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Following WWII, an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was sent to Palestine to study conditions there and report to the UNO regarding the nature of a desirable settlement. The committee appended an extensive recent history of Palestine, and a summary of the security situation in 1946. Both of these are given below and constitute invaluable historical source documents, regarding the actual course of history and the perceptions of the mandate on the part of the committee.
The main report is given here: Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
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Before the First World War the area today identified as Palestine had no separate existence as a single administrative unit within the Turkish Empire. Its population consisted of some 689,000 persons, of whom about 85,000 were Jews. The remainder were an Arabic speaking people, racially mixed but linguistically and culturally akin to the peoples of Syria, Mesopotamia, the Arabian peninsula and Egypt. The great majority of the Palestinian Arabs were Moslems, somewhat less than ten per cent being Christian. The economy of the land was overwhelmingly agricultural and the standard of living was low.
During the course of the First World War, which brought a British military occupation of Palestine, various commitments relating directly or indirectly to that area were made by the British and the other Allied and Associated Governments. The Hussein-McMahon letters of 1915-1916 promised British assistance to the Arab peoples in freeing themselves from the Turks and in establishing their independence. The limitations and restrictions placed upon this promise have always been held by the British Government to have excluded the area of Palestine. The Arab leaders, however, have insisted that Arab independence was promised there as elsewhere.
In 1917 the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration, stating that it viewed with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and would endeavor to facilitate the achievement of this object, although nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The French and Italian Governments endorsed the Declaration in 1918, and a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1922 gave formal United States sanction to the ideal of the Jewish national home. This "National Home" was new to international law and subject to varied interpretations. It appears certain that no one in 1917 contemplated the immediate creation of a Jewish State to rule over the large Arab majority in Palestine. But many responsible persons in the British and United States Governments and among the Jewish people believed that a considerable Jewish majority might develop in Palestine in the course of time, and that a Jewish State might thus be the ultimate outcome of the Balfour Declaration.
These wartime commitments complicated the future of Palestine. Arab leaders could insist that they possessed a promise of an independent Arab Palestine as an additional support to their claims on the land based upon prescription and national self-determination. The Jews could claim an international pledge to assist in the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
As a part of the peace settlement at the end of the First World War, Palestine was placed under a League of Nations Mandate with Great Britain as the administering Power. The mandatory instrument approved by the Council of the League of Nations in July, 1922, and becoming effective in September, 1923, recited the Balfour Declaration and gave recognition to the historical connection of the Jews with Palestine and to their right to reconstitute their National Home in that country.
Legislative and administrative authority was given to the Mandatory which was enjoined to place the country under such political, administrative, and economic conditions as would secure the establishment of a Jewish National Home and the development of self-governing institutions, and was also enjoined to safeguard the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race or religion. A Jewish agency was to be recognized as a public body to advise and cooperate with the Palestine Administration in matters affecting the National Home.
The Mandate, moreover, required Great Britain to facilitate Jewish immigration and to encourage close settlement on the land. Though extensive safeguards were provided for the non-Jewish peoples, the Mandate was framed primarily in the Jewish interest.
Even before the Palestine Mandate went into effect it had become evident that the Arab leaders in Palestine were not prepared readily to acquiesce in the creation of a Jewish National Home. Arab independence was their demand. Riots occurred in 1920 and 1921, and Arab unrest spread. An effort to define the term "National Home" in the hope of calming Arab fears and conciliating Arab opinion appeared to the British Government to be essential.
The Churchill White Paper therefore, disclaimed the intention of creating a Jewish State in Palestine, defined the National Home in terms of a culturally autonomous Jewish community, and looked forward to the ultimate creation of a bi-national but unitary Palestinian State in which Jews and Arabs might cooperate. It agreed that Jewish immigration must continue, but established the concept of the economic absorptive capacity of the country as a limiting factor. This statement of policy was accepted. though without enthusiasm, by the Jews but was rejected by the Arabs. Arab refusal to cooperate resulted in the abandonment of a plan to introduce an elective element into the central government. The first of the major attempts to settle the Palestine problem thus failed. Arab-Jewish cooperation was not obtained.
The years between 1923 and 1926 were ones of relative peace in Palestine. The Government was organized largely on the Crown Colony model, with the responsible posts in the hands of British officials. Under the terms of the Religious Communities Ordinance, the Jewish community established an organization with many of the attributes of a semi-autonomous government, but the Arabs, intent on independence, rejected such a status for themselves.
The population, which in 1922 stood at 757,000 persons, of whom slightly more than 11 per cent were Jews, increased by 1929 to 960,000, of whom more than 16 per cent were Jews. This increase in the Jewish percentage appeared highly alarming to the Arab leaders.
In 1929 Arab dissatisfaction with the Mandate and the modified Jewish National Home of the White Paper showed itself in serious riots. A new statement of policy appeared necessary to the Shaw Commission which investigated the disturbances, and in October, 1930, the Passfield White Paper was issued. It reiterated the cultural nature of the National Home as defined in the Churchill Paper of 1922, and proposed further restrictions upon immigration and more stringent limitations upon the right of land purchase. It specifically espoused the theory of a bi-partite and equal obligation under the Mandate to the Jews and the Arabs and denied that the clauses designed to safeguard the rights of the non-Jewish communities were merely secondary conditions qualifying the provisions which called for the establishment of the National Home. It proposed the creation of a legislative council, modeled on the lines of that suggested in 1922. This statement was particularly unpalatable to the Jews, and the MacDonald letter of 1931, issued as an official interpretation of the policy, virtually explained away the intent to limit immigration and land sales. It also announced that the mandatory clauses protecting Arab rights were not to be construed as freezing existing conditions. Though the Jews were somewhat placated, the Arabs were correspondingly indignant, and the second major attempt to settle the Palestine issue failed.
