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British Police Report: Arab Flight From Haifa
April 26, 1948

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In the chaos that ensued following the decision of the UN to partition Palestine, Palestinian Arabs began fleeing from major towns, including Haifa. Part of the flight was directed from above, by the Arab higher command, part was due to fear following the attack of Jewish dissidents on Deir Yassin on April 9, in which over a hundred Arab civilians were killed. In Haifa, Jewish attacks by the Hagganah and Irgun as well as Arab attacks and Jewish counter-attacks, turned the city into a battle field. Some Jewish authorities, notably the mayor of Haifa and labor leader Abba Khoushi, as well as Hagganah high command,  intervened to try to convince Arabs to stay, but the leadership explained that Arab higher committee members had left, the community was disintegrating as they talked, and there was nothing they could do. The case of Haifa is frequently cited by Zionists to show that the flight of the Arabs was not precipitated by the Jewish leadership, and that the Arabs left of their own accord or on orders from the Arab Higher committee. Even in Haifa, the reality was much more complex. The leaders departed. Armed gangs took over the streets and used them as bases for attacks on the Jewish quarters, and the Jews returned fire. The Irgun began looting in Arab quarters as well as conducting terror operations. Haifa was the only city in which Jewish leaders pleaded with Arabs to stay.

By the end of April, much of the Arab populace of Haifa had left. By the end of the war of independence, there were about 780,000 Palestinian refugees.

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District Police Headquarters
P.O.B. 700.
26th April, 1948.

A/A.I.G.,  C.I.D.

Subject:-         General Situation Haifa District.

Haifa remains quiet. Yesterday produced a noticeable change in the general atmosphere and businesses and shops in the lower town were open for the first time in many days. Traffic started to move normally around the town and people returning to the places of business filled the streets. In fact, Haifa presented a more normal appearance than it had done for a long while. Some Arabs were seen moving among the Jews in the lower town and German Colony area and these were allowed free and unmolested passage. An appeal has been made to the Arabs by the Jews to reopen their shops and businesses in order to relieve the difficulties of feeding the Arab population.  Evacuation was still going on yesterday and several trips were made by 'Z' craft to Acre.  Roads too, were crowded with people leaving Haifa with all their belongings.  At a meeting yesterday afternoon Arab leaders reiterated their determination to evacuate the entire Arab population and they have been given the loan of ten 3-ton military trucks as from this morning to assist the evacuation.

Yesterday morning a Jew attempted to pass the drop barrier of Police H.Q. facing Palmers Gate wheeling a barrow. He was shot and killed by a Police sentry.

At 0640 hrs. yesterday Tireh village was again attacked with mortar fire. Casualties and damage not known.

A report has been received from Military to the effect that at 23.50 hrs. yesterday Jews attacked Acre from the direction of Ein Hamifratz and Tall al Pukhkhar. An advance Party succeeded in demolishing three houses in the Manshiya Quarter and then heavy mortar fire was directed at the town. Several mortar bombs landed in Acre Prison and all the inmates have escaped. The British Warden staff are safe. Military proceeded to the scene and opened fire with artillery on Ein Hemifratz. The Jews thereupon withdrew and a convoy of 11 vehicles was seen proceeding in the direction of Haifa. Casualties to both sides are not known.

(A.J. Bidmead.)

Copy:-.District Commissioner, Haifa
Superintendent of Police, Haifa

Source: Carl Hermann Voss, The Palestine Problem Today (Boston, 1953).

Source: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.


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