Communication Received from Colonel Roscher Lund
Concerning the police situation in Palestine
(Memorandum by Colonel Roscher Lund)
It consists of a Headquarters (in Jerusalem) and six police districts in accordance with the administrative division of the country. The districts of the police are the following: Jerusalem, Lydda (H.Q.Jaffa), Haifa, Gaza, Samaria (H.Q.Nahlus), Galilee (H.Q.Nazareth).
The personnel serving at Headquarters is approximately 400-500. Of these, about fifty per cent are police personnel, the other fifty per cent are civilians employed as clerks, shorthand-typists, etc. Similarly, the number of personnel in a district H.Q. is 100-150, of which the proportion of police personnel compared with civilians is 75-25. Of the police personnel serving at police H.Q. and district H.Q.’s, on the average about fifty per cent are British, twenty-five per cent Arab, and twenty-five per cent Jewish, according to whether the area of the district is predominately Arab or Jewish. In most mixed areas Arabs and Jews work together.
The District H.Q.’s have under their command police divisions, of which there are between two and seven in each district. The divisions again have under their command a number of police stations, police posts, frontier control posts and coast guard stations, varying in number in the different districts from about fifteen to thirty.
The total number of police personnel in Palestine has varied considerably during the period of the Mandate, according to the general security situation in the country.
The strength of the police in Palestine is shown below for the years 1939, 1945, and 1948. It should be noted that the police and prison services were separated from the police in 1945 end that the figures for 1948 (23 March) already are influenced by the termination of the Mandate.
The temporary additional police in 1948 fall into three categories:
1) Temporary additional police with general duties are to be regarded as temporary reinforcement of the regular police and occupied with the guarding of government buildings, public institutions, etc;
2) Jewish settlement police connected with the security of Jewish settlements end paid from Government funds;
3) The municipal police formed recently, with the situation after withdrawal of the British Administration on 15 May in view. It is formed both on the Arab and the Jewish side in entirely Jewish and Arab areas, particularly in towns. The force here in Jerusalem is planned to consist of 300 Arabs and 300 Jews. They work under the police in close co-operation with the mayors of the respective communities. The plan in forming, these units has been to leave behind an organized police force when the British police are withdrawn, which, to some extent, can undertake the duties of the police.
The duties of the Palestine police force are prevention, detection, and prosecution of crime, apprehension of offenders, maintenance of public order, and safety of persons and property.
To this end, the police organs are working in following branches:
Mounted Police (not in cities)
Security police (mainly guard duties)
Regarding the practical police work in contact with the population, the following facts should be kept in mind:
Arab and Jewish regular police can only be used in Arab and Jewish communities respectively. In mixed areas British police have to be used, as well as in all cases of political strife, when one side of the population is rioting against the Government. This accounts for the relatively large British police force in Palestine.
The majority of senior police officers are British as well as most of the higher administrative officers. Thus the number of Arabs or Jews with experience in this sort of work is very limited. Much of the criminal investigation work has been dealt with by Arab and Jewish Palestinian police officers because of the necessary contacts with the population and some people useful in this connection are available.
The number of Jews in the force has always been lower than its allotted proportion based on relative strength of population. This seems mainly due to the relatively low rates of payment applicable to Palestinians.
The police H.Q. stations or posts are to a considerable degree situated in Government-owned buildings, of which a list is attached. About sixty of the approximately 110 buildings were built between 1939 and 1944, as a result of the findings of the Tegart Commission. These houses were built with a view to being easily defended by a minimum force and are really small fortresses. Thirteen of these buildings also have facilities for other Government activities.
The main stores for the Palestine police have been under the control of the Police H.Q. Also the main workshops have been under the Police H.Q. and situated conveniently, not always in Jerusalem. The main workshop for vehicles is thus in Haifa. Under the H.Q. the divisions have been the store accounting units with smaller stores, for daily needs.
All police personnel in Palestine are carrying weapons, either rifle or pistol. Apart from this the police have a number of other weapons and equipment as shown in the Appendixes 1 to 4.
For the most part, police supplies, i.e. rations, petrol, and oil, etc, are at the moment obtained locally from British Army authorities. Ninety-nine point five per cent of all equipment, i.e. clothing, arms, and ammunition, vehicles, saddling, signal equipment (W/T) etc, is obtained from the United Kingdom against payment from Palestine Government funds. The 0.5 per cent, i.e. officers’ and inspectors’ uniforms, certain items of furniture, etc, are obtained by local purchase.
Expenditure on police supplies has been estimated one year in advance and has been allowed for in the annual budget.