In the years from 1931 to 1936 the material progress of Palestine in agriculture and industry tended to reduce political unrest and tension. New proposals for a partially elected legislative council were presented by the Administration but were again rejected, this time by the Jews. Meanwhile, the population had grown to 1,366,000 persons, of whom almost 28 per cent were Jews.
Arab displeasure showed itself again in 1936 in a general strike in support of demands for self-government, the prohibition of land transfers to Jews, and the immediate cessation of Jewish immigration. The strike was marked by violence which again brought the Palestine problem sharply to the attention of the British Government. The Royal Commission which was established to investigate the situation denied the theory of equal obligations to Arabs and Jews, arguing that the Mandate had been predicated upon the supposition that the Palestine Arabs would accept the Jewish National Home. Since they had not done so, the Commission reached the conclusion that the Mandate had become unworkable and must be abrogated. It suggested Partition. A Jewish State would include Galilee, the Plain of Esdraelon and the coastal plain; an Arab State, most of the rest of Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Permanent mandates were proposed for the Jerusalem area and certain Christian Holy Places.
The Peel Report was published on 7th July, 1937. At the same time, the British Government released a statement of policy, agreeing with its conclusions and proposing to seek from the League of Nations authority to proceed with a plan of partition. The reception accorded the Peel proposals was, however, generally unfavorable. The Jewish Agency at once attacked partition as a breach of the Balfour Declaration which had promised a National Home in the whole of Palestine.
Later, however, both the Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency adopted resolutions which authorized negotiations with the British Government to ascertain the precise terms to be advanced for the creation of a Jewish State, though they rejected the details of the Peel plan. The Arab leaders, both in the Husseini-controlled Arab Higher Committee and in the Nashashibi National Defense Party denounced partition and reiterated their demands for independence.
In Great Britain the House of Commons adopted a non-committal resolution, whereby the Cabinet was authorized to seek League of Nations approval of partition as a preliminary to the drafting of a definite plan for submission to Parliament. In its turn the Permanent Mandates Commission conceded that it would be desirable to examine a plan of partition but opposed the immediate grant of independence to the new States which, it held, would need a period of tutelage under mandate. Finally, the League of Nations Council, acting on 16th September, 1937, requested Great Britain to carry out a study of the status of Palestine, concentrating on a solution involving partition. In Palestine the brief period of peace which followed the publication of the Peel Report was succeeded by renewed Arab disturbances, culminating in the assassination of the Acting District Commissioner for Galilee. This new campaign of violence resulted in a more vigorous government policy.
On 30th September, 1937, regulations were issued allowing the Government to detain political deportees in any part of the British Empire, and authorizing the High Commissioner to outlaw associations whose objectives he regarded as contrary to public policy. Haj Amin el-Husseini was removed from the leadership of the Supreme Moslem Council and the General Waqf Committee, the local National Committees and the Arab Higher Committee were disbanded; five Arab leaders were deported to the Seychelles; and in fear of arrest Jamal el-Husseini fled to Syria and Haj Amin el-Husseini to Lebanon. In November, 1937, military courts were established for the trial of offenses connected with the carrying and discharge of firearms, sabotage and intimidation. Despite this, however, the Arab campaign of murder and sabotage continued and Arab gangs in the hills took on the appearance of organized guerrilla fighters.
In July, 1938, when the Palestine Government seemed to have largely lost control of the situation, the garrison was strengthened from Egypt, and in September it was further reinforced from England. The police were placed under the operational control of the army commander, and military officials superseded the civil authorities in the enforcement of order. In October the Old City of Jerusalem, which had become a rebel stronghold, was reoccupied by the troops. By the end of the year a semblance of order had been restored in the towns, but terrorism continued in rural areas until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Preparations for the appointment of the technical commission to examine the details of a partition scheme moved slowly. On 4th January, 1938, the terms of reference were published. They required the commission to recommend for the proposed Arab and Jewish areas boundaries that would afford a prospect of the eventual establishment of independent states and necessitate the inclusion of the smallest number of Arabs in the Jewish area and of Jews in the Arab area. The British Government stated that, if a scheme of partition which it regarded as equitable and practicable emerged from the work of the commission, it would be referred to the Council of the League of Nations for consideration.
The Woodhead Commission arrived in Palestine late in April and remained until early August. In November its report was published and revealed that no plan of partition could be evolved within the terms of reference which would, in the view of the members of the Commission, offer much hope of success. The Peel plan was rejected and two possible alternatives were considered. Plan B would have reduced the size of the Jewish State by the addition of Galilee to the permanently mandated area and of the southern part of the region south of Jaffa to the Arab State. Plan C would have limited the Jewish State to the coastal region between Zikhron Yaaqov and Rehovoth while northern Palestine, including the Plains of Esdraelon and Jezreel, and all the semi-arid region of southern Palestine would have been placed under separate mandate. Two members of the Commission favored Plan C, one favored Plan B. and one declared that no practicable scheme of partition could be devised.
The British Government accompanied the publication of the Woodhead Report by a statement of policy rejecting partition as impracticable in the light of the Commission's investigations, but suggesting that Arab-Jewish agreement might still be possible. An invitation was therefore extended to representatives of the Palestine Arabs, the neighboring Arab states and the Jewish Agency to confer with the British Government in London regarding future policy in Palestine.
