HC Deb 27 November 1945 vol 416 cc1257-8W
Mr. Renton

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement about the recent disturbances in Tripolitania, with particular reference to the cause of such disturbances; the places where they occurred; and the steps taken for the prevention of similar disturbances in future.

Mr. Lawson

The Jewish community in Tripolitania have lived in friendly relations with the Arabs for many centuries. Although political tension had increased in the territory owing to the uncertainty regarding its future there was no reason to anticipate an anti-Jewish outburst. The outburst itself appears to have been a spontaneous reaction to similar troubles in Egypt regarding the Palestine situation. Later evidence points to local political instigation on the part of Arab extremists.

The disturbances began in Tripoli City on the night 4th/5th November at first in the form of mob violence which was checked by the following night by the intervention of the garrison. The disturbances, which were aggravated by hooliganism and looting, then spread to the suburbs and outlying towns (in particular Zanzur, Cassabat, Zliten, Zavia) when the attacks became sporadic and widely dispersed, with incendiarism, street assaults and attacks on individual houses by single Arabs or small parties, making it difficult to restore security quickly. By 8th November the situation was again quiet. Five hundred and seventy-five arrests were made, and trials began on 8th November.

Additional Military Government personnel have been despatched to Tripolitania; a curfew was imposed. Sermons denouncing the extremists have been preached in all Tripolitan mosques, and statements to the same effect have been issued by the Secretary-General of the Arab League and El Sayyid Idris El Senussi. Arabs have also contributed to a voluntary relief organisation for the Jews.