HC Deb 23 April 1936 vol 311 cc301-2
38. Mr. WHITE

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make relating to the disturbances in Palestine?


I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT, a statement giving full information in regard to the recent disturbances in Palestine, which started on 15th April, and which unfortunately resulted in 16 Jews and five Arabs being killed, and 75 Jews and 72 Arabs injured. I will take this opportunity, however, of emphasising that the maintenance of law and order is a matter exclusively for His Majesty's Government and will be enforced against anyone breaking the law, and, further, that His Majesty's Government will not be deviated from their policy by riots or threats of any kind.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that recent events in Palestine ought to confirm the administration in its view that it is now ripe for a legislative council?


I hope the hon. Member does not intend to convey that any decision of this House or expression of opinion in this House is responsible for the disorder. I am much more concerned in conveying to everybody in Palestine that His Majesty's Government are determined to maintain law and order.

Following is the statement:

On 15th April, in the course of a general hold-up by Arabs on the main roads between Nablus and Tulkarm, one Jew was killed and two Jews seriously wounded. In the early morning of 17th April two Arabs on the main road north of Petah Tikvah were murdered in their huts. On 17th April, in connection with the funeral of the Jew killed on 15th April, Jewish crowds demonstrated in Tel Aviv and attempted to penetrate into Jaffa. They were turned back by the police, whom they stoned. They were dispersed with baton charges, and a number of arrests were made. On 18th April there were several incidents and Jews assaulted Arabs in Tel Aviv. These attacks were promptly dealt with by the police. On 19th April, at 10.30 a.m., following upon the circulation of a rumour that more Arabs had been killed by Jews, which was promptly and officially denied, clashes occurred between Arabs and Jews on the border between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, involving a number of casualties on both sides and police intervention. The police found it necessary to open fire, after due warning had been given; I understand that only three rounds were fired, two in order to stop a murderous assault upon a Jew actually in progress, and one in order to disperse the crowd. On 20th April there were renewed disturbances in Jaffa and on the border of Tel Aviv. The police intervened and restored order.

It has not been necessary to employ troops against the crowds, but the High Commissioner has ordered certain precautionary troop movements. As a further precautionary measure the High Commissioner thought it advisable to put into operation on 19th April the Defence Order-in-Council under which emergency regulations are brought into force, and the curfew was imposed in Jaffa and Tel Aviv on that night.

The following communiqués were issued by the High Commissioner on 21st April: (1) The situation in Jaffa this morning is mainly quiet, a few small gatherings have been dispersed by the police. Most of the shops are shut. All is quiet in Jerusalem where some of the shops are shut. Most of the shops in Hebron are also shut. In Northern District several schools are on strike at Nablus and Tulkarm and most of the shops are shut at Nablus, Tulkarm, Jenin, Safad and Beisan. The situation in Haifa is almost normal and there is nothing to report from the rest of the country. (2) This afternoon crowds which had collected in the streets of Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm dispersed quietly. There have been some further outbreaks of fire on the boundary between Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Shortly after 3 p.m. to-day an attempt was made by a crowd of Arabs to attack the settlement of Hetikvaih near Salameh. The police on the spot kept the crowd at a distance until reinforcements arrived and dispersed them; subsequently an Arab was arrested in possession of a firearm. No other incidents of importance have been reported from Jaffa or elsewhere. The public are specially warned against giving credence or currency to unsubstantiated rumours likely to create uneasiness in the minds of the people. Under Emergency Regulations the High Commissioner has prohibited all dealing in arms, ammunition and explosives, and ordered that all persons in possession of such articles shall keep them in such secure places as the police may approve. The Curfew Regulation remains in force in Jaffa and Tel Aviv. Two Jews previously wounded died to-day. Fourteen Arabs and five Jews are reported to have been injured in the course of isolated assaults to-day. The latest information is given in the following communiqués issued by the High Commissioner on 22nd April: (1) There has been little change in the situation up to noon to-day and in general quiet prevails. In most of the towns in Palestine the majority of the shops other than cafés are shut. In Jerusalem most of the Arab shops are closed; arrests have been made of persons attempting to force shopkeepers to shut their shops. In Haifa work in the port is normal; buses are running between Haifa and Acre, and restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc., remain open. There has been a cessation of work in the port of Jaffa. No incidents have been reported in the Jerusalem and Southern districts. In the Northern district a group of cars were stoned and held up near Jenin by a crowd largely composed of villagers and the police escort forced to fire three rounds in defence of the occupants two of whom had been injjured. It was rumoured last evening that a disturbance had occurred at Lifta on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This rumour was false and without any foundation. (2) The High Commissioner visited Jaffa and Tel Aviv this afternoon. Accompanied by the District Commissioner His Excellency called at Jaffa Municipal Hospital where he was met by the Mayor of Jaffa and visited those injured in the recent disturbances. His Excellency then proceeded to the Municipal Hospital of Tel Aviv where he was met by the Mayor and two deputy Mayors and visited those injured in the disturbances. His Excellency then returned to Jaffa through the Man-shieh quarter where he saw the evidence of the recent incendiarism. His Excellency visited each post in Jaffa of the Cameron Highlanders and on his way back to Jerusalem took tea with the Mayor of Ramleh. No incidents have been reported up to 6 p.m. this evening and the situation remains generally quiet in all districts. The villagers from near Jenin who, as reported in the previous communiqué took part in bolding up a group of cars have returned to their villages. Two Arabs have been arrested at Saknet Abukebir for spreading false rumours. The total casualties at Jaffa-Tel Aviv from the beginning of the disturbances until this morning are as follow: Sixteen Jews have been killed or died of wounds and 26 have been admitted to hospital suffering from injuries. Five Arabs have been killed or died of wounds and 31 have been admitted to hospital suffering from injuries. Forty-one Arabs and 49 Jews are under treatment as out-patients. Eight other persons were slightly injured. The curfew regulation remains in force at Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
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