HC Deb 05 May 1948 vol 450 cc1238-9
27. Dr. Segal

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any statement to make on the present situation in Jaffa; and whether any casualties were sustained by British personnel during the recent fighting in that area.

Mr. Rees-Williams

In the early hours of 28th April a heavy attack on the Arab town of Jaffa was made by the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the method adopted being an indiscriminate mortar bombardment, apparently designed to create panic among the civilian inhabitants. British forces intervened, supported by aircraft, and in the course of the afternoon the Jews retired to their original positions. By nightfall the border was quiet except for occasional sniping. A cease-fire was ordered for both sides by the military commander and was observed. British troops then occupied a line between Arabs and Jews on the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa border. On the evening of 30th April, the cease-fire order was broken by fire from the Jewish side, which was quickly silenced by military action. Latest reports indicate that the town is now quiet. As a rough estimate, some 30,000 Arabs left Jaffa and more are leaving. The Arab mayor is still in Jaffa and municipal services are functioning, although with difficulty. Casualties suffered by British forces were one non-commissioned officer killed, and five other ranks wounded.

Dr. Segal

Can the Under-Secretary state whether British personnel will be retained in the Jaffa area until all the evacuated Arabs have returned, or whether we are still committed to evacuate Jaffa, come what may, on 1st August?

Mr. Rees-Williams

Well, I cannot make any further announcement at this point, other than that generally made with regard to Palestine as a whole.

Mr. Pickthorn

Has the Under-Secretary any information about what has become of the 30,000 or more Arabs who have left Jaffa—where they have gone to and what is happening to them?

Mr. Rees-Williams

I am afraid I have not. I can get that information if the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question.