Arabs and Jews Fighting in 1948Click here to view the original article.

JERUSALEM, Jan. 17 (AP)-Palestine’s fiercest communal battle swept through the Judean hills between Hebron and Bethlehem where 45 persons were slain in a Jewish raid and an Arab ambush, police said tonight. Scattered fighting elsewhere in the Holy Land brought to 53 the known death toll during the past 24 hours. In the 49 days since the United Nations voted for partition a total of 881 persons have been killed in Palestine, an unofficial tabulation showed.

Thirty-five of the dead in the Judean fighting were young Jewish men and women. They had stumbled into an Arab trap along a camel track near Jaba, four miles off the Bethlehem-Hebron road. Machine-gun fire from several directions mowed them down. Four Arabs were killed in the fight.

Three miles south of the scene of the ambush Jewish fighters raided the village of Surif, killing six Arabs.


This sequence of events was pieced together from the versions of both sides and reports trickling in to the police and British army-

At dawn yesterday 100 Jews lashed out at the Arabs. The Jews either were heading south to reinforce the co-operative community of Kefar Etzion, which has been besieged by the Arabs, or were striking out from Kefar Etzion in a reprisal raid against Surif. Jews fired 500 rounds of ammunition as they attacked Surif. In addition to the six Arabs killed there, six or eight others were wounded. The Jews finally withdrew with no known dead after fighting had raged in the village for most of the morning.

Around noon an Arab shepherd boy sighted 35 Jews wandering through a rocky wad below his flocks. He ran with a warning that brought the Arabs into position for the ambush along the camel track.

Haganah, the Jewish militia, said the group was on its way to reinforce Kefar Etzion but apparently had lost its way in the hills while seeking to keep off roads through Arab territory.


Meanwhile British troops equipped with machineguns and artillery foiled a new attempt by Syrian Arabs to cross the border and attack two Jewish settlements in Northern Palestine, military sources said.

It was announced that the last of the Trans-Jordan frontier force, made up of Arabs officered by Britons, had been withdrawn to Trans-Jordan.

(United Press reported that “authoritative sources” said the “existing chaos” in the Holy Land-the vicious cycle of “retribution”-probably would jeopardize the timetable for withdrawal of British troops. These sources said the paralysis of shipping by violence at Haifa already had set back the timetable two weeks.

(The last British troops were originally scheduled to leave Palestine on August 1. But these authoritative sources said that they might not now be able to leave until a month or two after that date.)