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March 7, 1948 Field Commander of Palestine Liberation Army Enters Palestine from Syria

Training of the Arab Liberation Army“British Contingent Vacates Palestine, 1,500 Troops and Police, 300 Dependents Embark at Haifa as Bombing Rocks Port.”

Mr. Hecox was riding in a private car with The New York Times photographer, Carl Gossett of Asheville, North Carolina, and Kenneth Enfield, British Movietone News photographer.  Several bullets pierced the car; one sheered off a nut on the bumper and a third hit Mr. Hecox.

Fawzi el-Kawukji, top field commander of the Arab volunteer “Liberation Army” entered Palestine from Syria today, according to highly placed Arab sources.  The Arab Higher Committee declined, however, to confirm the news officially.

Although Fawzi el-Kawukji had been erroneously reported to have entered Palestine half a dozen times before and there were four distinct reports as to how he arrived, the probability is that he move his main headquarters from Damascus to some point in the mountainous “triangle of terror” between Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm.

The British-operated Middle East Radio station tonight broadcast a report that Fawzi el-Kawukji had crossed into Palestine over the Allenby bridge and had visited Jerusalem and Ramallah en route to Nablus.

Rumors that his arrival indicated an immediate Arab offensive and that he came at the head of 6,000 to 15,000 men, were discounted in responsible quarters. He is known to have 6,000 to 7,000 volunteers in Palestine, but the number of men being trained, or waiting in Syria, is not believed to exceed 3,000 at present.

The Arab commander is expected to be kept busy in the next few months organizing his forces and bringing such independent-minded subcommanders as Abdel Kader Husseini, in the Jerusalem area, and Hassan Salameh, in the Jaffa and Lydda areas, to submit to his active command in preparation for the major fighting that is believed bound to begin after the British departure.

The British Palestine Government announced today that 288 Jewish detainees charged with terrorism and at present held at Gelgel detention camp, in Kenya, would be returned to Palestine “so as to arrive not later than July.”

Almost all the detainees are members of the Stern group and Irgum Zvai Leumi, but several members of the Haganah are included.  Some have been held as long as six years.  They were moved two years ago from Latrun camp, in Palestine, to the Sudan, and from there to Kenya.

Source:  Schmidt, Dana Adams. The New York Times, March 7, 1948.

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