Question of Palestine home
"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
League of Nations
31 December 1938
by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the
Council of the League of Nations
on the Administration of
for the year 1938
REPORT BY HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT IN THE
UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN
IRELAND TO THE COUNCIL OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
ON THE ADMINISTRATION OF
PALESTINE AND TRANS-JORDAN FOR THE YEAR 1938.
Palestine lies on the western edge of the continent of Asia between latitude 30° N. and 33° N., Longitude 34° 30 E. and 35° 30' E.
On the North it is bounded by the French Mandated Territories of Syria and the Lebanon, on the East by Syria and Trans-Jordan, on the South-west by the Egyptian province of Sinai, on the South-east by the Gulf of `Aqaba and on the West by the Mediterranean. The frontier with Syria was laid down by the Anglo-French Convention of the 23rd December, 1920, and its delimitation was ratified in 1923. Briefly stated, the boundaries are as follows:--
.--From Ras en Naqura on the Mediterranean eastwards to a point west of Qadas, thence in a northerly direction to Metulla, thence east to a point west of Banias.
.--From Banias in a southerly direction east of Lake Hula to Jisr Banat Ya'pub, thence along a line east of the Jordan and the Lake of Tiberias and on to El Hamme station on the Samakh--Deraa railway line, thence along the centre of the river Yarmuq to its confluence with the Jordan, thence along the centres of the Jordan, the Dead Sea and the Wadi `Araba to a point on the Gulf of `Aqaba two miles west of the town of `Aqaba, thence along the shore of the Gulf of `Aqaba to Ras Jaba.
.--From Ras Jaba in a generally north-westerly direction to the junction of the Neki--`Aqaba and Gaza--`Aqaba Roads, thence to a point west-north-west of `Ain Maghara and thence to a point on the Mediterranean coast north-west of Rafa.
--The Mediterranean Sea.
AREA AND CLIMATE.
2. The average length of Palestine from south to north is about 160 miles and its extreme width from east to west is less than 70 miles, the total area being approximately 10,000 square miles inclusive of a water area of 261 square miles (the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias and Lake Huleh). In size it is therefore comparable with Wales or Belgium.
3. The climate of Palestine, affected by the neighbouring deserts of Arabia and Nubia as well as by nearby temperate zones, is characterized generally by a dry, warm, but not excessively hot summer, and a mild winter with heavy periodical rainfalls accompanied by high, cold winds; frost is rare. But the typical climate is varied by the diverse topography of the country. In the south and south-west there are wide expanses of sand dunes and desert. The remainder of the country falls naturally into three longitudinal strips--the maritime plain, the mountainous regions (or central highlands), and the Jordan valley. Each of these strips, which are more closely described below, is climatically distinct.
The climate of the maritime plain is warm but equable; the heat of summer and the cold of winter are both tempered by the westerly winds from the Mediterranean. In the central highlands there is a greater range of temperature both daily and seasonal, and the maximum temperature is a few degrees lower than in the coastal plains. Snow and hail occasionally fall in Jerusalem and Hebron, and the winter storms are accompanied by penetrating winds which necessitate the use of clothing suitable for a cold English climate.
The Jordan valley is tropical. The high air pressure and the excessive heat in summer combine to produce most oppressive conditions, but the winter in this region is warm and balmy.
The maritime plain and the central highlands are both healthy, though the one, on account of greater humidity, is relaxing in its effects, while the other, through sudden changes of temperature, predisposes to chills and respiratory complaints.
4. The following records are typical of the three climatic zones:--
Mean daily maximum
Mean daily minimum
Absolute maximum temperature
Absolute minimum temperature
69 per cent.
70 per cent.
55 per cent.
68 per cent.
51 per cent.
64 per cent.