It was stated, however, that if agreement could not be reached the Government would announce a policy of its own. The Arab delegates refused to meet with the representatives of the Jews. Conferences between the Government and the Jews on the one hand and the Government and the Arabs on the other were, however, conducted between 7th February and 17th March. The Government submitted to both sides proposals substantially the same as those contained in the White Paper issued after the failure of the conference, but did not succeed in getting agreement from either.
On 17th May, 1939, the British Government published a new statement of policy. The 1939 White Paper announced that the obligation to foster the creation of the National Home had been fulfilled, and that Palestine with its existing population was to be prepared for selfgovernment. The Government, stated the White Paper, regarded it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs that the Arab population should be made subjects of a Jewish State against their will, and had as their objective to foster the creation of an independent state in which Jews and Arabs could share authority.
In development of these ideas, the White Paper announced a plan for constitutional progress which, it was hoped would permit the creation of such a state within ten years. During the first five years, Palestinians would replace British officials at the head of all Departments of Government; if public opinion was favorable, a legislative body would be created. At the end of this period an elected assembly would be convened to make recommendations concerning the constitution of the new state. If at the end of ten years, circumstances required a postponement of independence, the-British Government would consult with the people of Palestine, the Council of the League of Nations and the neighboring Arab states. The White Paper also announced that Jewish immigration could no longer be fostered in the face of continued Arab opposition, but declared that, in view of the fact that the economic life of Palestine was adjusted to the reception of large numbers of immigrants, and out of consideration for the plight of Jewish refugees from areas of persecution, the Government planned to admit to Palestine 75,000 persons during the succeeding five years, subject to the criterion of economic absorptive capacity. Finally, the Paper authorized the Government to place restrictions upon the purchase of land by Jews.
The Jews unanimously condemned the 1939 White Paper as a violation of the Mandate, which would place the Jews in a permanent minority status in a hostile Arab state. Jewish violence broke out in Palestine, and Jewish organizations throughout the world issued the most vigorous protests. The Arab leaders, too, rejected the White Paper at first on the ground that it denied them immediate independence. Soon, however, the Nashashibi faction agreed to cooperate with the Government in giving effect to its terms, and as time passed the majority of Arabs came to accept it as fulfilling, if properly implemented, their main demands.
Despite the hostile reception given the White Paper, and in face of vigorous attacks upon it in Parliament, the British Government succeeded in securing Parliamentary approval of their policy and presented it for consideration by the Permanent Mandates Commission. The Commission unanimously held that the White Paper was in conflict with the interpretation which the Mandatory Government, with the concurrence of the organs of the League, had put upon the mandate in the past. Four of the members felt that the policy was not in harmony with the terms of the Mandate, while the other three held that existing circumstances would justify the policy provided the Council of the League of Nations did not oppose it.
The Government thereupon prepared to lay its plans before the council in September, 1939, but the outbreak of the Second World War resulted in the suspension of League of Nations activities, and no final decision on Palestine policy was reached.
In Palestine, wartime conditions and Jewish and Arab rejection of its terms made it impossible fully to implement the White Paper. The constitutional changes suggested were never put into effect; instead, the Palestine Government continued to operate upon the Crown Colony pattern. Palestinians were not promoted to head Departments of the Administration, in which the responsible officials dike the members of the Executive and Advisory Councils remained wholly British, a-s did those on the district level.
Even in the local affairs, the advance of self-government has been extremely slow. There are provided for in Palestine today 24 elected municipal councils, 38 elected local councils and 24 more or less popularly chosen village councils, but the powers entrusted to these bodies are in most cases slight, and the most recent municipal elections tool: place in 1934. Demands for a greater voice in government come from both the Arab and the Jewish communities.
Unlike the constitutional provisions, the land transfer policy of the White Paper was speedily implemented. Land Transfers Regulations, published on 28th February, 1940, divided Palestine into three zones.
In Zone A, consisting of about 63 percent of the country including the stony hills, land transfers save to a Palestinian Arab were in general forbidden. In Zone B. consisting of about 32 percent of the country, transfers from a Palestinian Arab save to another Palestinian Arab were severely restricted at the discretion of the High Commissioner. In the remainder of Palestine, consisting of about five percent of the country-which, however, includes the most fertile areas- land sales remained unrestricted.
This legislation has been bitterly denounced by the Jews on the ground that it violates the Mandate both by ignoring the provisions for fostering close settlement on the land, and by establishing a form of "racial" discrimination. The Arabs have, on political grounds, generally favored the regulations, and indeed have demanded a more rigid enforcement despite the fact that they have the economic effect of preventing the flow of Jewish capital into Arab lands for use in agricultural or industrial development.
The immigration provisions of the White Paper were also in general put into effect. Powers were given the High Commissioner to set a limit upon the total immigration into Palestine and quotas were established on fl basis which it was expected would permit the entry by 1944 of the 75,000 persons eligible as immigrants under the White Paper. Further immigration beyond 1944 was to be dependent upon Arab agreement.
Many Jews, fleeing from anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe, and finding the gates of Palestine closed, sought entry into the Holy Land by surreptitious means. Illegal immigration grew to unprecedented proportions. To meet this threat the Palestine Government continued its standing procedure of reducing the immigration quotas by the number of illegal entrants either apprehended or estimated to have entered the country. This, however, appeared a scarcely adequate method of coping with the problem, and in 1940 drastic efforts were made to halt further unlawful entry. The policy of reducing the immigration quotas was augmented by a threat to deport to some British colony and to intern there for the duration of the war any persons entering Palestine without proper qualifications. The attempt to implement this policy resulted in the Patrza disaster. In November, 1940, a vessel loaded with deportees was scuttled in Haifa Harbor by Jewish sympathizers, with loss of life to 252 persons. Some 1,350 illegal immigrants were, nevertheless, sent to Mauritius in December, 1940.