All outstanding orders for stores placed in the United Kingdom have been cancelled and reserve stocks are low. All equipment is British. This means that considerable difficulties will arise if no arrangement with the United Kingdom can be reached regarding supplies of spare parts and replacements for all sorts of material, and, above all, ammunition for all weapons. If ammunition, replacements and spare parts for weapons cannot be obtained from the United Kingdom I doubt whether it will pay to get the relatively small quantities obtainable elsewhere. The situation on all these points ought to be investigated at once. The types of equipment involved are mentioned in Appendices 1, 2 and 4. The value of the equipment is probably more than $5,000,000.
At the end of the Mandate the British police are prepared to hand over to appropriate United Nations authorities all existing stores, material and equipment.
It should be recognized what will happen in Palestine in a given area when the police withdraw. Many public services, such as post offices, telephone exchanges, telegraph offices, pumping stations for water, courts, etc. have a mixed Arab-Jewish staff. This is equally true of certain large factories whose operation is essential to the communities, such as the oil installations at Haifa. Most of the electric generators are driven by oil, as are water pumping stations. Oil is also used as fuel for heating and cooking, apart from fuel for ours. All these activities will continue as long as the police are present to safeguard one section of the employees against the other. When the police withdraw, however, these activities will either cease entirely, or be taken over by one of the opposing groups end rash reduced.
As withdrawal by the British from Palestine continues, the Palestine police have also laid down a policy for leaving areas where no United Nations authority in present to take over responsibility. The following policy has been laid down end preparations made:
A British volunteer police force has been formed to work in Haifa and assist the British forces during the final stages of the withdrawal. This force will be withdrawn with the last of the troops.
A six months’ supply of all equipment and material has been handed out to the districts. In areas where any local authority has the power and intent to go on for half a year with a regular police force, this can be done.
Automatic weapons have not been handed out for use by Arabs or Jews for some tine, except in very special cases. In any event, automatic weapons are not regular police arms, but have only been in use by the police because of the extraordinary circumstances.
Horses and camels belonging to the mounted force have been shot, in the case of animals over twelve ye are of age, or cold, with preference for police personnel who have used the animals regularly. A number can, therefore, be re-acquired if these police officers are eventually re-employed by the United Nations.
The general procedure after 5 May regarding police organs left by the British and not taken over by United Nations authorities will be as follows:
The police Headquarters stations, posts and stores will be left with their equipment. One rifle or pistol will be left with each policeman and ammunition of about 150 rounds to carry on police duties during a short period. The personnel in any institution belonging to a minority will be removed from the institution before the British police leave, to save them from being killed.
In areas of predominantly Arab or Jewish population, negotiations with the local authorities will be conducted and the police institutions placed in charge of the community. An indeterminate number of police institutions with equipment may in this way be saved, to be taken over eventually by Government when a final decision is reached. It must, however, be made clear that a number of the institutions will be contested by both sides and probably destroyed during fighting. Whether other institutions in the uncontested area of the one or the other party will be occupied by fighting forces and the buildings and equipment used, disposed of or destroyed, in connection with non-police activities is another unknown factor.
Two matters deserve particular attention in connection with the withdrawal of the British police:
Archives Orders have been given to destroy all archives in district and divisional H.Q.’s and their subordinate stations. In the Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, however there still exist full archives of all important documents. These include, for example, finger-print archives built up during more than twenty-five years, case histories of all criminal investigations, and personal files for all police personnel who have served with the Palestine police. It will not need a policeman to appreciate the value of these archives. It would certainly be a day of joy for Palestinian criminals when it was known that these archives had been destroyed. The archives, however, represent a weight of something like 30-40 tons and cannot be removed. When the British police leave Jerusalem, the personal files of police personnel will be destroyed, the rest of the archives left behind to an unknown fate, if no one is there to take them over.
Weapons and Ammunition The police force will take armoured cars and automatic weapons to Haifa for the use of the volunteer police force there as long as it is in existence. To leave these cars and weapons anywhere in Palestine would obviously be to feed oil to the fire already raging all over the country. Theme weapons can be put at the disposal of any authorized United Nations police force arriving here. If such a force, however, does not arrive, the General Inspector must have instructions what to do with this material. He does not feel that, on his own responsibility he has the authority to destroy them, as they are the property of the Palestine Government.
During withdrawal, there will be surplus stocks of small weapons, and ammunition exceeding the 150 rounds per weapon in a number of places. These stocks (estimated at 1,000,000-1,500,000 rounds) cannot be transported and the General Inspector doe not feel he has the right to destroy them without appropriate authorization. This question is very urgent, as withdrawal is proceeding. We recommend that the Commission give authorization, if possible by telegram, for destruction of these stocks of ammunition.
We feel that the steps taken by the Palestinian Police and its planning for further actions during withdrawal, the present difficulties in Palestine being taken into consideration, have been sensible and well adapted to the situation.
It will be noted that these arms are dispersed throughout Palestine, amongst all sections of the Force.