5. Rainfall is of vital importance in Palestine and any reduction in its quantity arouses concern for the prospects of agriculture and water conservation generally. The mean volume of annual rainfall is roughly equal to that of the rainfall in the east
There are two well-marked periods of precipitation. The "former rain" in October and November is not usually large; during December, January and February, the rainfall steadily increases; in March it begins to abate, and it is practically ended in April. The characteristic winds are the moist west and southwest of winter and the dry north and north-west of summer. Desert heat is brought by the sirocco from the hot deserts of the south or east generally in April and May and occasionally in September and October.
6. Along the greater part of the western seaboard lies a stretch of fertile plain of sand and sandy loam soil. In the south this plain has an average width of about 20 miles, but it gradually narrows to the north until at Mount Carmel, near Haifa, the hills approach to within a few hundred yards of the sea. Beyond Carmel the plain widens again, but in this area it is marshy and malarial.
The second strip consists of two distinct mountainous regions divided sharply by the Plain of Esdraelon. To the north of that plain are the mountains of Galilee extending beyond the Syrian frontier and rising at Jebel Jermak to a height of 3,934 ft. above sea-level; to the south are the mountains of Samaria and Judea, which in places reach heights little less than those of Galilee. Most of this second strip of country is desolate and stony, but at irregular intervals there occur stretches of fertile land capable of deep tillage.
The Plain of Esdraelon, which cuts so sharply through the mountain system of Palestine, is roughly triangular in shape. Though the soil is here of a heavier and more clayey texture than that of the coastal plain, Esdraelon is proverbially fertile and is especially suitable for cereal production.
The third and eastern strip of country is the Jordan valley, a natural depression which, starting from sea-level in the extreme north of the country, falls gradually to a depth of 1,300 ft. below that level at the Dead Sea, about 100 miles to the south.
7. The capital of Palestine is Jerusalem, situated in the midst of the hills of Judea, and the principal towns are Haifa, with its modern harbour, in the north at the entrance to the plain of Esdraelon; Jaffa, a second port which lies some 40 miles west- north-west of Jerusalem; Tel Aviv, which is contiguous to Jaffa; and Nablus, the ancient Sichem, in the hills of Samaria. Jerusalem has a majority of Jewish inhabitants; in Haifa the Arab and Jewish elements are approximately equal in numbers; Tel Aviv is an entirely Jewish township of 150,000 inhabitants. In Jaffa a large majority of the people are Arabs, and in Nablus, apart from a small community of Samaritans, all the people are Arabs.
Other important towns where the population consists of both Arabs and Jews are Hebron, 20 miles to the south of Jerusalem; Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee; and Safad, a remote town in mountainous country in the extreme north of Palestine.
THE HIGH COMMISSIONER.
8. Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., C.I.E., D.S.O., High Commissioner for Palestine and Trans-Jordan, retired on grounds of health in March, 1938, and was succeeded by Sir Harold Alfred MacMichael, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., formerly Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Tanganyika Territory.
CHANGES IN PERSONNEL, 1938.
9. During the year the following left Palestine on retirement:--
Mr. M. T. Dawe, O.B.E., Director of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Mr. K. W. Stead, C.B.E., Director of Customs, Excise and Trade.
Mr. F. Pudsey, Director of Public Works.
Col. F. J. Salmon, C.M.G., M.C., Commissioner for Lands and Surveys.
Miss M. Nixon, M.B.E., Infant Welfare Inspector.
Mr. C. E. de B. Biden, Auditor.
Mr. G. MacLaren, O.B.E., District Commissioner.
Mr. R. Hedley, Assistant Director of Public Works.
Mr. P. Noble, District Engineer, Public Works Department.
Mr. H. W. Simpson, Commercial Manager, Palestine Railways.
Mr. S. Fry, Director of Programmes, Palestine Broadcasting Service, Mr. A. Kemp, Chief Telephone Superintendent, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, and Mr. S. A. Cudmore, Government Statistician, reverted to their substantive posts in the British Broadcasting Corporation, British Post Office and Canadian Bureau of Statistics respectively, on the expiration of their periods of secondment to Palestine.