As the war engulfed Europe, the opportunities for movements of people, whether legal immigrants or not, became less, and in the autumn of 1943 it was found that only some 44,000 of the 75,000 persons provided for in the White Paper had reached Palestine. The British Government, therefore, announced on 10th November that the time limit of theWhite Paper would not be enforced but that, subject to economic absorptive capacity, an additional 31,000 Jews would be permitted to enter Palestine. Restricted legal immigration, therefore, continued on this basis until the end of 1945. Since then immigration has been maintained at the rate of 1,500 persons a month, pending the report of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry.
With the end of the war in Europe a revival of illegal immigration occurred as the displaced Jews of Europe sought refuge in the National Home. Even as the Committee was preparing to leave the Middle East, two boatloads of illegal immigrants were apprehended off the coast of Palestine. Attempts of the authorities to apprehend illegal immigrants have met the most determined resistance both from individual Jews and from secret Jewish organizations.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish community in Palestine offered their support to the war effort, and agreed to lay aside their differences with the Mandatory. Even the Zionist extremists, the Revisionists, gave up for a time the campaign of violence with which they had greeted the 1939 White Paper. The Jewish Agency offered its services in the recruitment of men for recognized Jewish units to serve in Palestine, and, when this offer was rejected, the Agency proceeded to organize the recruiting of Jews in response to the calls of the Army, Air Force and Navy, while at the same time maintaining its campaign to secure approval for the creation of a specifically Jewish military force, a campaign which was finally crowned with success in September, 1944, when a Jewish Brigade Group was established. According to official figures, Jewish recruitment in Palestine for all types of military service, both combatant and noncombatant, between 1939 and 1940 reached a total of 27,028.
The Arab community in Palestine, though showing few signs of actual disaffection and offering slight response to Axis propaganda, showed itself largely indifferent to the outcome of the war. Out of a population twice as large as the Jewish, only 12,445 persons were recruited for military service, a figure less than half the Jewish total. The flight of the Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, to Italy and Germany, and his active support of the Axis, did not lose for him his following, and he is probably the most popular Arab leader in Palestine today.
As the war proceeded, and the partial implementation of the White Paper policy progressed, Jewish resistance became more active. The diametric opposition between the objectives of the Zionists as expressed in the Biltmore Program and the policy of the Mandatory Administration under the White Paper, led to constantly increasing friction between the Jewish organizations in Palestine and the Government, and encouraged on the part of Jewish youth and extremists an ever more frequent resort to violence as a means both of protest and of sabotage.
Military preparedness for a possible recourse to arms in defense of the Jewish National Home became the concern of an increasing number of persons within the Jewish community.
Haganah, a development from the earlier Jewish defense organizations against Arab terrorism, has grown into a military organization of over 60,000 persons, fairly well-armed and disciplined, and controlling its own secret radio transmitter. Though it has in general exercised a policy of restraint and refrained from acts of terrorism, it was implicated in the Jewish violence at the end of 1945 directed against the Government's efforts to prevent illegal immigration. The Irgun Zvai Leumi, the secret military organization of the Revisionists, is a smaller, less well-armed, but more radical body which, since 1943, has engaged in an intermittent series of robberies and extortions to produce funds and of bombing attacks upon Government buildings, transport and police installations. The so-called Stern Group, a dissident faction, once part of the Irgun, is the smallest but the most extreme of the Jewish secret bodies. Refusing cooperation of any sort with the Mandatory' its members engaged throughout the war in a series of outrages culminating in the attempted assassination of the High Commissioner in August, 1944, and in the murder of Lord Moyne in Cairo on 6th November of that year.
In 1945 the Arabs also began to consider the political future. Demands were made for the release of Jamal el-Husseini, who had been interned in Southern Rhodesia following his capture in 1941 while seeking to escape southwards from Teheran in the aftermath of the Rashid All revolt in Iraq. Abortive attempts were made to organize a center for united Arab political expression in Palestine. In the following year, the Arab leader selected a politically neutral representative, Musa Effendi el-Alami, to attend the conferences in Egypt which led to the formation of the Arab League.
Since the Arab League was composed of independent States, Palestine's position in relation to it was not easy to define. It was settled by means of an annex to the Arab League Covenant, declaring that "owing to the peculiar circumstances of Palestine and until that country enjoys effective independence, the Council of the League should undertake the selection of an Arab delegate from Palestine to participate in its work". In December, 1945, the states members of the League undertook to boycott the products of Jewish industry in Palestine. Another result of the formation of the League was the establishment of Arab Offices in Washington, London and Jerusalem to serve as centers for the dissemination of information concerning Arab interests and objectives.
Finally, in November, 1945, a new Arab Higher Committee, representing all the Arab parties of Palestine, was formed, in which after his release from Rhodesia and return to Palestine early in 1946, Jamal el-Husseini became the leader. A reorganization of this body under Jamal el-Husseini's guidance gave rise in late March, 1946, to charges of high-handed and dictatorial methods from some of the non-Hussein) factions. Despite internal friction, however, the Arab leaders in Palestine are united behind a program demanding the fullfillment of the White Paper policy and the speedy granting of independence to an Arab-dominated Palestine.
Arabs as well as Jews possess arms, and signs have not been entirely lacking of a revival of Arab secret activities, similar to those which preceded the disturbances of 1936-39.
In the face of actual violence and threats of much more serious violence, possibly approaching the status of civil war, the Palestine Government resorted to drastic emergency legislation which permitted it to modify or suspend normal civil liberties. There can be no gainsaying that Palestine today is governed without the consent of Jews or Arabs by an Administration depending almost solely upon force for the maintenance of a precarious authority.
