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Michael Elkins; Radio Reporter Broke News on Israel's 6-Day War

March 14, 2001|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Broadcaster Michael Elkins, best known for his radio scoops during Israel's lightning victory in the 1967 Middle East War, has died. He was 84.

Elkins died at Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem after suffering a heart attack at his home Saturday.

The American-born Elkins was working for CBS Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. when the war broke out on June 6, 1967. Elkins later told of positioning himself in the Israeli parliament building, where he heard legislators and military leaders whispering about Israeli planes wiping out the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces in bombing runs on the first day of the war.

Understanding that Israeli air control amounted to an Israeli victory, he called the two radio networks with the news. CBS Radio refused to broadcast it, he said, because no other agency was reporting Israel's success on the first day of the war.

The BBC aired his report that evening, after it cleared Israeli military censorship. The war lasted just six days and ended in an Israeli victory, including capture of the Sinai Desert and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Elkins said he resigned from CBS shortly afterward to protest the network's refusal to broadcast his report. He remained the BBC's correspondent in Israel until his retirement in 1982.

Born in New York in 1917, Elkins was active in anti-Nazi groups before World War II and was involved in illegal arms shipments to Jewish fighters before Israel was founded in 1948.

Elkins also wrote a book about the aftermath of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the German Nazis and their allies. Titled "Forged in Fury," it told of a group of Jewish survivors who returned to Europe from Israel after the war to kill Nazis and avenge the deaths of the Jews.

He is survived by his longtime companion, Ruth Tzur; a son, Jonathan, who lives in California; and a granddaughter.

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