The following were the principal appointments made during the year:--
Mr. M. Bailey, O.B.E., Assistant District Commissioner, was appointed District Commissioner, Haifa and Samaria District.
Mr. G. Walsh, C.B.E., was appointed Economic Adviser to the High Commissioner.
Captain C. Wilson Brown, O.B.E., M.C., Director of Public Works, Sierra Leone, was appointed Director of Public Works.
Mr. M. J. Flanagan, Auditor, Uganda, was appointed Auditor.
Mr. R. W. B. Belt was appointed Director of Customs, Excise and Trade on secondment from the English Customs Service.
Mr. R. W. Hamilton, Chief Inspector in the Department of Antiquities, was appointed Director of Antiquities.
Mr. G. R. E. Foley, O.B.E., District Superintendent of Police, was appointed Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Mr. L. A. W. Orr, Registrar of the High Court in Tanganyika Territory, was appointed Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court.
Mr. G. E. F. Wood, was seconded from the Canadian Government and appointed Government Statistician.
Mr. C. B. McNair, Deputy Director of Programmes in the Palestine Broadcasting Service, was appointed Director of Programmes.
Mr. C. E. V. Buxton, M.C., Colonial Administrative Service, was seconded from Kenya and appointed to administer the Gaza and Beersheba division of the Southern District with the powers and functions of a District Commissioner.
The following, who were formerly administrative officers in the territories indicated against their names, were seconded to Palestine as Assistant District Commissioners:--
Mr. C. B. Norman--Kenya.
Mr. R. C. H. Greig--Tanganyika.
Mr. K. C. Tours--Gold Coast.
Mr. F. W. G. Blenkinsop--Nigeria.
Mr. D. Headly--Malaya.
Mr. E. R. Reeves--Nigeria.
Mr. I. L. Phillips--Gold Coast.
Mr. F. D. Corfield--Sudan.
Mr. G. W. Bell--Sudan.
Mr. A. E. S. Charles--Sudan.
10. During 1938 public security in Palestine, particularly during the seven months from June onwards, continued to cause the administration grave preoccupation. An intensified campaign of murder, intimidation and sabotage persisted on lines similar to those followed by Arab law breakers in 1937; and, as in 1937, there were isolated incidents of Jewish reprisals. The main difference between the course of events in 1938 and that in 1937 lay in the gradual development during 1938 of Arab gang warfare on organized and to a certain extent co-ordinated lines. By the end of the year, as the result of the arrival in the autumn of large military reinforcements, this gang organization was first dislocated and finally reduced to comparative impotence in the field. But in the towns terrorism persisted and the roads were still largely unsafe for normal traffic. In fact, the events of 1938 succeeded in seriously affecting the economic and social life of the country to an extent far greater than was the case in 1937.
Summarized Narrative Account of the Events of the Year
During the early part of the month the effect of the vigorous action taken in December, 1937, against armed gangs, especially in Galilee continued to be felt; but in the second half of the month the gangs resumed their activities, particularly in the Jenin-Tulkarm area where an important military action against them took place on the 31st. They suffered extensive casualties estimated at 30 killed and many more wounded. Two
British soldiers were killed, and two wounded.
During the month, particularly in the Jerusalem district where constant attacks involving four Jewish deaths were made on Jewish traffic along the Jerusalem--Jaffa road, sporadic acts of lawlessness persisted in the form of isolated murders, shooting at the police and military forces, and attacks on Jewish settlements. On the 10th, Mr. J. L. Starkey, the well-known archaeologist, was murdered by a party of armed Arabs on the track leading from Beit Jibrin to Hebron.
Although there was a decrease in attacks on Jewish transport near Jerusalem, the number of incidents of shooting by small armed parties increased, especially during the last two weeks. There was also an increase in the number of armed robberies in Arab villages by parties of marauders seeking food, money and lodging.