In Palestine there is a police and prisons establishment of over 15,000 persons, exclusive of supernumerary police. These police are habitually armed and are conspicuous everywhere. Throughout the country there are over 60 substantially built police barracks, capable of being defended as forts in an emergency. There is a military force stationed in Palestine which is the equivalent of two and a half divisions, and in addition there are a number of Air Force units and also certain naval forces engaged in coastal patrol and other duties. In 1944-1945 over L.P. 4,600,000 was spent by the Palestine Government on law and order, as opposed to less than L.P. 5,600,000 on all other governmental services not directly attributable to Palestine's part in the waging of the Second World War.
The Government, in an effort to preserve order, has assumed extensive emergency powers under authority of the Palestine Defense Order-in-Council of 1937. Emergency regulations, going back under this and previous authorizations to 1936, have granted extraordinary powers to the Government and the military authorities and have severely restricted the liberty of the individual.
In 1936, when the Arab revolt was assuming serious proportions, the Government enacted regulations authorizing the seizure and use of buildings and road transport, the imposition of curfews, the censorship of the press, the deportation of undesirables, and unusual privileges of arrest and search. Detention camps were established for the effective supervision of political suspects. Drastic regulations were issued imposing collective fines as punishments upon areas where unidentified inhabitants had committed a crime.
In 1937, regulations were enacted allowing the Government to detain political deportees in any part of the British Empire and authorizing the High Commissioner to outlaw associations whose objectives he regarded as contrary to public policy. Military courts were established for the trial of offenses connected with sabotage and intimidation, and with the discharge of firearms at persons and the carrying of arms and explosives, both of which offenses were made punishable by death. In 1938 and 1939, 908 cases were tried by these military courts and 109 death sentences were confirmed.
Recently, in the face of Jewish threats to public security, the Government has again had extensive resort to emergency regulations, some of them already existent and some of them newly issued and revised in 1945 and 1946. Orders of detention may be issued against any citizen on the authority of an Area Commander, and these orders are not reviewable by any court of law. Late in December 1945, the number of Jews held in detention stood at 554.
The High Commissioner's power to deport detained persons was exercised in October 1944, to deport 251 Jews to Eritrea, and in December 1945, to send 55 additional Jews to the same destination. The regulations confer on the authorities wide powers of arrest and search without warrant. Searches may be made in the absence of the owner or occupier, provided the mukhtar of the area or two responsible citizens are present. Military courts possess considerable jurisdiction and can impose the death sentence. The principle of group responsibility has been extended, and the authorities are empowered to impose collective fines as punitive measures. The regulations provide also for forfeiture of property by any person who, in the considered opinion of the High Commissioner, has committed or abetted the commission of certain specified offenses.
During the early years of the Mandatory regime in Palestine threats to public order came largely from the Arabs, protesting against Jewish immigration and the withholding of independence. More recently, Jewish opposition to the policies expressed in the White Paper of 1939 has been responsible for unrest and violence.
As early as 1920, Palestine Arab opposition to Zionism and desire for self-government led to a threat to public security. Propaganda for union with an independent Syria led in April of that year to three days of rioting in Jerusalem, in which Arab mobs fell upon Jews with sticks, stones and knives. The Arab Police either adopted a passive attitude or joined in the riots. British troops were called out, the police were disarmed and order was finally reestablished. As a result of these disturbances, five Jews and four Arabs were killed and 211 Jews and 21 Arabs were wounded.
The opening of Palestine to Jewish immigration late in 1930 contributed to a new outbreak of violence. On May Day, 1921, Arab mobs attacked Jewish residents of Jaffa and stormed the Zionist Immigration Center, killing 13 persons. Again the military forces had to be summoned to replace the unreliable Arab police. The disorders, however, spread. On the 3d May Hebrew colonies at Kafr Saba and Ain Hal were looted. On the 5th May the village of Petah Tiqvah was attacked by several thousand armed Arabs in semi-military formation, and was saved from destruction only by the arrival of several squadrons of cavalry. On the 6th May Arabs besieged Haderah and attempted an attack on Rehovoth. In these disorders 47 Jews were killed and 146 wounded, mostly by Arabs, and 48 Arabs were killed and 73 wounded, mostly by police and military action.
The period from 1921 to 1928 was in general one of peace in Palestine. Jewish immigration was relatively slight and the Arab nationalist movement was ill-organized and divided within itself. In 1928, however, a quarrel developed between Jews and Arabs over the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, ground holy alike to Moslems and Jews, and inter-community tension increased as the months passed. Jewish immigration seemed likely to increase and the Zionist movement was being strengthened in Europe and America. Arab political activity revived. On the 15th August, 1929, a Jewish demonstration was held at the Wailing Wall, and on the following day the Arabs held a counter-demonstration. On the 17th August a young Jew was stabbed to death by an Arab into whose garden he had followed a lost football, and his funeral became the occasion for a serious anti-Arab demonstration.
On the 23d August Arabs armed with knives and clubs invaded the new city of Jerusalem and began a massacre of the Jews. On the following day more than 60 Jews were killed at Hebron, and in the succeeding days a number of Jewish colonies were attacked. The police had to open fire to prevent outrages in Nablus and Jaffa, and Arabs attacked the Jewish quarter in Safad, killing or wounding 45 persons. In all, 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded, and six Jewish colonies were destroyed. There were 116 reported Arab deaths, many of them as a result of police and military activities.
