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Department of Public Information (DPI)
8 July 1948
Department of Public Information
Press and Publications Bureau
Lake Success, New York
Press Release PAL/210
8 July 1948
U.N. PERSONNEL WITHDRAWS FROM PALESTINE
(The following was received at UN Headquarters today from the UN Press Officer in Haifa)
With the announcement by UN Mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, of the conclusion of the truce and of the failure of his extension efforts, United Nations Headquarters in Haifa began an order withdrawal of equipment and personnel to points outside Palestine.
At the request of Count Bernadotte, the US Navy is sending one carrier, "Palau", and one tank cargo ship, "Marquette", to evacuate equipment and certain personnel from Haifa Harbor. Three destroyers, -- "Putnam", "Henley" and "Owen", - previously assigned to the Mediator for coastal patrol service, are remaining, subject to his orders, in Haifa Harbor.
The Mediator has asked the belligerent Governments to withhold any military action in Haifa and Beirut until the United Nations have fully withdrawn. With few exceptions, the United Nations Secretariat, including guards, are proceeding to Beirut today and tomorrow. They will go on as soon as possible to Rhodes or other destinations yet to be determined.
Military observers and personnel of all three countries will also be flown to Beirut by the US Army today and tomorrow. U.S. Naval personnel, including marine communications teams, are now boarding vessels. The Mediator's plane returns from Rhodes tomorrow, bearing Dr. Ralph Bunch, Chief of the Secretariat, who with Col. Thorde Bonde and Carey Seward will proceed to Beirut to supervise the removal of personnel.
Gen. Frank Stoner, UN Communications Officer, and Press Officer George Barnes are going to Rhodes via carrier with all the files and records of the entire truce supervision. A small party of United Nations guards and Frank Begley may remain in Jerusalem, pending further developments on the demilitarization of Mt. Scopus and the City.
Thord Bonde, the Mediator's Chief of Staff in Palestine, issued the following statement:
"The withdrawal of United Nations personnel from Palestine follows necessarily from the failure to obtain agreement from the belligerent governments to an extension of the truce. The personnel now leaving have successfully carried on supervisory operations of the greatest difficulty and the gravest importance. They have done so under most trying conditions. The observer organizations started without experience, since, as I know, there was no precedent.
"Yet, despite difficulties and inexperience, the fact remains that there has been no large scale fighting in Palestine during the truce period, and that inhabitants of isolated areas have received relief which could not have been brought to them without neutral organizations such as ours. It is also a fact that observers in the field have been able to make innumerable on-the-spot agreements which prevented local outbreaks from spreading.
"It seems apparent from our experience, nevertheless, that no organization, not backed by force, can maintain the truce successfully unless authorities of the belligerent governments cooperate wholeheartedly in the spirit and letter of the truce agreement.
"On behalf of the Mediator I want to thank the observer personnel as well as the UN Secretariat personnel for unfailing willingness, devotion to the job at hand, and their justice and impartiality. Most of them have worked under the greatest personal hazards and in circumstances which compelled them to make frequent judgements and decisions on their own responsibility. The countries which supplied observers--France, Belgium, Sweden and the United States--may well be proud of the great service they have rendered to the cause of peace.
"I wish to express a special word of thanks and commendation to the US Airforce and the US Navy for the services rendered throughout the truce and in connection with the withdrawal of the United Nations from Palestine.
"It is regrettable in the extreme that the mission is not completed without injury and death to members of the neutral observer group."
Equipment, jeeps, radio trucks and other vehicles, marshalled on the lot before United Nations Headquarters in Hotel Zion are now being moved to the quay for unloading on the "Marquette" and "Palau". The cooperation of the US Navy and Airforce has been invaluable. Without the superb equipment and personnel placed at our disposal, the United Nations would be in a most uncomfortable situation.
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