Incidents of personal violence persisted. They were mainly directed against Arab villagers of whom two, one a blind man and the other a supernumerary constable, were murdered on the 11th by armed men at Attara village in the Ramallah sub-district. Three other incidents deserve mention. On the 16th, immediately after the execution at Acre of an Arab condemned to death by the Haifa Military Court, an unsuccessful attempt was made to shoot a British Assistant Superintendent of Police outside the gate of the prison. On the 18th, Squadron Leader Alderson, R.A.F., was shot dead, and an Englishwoman driving with him was wounded, when his car was ambushed on the Haifa--Tel Aviv road near Athlit. On the 28th, the Jewish headman of a settlement near Nazareth was shot dead by an Arab who was arrested next morning, having been tracked by the police dogs from the scene of the murder to a neighbouring Arab village.
There were no major encounters between the military and police and the armed gangs, but acts of armed banditry, particularly in Galilee and northern Samaria, increased towards the end of the month.
On the 3rd, there was a heavy engagement west of Jenin in which a military force, with aircraft co-operation, engaged and dispersed an armed band of between two and three hundred Arabs. One British officer was killed and an officer and two soldiers wounded. The losses among the band were thirty known to be killed and were estimated at twice that number. Sixteen prisoners were taken and a considerable quantity of arms, ammunition and bombs.
Six days later contact was established by the army, assisted by aircraft, with another band in mountainous country in the north of Galilee. It was engaged throughout the day and was finally routed, its few remnants escaping over the frontier into the Lebanon where four men were captured by French forces. During the encounter one British soldier was killed and another slightly wounded. Sixteen of the band were killed and one captured, while it is believed that further casualties were inflicted.
These two severe reverses, and the fact that the casualties inflicted on the bands included two prominent leaders, had the effect of breaking up the bands into small parties and there were no further major engagements during the month.
There was, however, an increase in acts of terrorist violence throughout the country, including a series of murders of Arab villagers. A British soldier was fatally injured by the explosion of a bomb under a railway trolley in the Gaza sub-district, and a Palestinian army interpreter with his Arab chauffeur were captured by armed Arabs near Acre. Neither was ever heard of again. Of the Jewish casualties six, including three women and a boy, were murdered when the taxi in which they were travelling was ambushed on the Acre--Safad road.
On the 21st, a sheikh of the Haram el Sherif in Jerusalem was shot and seriously wounded in the Old City.
Other terrorist activities during the month included a further increase in cases of armed robbery by small parties of Arab villagers; attacks on Jewish settlements, including Hanuta a new settlement near the northern frontier, when one settler was killed; four cases of sabotage of the Iraq Petroleum Company's pipe line in the Plain of Esdraelon; a large number of shooting incidents at police and military posts and patrols; and an increase in attempts to interfere with railway and telephonic communications.
Acts of terrorism increased in their various forms--murder, intimidation, sniping, robbery and sabotage.
The murders of Arab villagers included four headmen (mukhtars) and the sheikh of the village of Meirun near Safad. Six Arab policemen were surprised by an armed band in Samaria and murdered in their billet. Two more Arab policemen were shot when a party including the mayor of Nablus and a British assistant superintendent of police (who was wounded) was ambushed near Nablus; and two others were killed by the explosion of a bomb found on a local train near Haifa. Two British policemen were killed by the explosion of a second bomb.
On the 17th, a bomb was thrown into an Arab café in Haifa, killing one Arab and wounding ten others; and on the 21st two British soldiers were killed when a military patrol was shot at in the hills west of Jenin.
The Jewish casualties included a settler, a labourer in Haifa and a supernumerary constable, and three civilians travelling in a taxi which was ambushed near the northern frontier.
There was also an increase in shooting incidents against police and military patrols and Jewish settlements; in cases of armed robbery in Arab villages and the sabotage and attempted sabotage of communications and Government property. For the first time for many months damage was done to Jewish groves and forests. Finally, the oil pipe line was damaged on ten occasions.