The period between 1929 and 1936 was marked by periodic violence. In August 1930, there was a minor Arab outbreak at Nablus. The years 1930 and 1931 saw a series of terrorist murders of Jews. Agrarian crime was endemic and the Arabs attempted to take into their own hands the prevention of illegal Jewish immigration. In October 1931, Arab demonstrations and riots directed against the Government, as well as against the Jews, took place in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Babes. In the course of these and related incidents, 24 civilians were killed and 204 wounded. In November 1935, an Arab armed gang was discovered and liquidated by police action.
The extended Arab disturbances of 1936-1939 in support of demands for the stoppage of Jewish immigration, the prohibition of land sales to the Jews, and the grant of independence were ushered in on the 15th April 1936, when a band of Arab highwaymen held up ten automobiles on the Tulkarm-Nablus road and robbed their passengers, killing two persons, who apparently were selected for death because they were Jews. On the following night two Arabs were murdered near Petah Tiqvah. On the 17th April the funeral of one of the Jews led to an anti-Arab demonstration in Tel-Aviv, and two days later Arabs in Jaffa fell upon the Jewish population and killed three persons before the police, reinforced by troops, managed to disperse them. On the 21st April a general strike was called by the Arab leaders to protest against Jewish immigration and land transfers. Soon the Arabs refused to pay taxes and violence increased. The Arab Higher Committee intimated to the Government that its members could not use their influence to check what they regarded as a spontaneous expression of national feeling.
During May and June the Arab strike was made effective through persuasion and intimidation. Jaffa port was closed. There was destruction of Jewish property and sniping at Jewish settlements. Sporadic attacks were made on the railway lines; roads were barricaded and telephone wires were cut. Armed bands, reinforced from Syria and Iraq, appeared in the hills. In the following months these bands increased in strength and were organized under the leadership of Fawzi cd-Din el-Kauwakji. Sabotage and murder of Jews increased. The oil pipeline running to Haifa was repeatedly punctured. Roads were systematically mined and railway tracks were frequently damaged. Towards the middle of August a few acts of retaliation, committed by Jews against the advice of their responsible leaders, began to occur. In the following month extensive operations against the Arab gangs by an augmented military force were commenced, but when on the 11th October the strike was called off by the Arab Higher Committee, the British armed forces were not used to their full capacity. The rebels in the hills were in many cases permitted to disperse. No effective effort to disarm the Arab population was made. Sniping, sabotage and assaults continued.
After a lull, while the Royal Commission was in Palestine and during which the military garrison was reduced, public security again deteriorated. During the first five months of 1937 lawlessness was generally confined to the north and to the Jerusalem area, but on the 13th June of that year an unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of the Inspector General of Police and from that time a campaign of murder, intimidation and sabotage conducted by Arab lawbreakers became widespread and occasionally provoked retaliatory acts by Jews. On the 26th September, 1937, the Acting District Commissioner of the Galilee District and his police escort were murdered at Nazareth by Arabs. Despite a stronger Government policy, which involved the disbanding of the Arab Higher Committee, the arrest of some of its leaders and the institution of military courts, Arab gangs in the hills increased in size, and assassinations, especially of police personnel, Government officials and moderate Arabs in prominent positions increased, as did sabotage of the oil pipeline and telegraph communications.
During 1938 the Arab campaign of murder and sabotage gathered strength. Gang warfare in the hills was developed on organized lines and was accompanied by increased terrorism in the towns. The roads became unsafe and the economic life of the country was seriously disrupted. Arms and money were smuggled into Palestine from the neighboring Arab countries, and gangsters and assassins were recruited and equipped in Beirut and Damascus for use in Palestine. Any Arabs who refused assistance to the rebels were subjected to intimidation, abduction and murder. Throughout the first five months of the year the Jews engaged in few acts of retaliation against Arab outrages, but in late June conditions changed somewhat, following the conviction by a military court and execution of a Revisionist youth who had fired on an Arab bus and was apprehended in possession of bombs and revolvers. Angry demonstrations against the Government took place in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv. On the 6th and 25th of July bomb explosions in the Arab fruit market at Haifa caused the death of 74 Arabs and the wounding of 129 others. There were other bomb outrages in Jerusalem and Jaffa, committed by Jewish extremists.
By July, 1938, the Arab gangs had become thoroughly organized. Rebel courts were set up, rebel stamps were issued, and the Old City of Jerusalem became a rallying point of bandits from which acts of violence, murder and intimidation were organized and perpetrated freely and with impunity. On the 24th August the Assistant District Commisoner at Jenin was murdered. In September, when the rebel power reached its climax, there was a large increase in abductions and a studied concentration on the destruction of Government buildings and property and on the seizure of armories in outlying police posts. On the 9th September, Beersheba was raided by a large gang, and later in the month police and Government buildings there were set on fire and destroyed. The Palestine garrison was reinforced in July and again in late September, and by the end of the year large-scale military operations had reduced the gangs to comparative impotence in the field. But terrorism and sabotage continued almost unabated.
During the first eight months of 1939 the Arab rebellion continued, but with gradually diminishing vigor. The large gangs broke up and dissension grew among the leaders. In March Abdul Rahim el-Haj Mohammed was killed in action, and the other principal leaders soon left Palestine. There remained, however, smaller groups- of outlaws who proceeded to rob and destroy life and property in the hill villages, while assassins remained active in the urban areas. Though inter-Arab terrorism and brigandage continued on-a considerable scale until the end of the year, the outbreak of the Second World War was marked by a decrease in crimes of a political nature.
During the Arab revolt, from the middle of 1936 to the end of 1939, there were 1,791 verified deaths and 3,288 cases of injury as a result of the disorders. In addition, it is conservatively estimated that some 2,000 Arab rebels were killed by police and military action.