Throughout the month the movements of the bands were mainly in small parties and several operations were carried out by the military and police to circumvent them. On the night of the 16th, in the hills north of Tulkarm, an engagement of considerable magnitude was fought with a band which was attacked and lost 14 men, while four others and a quantity of arms and ammunition were captured. Three less important encounters with smaller gangs took place--on the Jenin-Nablus road (the 6th April), near Arara in Samaria (the 8th April) and near Beisan (the 21st April), when further casualties were inflicted. At the end of the month military searches of two villages in Samaria resulted in the seizure of a number of firearms, ammunition, bombs and semi-military uniforms. Thirty-eight Arabs were arrested as a result of these searches.
Early in the month there was in increase in the activities of armed gangs in Samaria and Galilee, and on the 14th there was a major military encounter with a band in the Galilee district in which a succession of armed parties were dispersed with losses estimated at 38 killed. A quantity of arms and ammunition was seized and several arrests made. One British soldier was killed and another wounded. On the 20th, a military and police operation was carried out in Galilee and Samaria to occupy a number of selected villages in districts where lawlessness had been particularly rife. The objective, broadly, was to deny the areas in question to the gangs and to restore the control and authority of the Civil Government. It was carried out without incident and during the rest of the month there was only one major encounter when on the 26th the police engaged an armed band north of Petah Tikvah, killing six, wounding one and capturing a quantity of arms and ammunition.
There was, however, no diminution of terrorist acts. Twenty-two Arab villagers were murdered including three mukhtars and three women; in two ambushes on the Hebron road three Arab police were shot dead and another wounded; and in Haifa an Arab, who was the last surviving Crown witness in a case in 1935 when several Arabs were brought to trial following a bomb outrage in a Jewish settlement near Nazareth, was shot dead in the Arab market. Also in Haifa, an Arab detective sergeant and an Arab police sergeant were shot dead by unknown Arab assailants.
The Jewish casualties included a supernumerary constable in a Jewish settlement near the northern frontier which was attacked by an armed band, and a civilian in Tiberias who died as a result of bomb injuries.
On the 22nd of the month a Jewish pedlar was killed by Arabs in the outskirts of Jerusalem. This murder was followed by a series of reprisals in Jerusalem and Haifa on the 24th and 25th in which four Arabs and a Russian nun were killed and 13 Arabs were wounded. As the result, certain Jews were arrested and sent to Acre detention camp.
In other directions terrorist activities persisted unabated. There was a considerable increase in the number of incidents of shooting at police and military patrols and Jewish settlements, and also of sabotaging Government property, communications and, notably, Jewish-owned crops and trees. The oil pipe line was damaged on seven occasions.
The terrorist activities were almost a replica of the events of the two preceding months as regards acts of violence by Arabs against Arabs in the shape of village murders and armed robberies. There was also a marked increase in isolated murders of Jews, the majority being settlers in the Plain of Sharon and northern Galilee; in arson of Jewish crops and property; in attacks on Jewish settlements; and in shooting at police and military patrols. An Italian priest was killed by armed brigands in the Judaean foothills and a British soldier was killed and six others wounded by the explosion of a land mine on a country track in Samaria. On the 23rd and the two following days, on the Jaffa-Tel Aviv boundary, there were a series of incidents including bombing, shooting and stabbing in which two Arabs and two Jews were killed and 15 Arabs (including seven women) and seven Jews (including two women and a child) were wounded.
On the 23rd June, three Jewish youths were kidnapped by an Arab band from the old-established Jewish settlement of Givat Ada in the Plain of Sharon. Their fate has never been definitely ascertained.
On the 24th the announcement of the confirmation, by the General Officer Commanding, of the sentence of death passed by the Military Court at Haifa on a Jewish youth led to a series of demonstrations before and after the execution both in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, where hostile Jewish crowds had to be dispersed by the police.
During the same period there were a series of short-lived strikes in Arab towns in Samaria and Galilee in order to demonstrate Palestinian Arab sympathy with their compatriots in the Sanjak of Alexandretta.
Acts of sabotage also increased in number. Considerable damage was done to railway and telegraph communications without, however, causing any general or lengthy breakdown in these public services; the northern frontier fence, "Tegart's Wall" (see paragraph 18), was badly damaged on four occasions; there was an increase of land mine incidents particularly on tracks in the newly re-occupied areas and in the Gaza district; and the oil pipe line was damaged 18 times. Steps to protect the pipe line resulted in two engagements with Arabs, of whom four were killed, three wounded and seven taken prisoners.
No large armed bands were encountered by the army or the police despite constant patrolling. A certain number of casualties were, however, inflicted on small parties in minor encounters. On the 8th, military forces with aircraft assistance operated against villages in the southern Carmel hills and in the Jordan valley. The bands were dispersed with casualties and some arms and ammunition were captured.
The month of July produced a series of major outrages which caused death to 100 Arabs and 27 Jews, and injury to 206 Arabs and 64 Jews.
The two worst incidents occurred in Haifa when bombs exploded in the Arab fruit market in the centre of the town on the 6th and the 25th of the month. The casualties were 74 Arabs killed and 129 wounded. On both occasions confusion followed the explosions and there ensued short periods of rioting and violence in which 10 Jews lost their lives and 27 were injured. Between these two outrages, also in Haifa on the 10th July, a bomb thrown at a Jewish bus killed one Jew and wounded 15 others; and in a street fracas on the 11th two Jews were killed and 14 Jews and one Arab were wounded.
In Jerusalem there were three serious bombing incidents, two in the Old City when 13 Arabs were killed and 35 wounded and one outside the Jaffa Gate when five Arabs were killed and 25 wounded. In addition, isolated attacks within the municipal area resulted in several Arabs and Jews being killed and many more wounded.
In Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the 4th July one Arab was killed and four wounded on the boundary between the two towns; two days later in Tel Aviv a bomb, thrown at or from a train as it was passing a level crossing, killed a Jewess and injured four Jews; and on the 23rd a bomb, which had been placed in an unattended motor car in a crowded Jewish street in Tel Aviv, exploded, injuring twenty-three Jews, seven of them seriously.
Elsewhere in the country there was no diminution of acts of violence in the form of Arab village murders including two mukhtars; fatal attacks on Jewish settlers and Jewish supernumeries; shooting at an Arab taxi on the Haifa-Tel Aviv road when two Indian Moslems, visitors to Palestine, were killed and a third and the chauffeur were wounded; and the assassinations of an Arab police inspector in Tulkarm and a sheikh of the Haram el Sherif in Jerusalem.
Apart from these murderous activities, small parties of armed men did considerable damage throughout the month by sabotage, concentrating on telephone lines which suffered heavily; on the destruction of Jewish trees and crops; and on attempts to damage the railways as a result of one of which, on the 28th July, the Haifa-Kantara passenger train was badly derailed, the assistant engine driver being fatally injured. During the first half of the month, the frontier fence was cut and damaged three times. As the result of intense defensive patrolling, the oil pipe line was damaged only once during the month.
The succession of attacks, reprisals and counter reprisals caused widespread tension in both Arab and Jewish communities. In the Arab towns of Palestine, and also at Amman in Trans-Jordan there were a series of strikes in protest against the bombing outrages in Haifa and Jerusalem in which the casualties had been preponderantly Arab.
During the month military reinforcements arrived from Egypt. They were stationed in Samaria and Galilee and their presence produced its effect in a diminution of disorder, particularly in northern Galilee, during the last fortnight of the month. Military and police activities throughout the country concentrated on an intensification of patrolling both by day and by night; searches by large forces of extended areas in the Samaria and Ramallah districts; and the setting of ambushes in connection with the defence of the pipe line which resulted in the killing of 17 armed Arab saboteurs and the wounding of 10 to 15 more. It is believed that in addition to the above casualties, the Arab bands in their various sporadic encounters with the troops and police lost at least 50 killed and wounded.