There has not since 1939 been a recrudescence of Arab disorders. The military authorities stated to the Committee that through recent years the Arabs have been quiescent. Armed to some extent though not organized, they constitute, however, a potential threat to internal security. Recent political and other developments emphasize this danger. In November, 1945, a new Arab Higher Committee was formed, announcing that its purpose was "to assure responsibility for political and national affairs in the name of the Arab population of Palestine." In a wider field the Arab League came into being in March 1945. The Palestine Arabs now rely upon the League to represent their interest politically, and it may be assumed that, in the event of conflict, they would look to the neighboring Arab States for armed assistance. On the 24th March 1945, a large party of Jews hiking in the area west of the Dead Sea was attacked by armed Arabs, one Jew being killed and three wounded. During August and September 1945, there was a revival of Arab clubs and societies such as had played a prominent part in 1936-1938 in the furtherance of the Arab rebellion.
Since 1939, however, the immediate threats to public security have come from the Jews protesting against the policy which the Mandatory laid down in the White Paper of that year. In February, 1939, when rumors were current that the British Government intended to grant independence to an Arab-dominated Palestine, there were bomb outrages throughout the country in which 38 Arabs were killed and 44 wounded. The long-present problem of illegal Jewish immigration was also intensified. On the 17th May, simultaneously with the issue of the White Paper, transmission lines were cut, the headquarters of the Department of Migration was set on fire, and Government offices at Tel-Aviv were sacked. On the next day in Jerusalem shops were looted, the police were stoned and a British constable was killed. In the following week a campaign of attacks by Jews on Arabs and the Government was begun, and with a short lull during the second half of July this continued until the outbreak of the war. Time bombs, isolated murders, and sabotage of telephone services, the Palestine broadcasting station and police launches were the main features of this campaign. With the outbreak of the war, however, the Jews unanimously agreed to put aside their differences with the British policy. Jewish terrorist action ceased completely for a time and an illegal broadcasting station which had been operating for some months was closed down.
The publication of the Land Transfers Regulations late in February, 1940, evoked a general Jewish strike followed by a week of processions and disorderly demonstrations. In December, 1940, the Government immigration offices in Haifa were sabotaged by bombs in protest over the Patrza disaster and against the deportation to Mauritius of illegal immigrants. In July, 1942, the Stern group, an extremist band of Jews which had been engaged in terrorist activity since 1940, came into prominence with a series of robberies and murders in the Tel-Aviv area.
Following the Allied successes in North Africa in 1942, political considerations began to overshadow the war issue. In November of that year the Biltmore Programme was enunciated by the Zionists, and opposition to the immigration, land transfers, and constitutional policies of the Mandatory Power became more vocal. In a speech at Tel Hal on the 20th March, 1943, Mr. Ben Gurion, chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, stated that the end of the war would not necessarily mean the end of fighting for the Jews, but might, on the contrary, be only the beginning of their fight.
During Larch, 1943, there was a notable increase in the number and magnitude of thefts of arms and explosives from military establishments, and shortly afterwards there was revealed the existence of a large-scale stealing racket with ramifications throughout the Middle East. Jewish feeling against action by the Government and the military authorities to stop this traffic was aroused by the trial in a military court of two Jews who had taken part in the traffic. The "arms trial," as it came to be called, was preceded by the trial of two British military deserters who were sentenced each to fifteen years imprisonment for complicity in the thefts.
The two accused Jews were convicted at the end of September and sentenced to ten and seven years imprisonment respectively. In passing sentence the President of the court stated that the trial had shown "that there is in existence in Palestine a dangerous and widespread conspiracy for obtaining arms and ammunition from His Majesty's Forces" and that the organization behind the activities of the two accused "seems to have had considerable funds at its disposal and to possess wide knowledge of military matters, including military organization." The trial caused considerable bitterness on the part of the Jewish community against the Government which, they thought, should recognize that the Jews had a moral right to own. Feeling was aggravated by the facts that the trial was held in public and that Jewish official bodies were mentioned in the course-of the proceedings. Allegations were made in the Jewish press that the trial was an anti-Semitic "frame-up" aimed at discrediting the Jewish authorities and the Jewish war-effort.
The year 1944 saw an increase of terrorism by the Jewish extremists of the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern group. On the 3d February, 1944, two Jews were surprised tampering with the wall of St. George's Cathedral. From articles left behind, it appeared that they had been engaged in the installation of an infernal machine at the gate of the Cathedral through which the High Commissioner usually passed on his way to Sunday service. On the 12th February there were explosions in the offices of the Department of Migration in Jerusalem, Tell-Aviv and Haifa, and considerable damage was done to the buildings. On the 14th February a British police officer and a British constable were shot dead in the streets of Haifa. On the 24th February bomb explosions occurred in police headquarters in Haifa causing police casualties, and on the 26th February the income tax offices at Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel-Aviv were seriously damaged by bombs. During March there were isolated murders of policemen, and on the 23d eight British policemen were murdered by shooting and bombs, and serious damage was done to police buildings in the four major towns. Following these last attacks curfews were imposed and the death penalty was reintroduced for the carrying of arms and other crimes. On the 17th May, the Ramallah broadcasting station was attacked and an abortive attempt was made to broadcast therefrom. On the 14th July, the District police headquarters and District land registry offices at Jerusalem were attacked and severely damaged by explosives and fire; police casualties were inflicted, and the land registry records were destroyed. On the 8th August, an attempt was made by Jewish terrorists to assassinate the High Commissioner while he and Lady McMichael were proceeding by car to a municipal farewell function at Jaffa. A fine of L.P. 500 was subsequently placed on the Jewish settlement of Givat Shaul for failing to assist the police who investigated the crime. On the 22d August, three police buildings in Jaffa and Tel-Aviv were attacked with loss of police lives.