On the 21st July 53 houses in the village of Baqa el Gharbiya were demolished following on a series of shooting incidents in the village in the last of which a company sergeant-major of a Scottish regiment was killed; and during the area search in Samaria, to which reference has already been made, a large number of Arabs were detained for identification and interrogation.
During the month sabotage persisted on an enhanced scale. The damage to the telephone and telegraph system throughout the country was assessed at more than P.6,000, while six trains were derailed. There were also two cases of slight damage to the northern frontier fence and the pipe line was twice damaged in the Plain of Esdraelon. In addition, there was an intensification of sniping attacks on road transport and on the 24th and the 25th of the month Jewish transport was heavily attacked at Ramleh on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road, two Jews being killed and five injured. On the 31st an Arab bus conveying passengers and mails from Tiberias to Jerusalem was held up near Nablus, four bags being stolen by an armed band.
There was likewise no abatement of the attacks on Jewish life and property. During the month four Jews were killed and 13 injured by the explosion of land mines on agricultural tracks in the Plain of Sharon; a Jewish lorry was ambushed on Mount Carmel, eight men being killed and two women wounded; and on the 28th a Jewish settlement near Haifa was attacked and two settlers were killed and one wounded. In the Mount Carmel incident the troops were quickly on the scene and engaged the ambushers, seven of whom were killed and many more wounded.
There were also two further cases of the kidnapping of Jews both on the Haifa-Tel Aviv road. Of the victims three returned eventually to their homes, but the fate of the remaining three was never ascertained. The kidnapping of Arabs by Arab terrorists also continued and during the month at least 50 Arabs were forcibly abducted by the terrorists. The dead bodies of several were subsequently recovered.
In addition to these outrages, three British subjects serving the Crown were murdered. On the 6th Constable Willis, of the Palestine Police Force, was shot dead in an Arab bus between Nablus and Jenin; on the 13th Captain Howe, of the Royal Engineers, was murdered in a traffic hold up between Jerusalem and Bethlehem; and on the 24th Mr. Moffat, the acting Assistant District Commissioner in Jenin, was fatally wounded by an Arab assassin who penetrated to his office. In this case the murderer was almost immediately apprehended by troops and, in an ensuing attempt to escape, was shot dead.
Apart from these incidents there were four serious hold-ups. On the 10th, an armed gang succeeded in robbing the Nablus branch of Barclays bank of over £P.5,000; on the 16th, a post office employee in Nablus was robbed of a bag containing £P.2,000; on the 21st, the Qalqiliya post office was raided and £P.36 stolen; and on the 30th, again in Nablus, a bank messenger was waylaid and robbed of over £P.200.
On the 19th, a general raid on Hebron town resulted in the urban police post, Barclays bank and the post office being attacked and extensively damaged. Early in the morning of the 25th, in Jaffa, a time bomb exploded in the crowded Arab vegetable market. This killed 24 Arabs and wounded 35, and immediately large and excited crowds of Arabs collected and attacked two local banks and a British grocery store. The attacks were repulsed by the police, but rioting of a sporadic nature persisted for two days resulting in the imposition of a daylight curfew and in the death of two Arab rioters and the wounding of nine others.
During the month military and police activities were intensively pursued. On the 18th, the troops engaged and routed a large band in the neighbourhood of the Acre-Safad road and armed bands throughout the country suffered at least 131 casualties in engagements with the troops and police.
During this month the casualties among the British troops and police, Jews and Arabs (excluding bandits) reached the formidable total of 188 killed and 156 wounded. In addition, rebellious activities, probably encouraged by the crisis in Europe, were more widespread than in previous months. In almost daily encounters with the troops and police the bands are known to have suffered total casualties of at least 311 killed and a large, though unknown, number wounded.