On the 27th September, four police stations were attacked with some casualties to the Palestine police personnel, and on the 29th September, a senior police officer was assassinated on the way to his office. On the 5th October, the Tel-Aviv offices and stores of the Department of Light Industries were raided, and textiles valued at L.P. 100,000 were removed. On the 6th November, this wave of terrorism culminated in the murder in Cairo by two members of the Stern group of Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East.
On the 10th October, before the assassination of Lord Moyne, the Officer Administering the Government of Palestine and the Commander in Chief, Middle East, had issued a joint official communique in which it was clearly stated that the terrorists and "their active and passive sympathizers are directly impeding the war effort of Great Britain" and "assisting the enemy." The communique called upon "the Jewish community as a whole to do their utmost to assist the forces of law and order in eradicating this evil thing within their midst" and added that "verbal condemnation of outrages on the platform and in the press may have its effect but is not in itself enough; what is required is actual collaboration with the forces of law and order, especially the giving of information leading to the apprehension of the assassins and their accomplices." The communique then demanded "of the Jewish community in Palestine, their leaders and representative bodies to recognize and discharge their responsibilities and not to allow the good name of the Yishuv to be prejudiced by acts which can only bring shame and dishonor on the Jewish people as a whole." After the assassination the Jewish Agency which had heartily deplored the outrages of the extremists, made arrangements to provide cooperation with the Government in a campaign against terrorism, and the measure of assistance thus afforded was forthcoming until comparatively recently.
During the early part of 1945 there was a lull in Jewish terrorist activity, but in May, following threats by the Irgun Zvai Leumi that V-Day for the world would be D-Day for them, there occurred a renewed outbreak. On the 13th May, telegraph poles were damaged by explosives and an attempt was made to attack the Police Mobile Force Camp at Sarona by locally made mortars. There was a recurrence of this attack by mortar fire on the 15th May. On the 22d May, the oil pipeline Eras punctured in two places and on the 25th a police patrol was fired on. On the 12th June, mortars aimed at the King's Birthday parade in Jerusalem were discovered, and on the following day a similar battery of mortars was found aiming at the saluting box from which Lord Gort, then High Commissioner, would take the salute at the parade. On the 17th June, substantial quantities of gelignite were stolen by armed Jews from quarries, and on the 13th July, a lorry load of explosives eras ambushed and the British constable escort was killed. On the same day a bridge on the Haifa-Kantara railway line was blown up. On the 7th August, L.P. 3,500 were stolen from a Tel-Aviv bank in an armed holdup. On the 13th a large body of armed Jews stole 450 pounds of gelignite and other explosives from the store at Petah Tiqvah of Solel Boneh Ltd., a Jewish cooperative. On the 16th August, the personnel of a training unit of the Irgun Zvai Leumi was arrested near Banvamina in possession of arms and explosives. On the 20th a Jewish settler who had been of assistance to the police was murdered. On the 2d September, armed Jews dressed as British police attempted to rob the safe of a Tel-Aviv bank, and shortly afterwards L.P. 5,000 worth of textiles were stolen in Tel-Aviv. On the 28th September, a British constable was fatally wounded in Tel-Aviv while escorting money for the payment of British officials' salaries. On the 11th October, 218 rifles, 15 machine guns and a store of ammunition were stolen from the training depot for Palestinian soldiers at Rehovoth. On the 16th October, a military truck containing L.P. 14,000 was ambushed by armed men who were beaten off by the Jewish military escort. On the 31st October, sabotage occurred in railway communications. On the 15th and 16th November there were demonstrations of protest in Tel-Aviv against the policy of the British Government as stated by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he announced in the House of Commons the decision- to set up the Anglo-American Committee. These demonstrations culminated in looting and mob violence during which, in addition to loss of life, Government offices were severely damaged and the District Office rendered unusable. Curfews were imposed and the mobs dispersed by troops and police. On the 24th November, two coastguard stations were extensively damaged. On the 27th December, police headquarters in Jerusalem, police stations in Jaffa and Tel-Aviv and a military depot in Tel-Aviv were attacked by large gangs of armed men. Severe damage was caused to the police buildings by explosives and two British constables, one Arab telephone operator, one British soldier and four Basuto soldiers were killed and others wounded by fire from automatic weapons or explosives.
On the 12th January, 1946, a train was derailed near Haderah and attacked by some 70 armed Jews, and L.P. 36,000 in cash intended for payment of the railway staff was stolen. On the 19th January, attacks were made on the Central Prison and on an electric substation in Jerusalem, the latter resulting in casualties. On the 20th January, an attack, resulting in casualties and damage, was made on a coastguard station. On the 3d February, a raid was made for arms on a military depot in Tel-Aviv. On the 6th a raid resulting in casualties was made for arms on a military camp near Jaffa. On the 20th damage was done to a radar station at Haifa. On the 22d attacks were made on police camps, and on the 26th military airfields were attacked. On the 6th March, a military camp was attacked. The total casualties suffered from these incidents in Palestine from the end of the war in Europe to the day of our arrival in Palestine were 45 killed and 278 wounded.
It seems clear that the threats to public order in Palestine during the Mandatory period have arisen very largely out of the conflict between Arabs and Jews with regard to Jewish immigration viewed in the light of its effect upon the political future of the country. Until 1939, violence came from the Arabs, protesting against continued Jewish immigration. Since 1939, it has come from the Jews, protesting against restrictions upon such immigration. In 1936 the Arab leaders indicated their inability to halt violence. In 1946 the Jewish leaders did likewise.