The main features of the gangs' activities were a marked increase in the number of Arabs forcibly abducted and in many cases subsequently murdered, their studied concentration on the destruction of Government buildings and property, and the carefully organized robberies of police armouries in outlying posts. In addition, attacks on Jewish life and property continued. Between the 2nd and the 7th of the month in the Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Lydda districts there were nineteen Jewish and one Arab casualties from stabbing, shooting and bomb throwing. On the 6th, in Tiberias, three Jews were killed and a Jew and an Arab wounded by four Arab assassins who were subsequently caught by the police.
On the 9th, Beersheba was raided by a large gang which, working with great precision, destroyed the wireless post, broke into the prison and released the prisoners, and after killing a British police sergeant, raided the police station and got away with a Lewis gun and a large quantity of rifles and ammunition. Later in the month all police and Government buildings in the town were set on fire and destroyed.
On the 10th, seven Jewish constables were killed in an ambush on the Gaza-Jaffa road and on the 13th, in Gaza town, armed men robbed postal employees of four mail bags, one of which contained over £P.1,000. In Beersheba, the Government offices were raided and the armed thieves decamped with over £P.150.
Meantime tension persisted in Jaffa where the troops were fired on and police headquarters were bombed. In Haifa there was a strike of shops in the Arab market. During the night of the 13th-14th a large gang raided Bethlehem and destroyed the police station and did considerable damage to the municipal and post offices.
The Arab attacks on road and rail transport also continued. A British officer and three British soldiers were killed by an explosion of a land mine on the northern frontier road; another land mine destroyed a motor car near Beisan, killing three Jewish passengers. A Jewish doctor was shot and killed when passing in his car through Ramleh where, as a result of events in Jaffa, Arab excitement ran very high. On the 16th, five trucks belonging to the Palestine Potash convoy were ambushed and destroyed on the Jerusalem-Jericho road and two Arab employees of the company were murdered; between the 18th and the 23rd well-laid land mines in different parts of the country were responsible for 12 casualties to British troops and nine to Jewish police constables. During the night of the 25th-26th, the railway track from Rafa to Lydda was destroyed over a distance of 12 kilometres with the result that rail traffic to Egypt was suspended for eight days.
Two major military engagements took place on the 14th and 15th of the month. On the 14th an armed band attempting to ambush a military ration convoy on the Jerusalem-Hebron road was heavily attacked by the troops and aircraft and lost sixteen killed and five prisoners. On the 15th, troops and aircraft engaged a strong band north-west of Ramallah and killed a large number. In neither engagement was there any Government casualties.
The following day, the 16th, a smaller engagement took place in the search of the same area in the Ramallah sub-district and five persons were killed and three wounded. One of the killed was an important gang leader.
During the month, the arrival of strong military reinforcements brought about an improvement of the security position. The Old City of Jerusalem, which had become the rallying point of a large number of bandits and from which acts of violence, murder and intimidation were being organized and perpetrated freely and with impunity, was fully re-occupied by the troops on the 19th of the month. This was a successful, organized operation of considerable magnitude. On the same date, Acre was searched and over 100 Arabs detained for investigation. On the 25th and the 26th, a large military force combed a big area in the Safad-Nazareth-Acre triangle.
On the 29th a comprehensive search of Gaza was made, 300 suspects being removed for examination to Sarafand camp. Finally, on the last day of the month, a wide search operation, which lasted four days, was conducted by the troops in Jaffa, 60 "wanted" men being detained in custody out of a large number of Arabs who were arrested for investigation.
Elsewhere throughout the country there were constant military and police activities, and at least 282 armed men were killed and wounded.
Gang action, however, persisted. On the 1st of the month a British police inspector was fatally wounded at Ramallah by a band which was later engaged and suffered some 50 casualties. On the 2nd there occurred a general raid on the Jewish quarter of Tiberias. It was systematically organized and savagely executed. Of the 19 Jews killed, including women and children, all save four were stabbed to death. That night and the following day the troops engaged the raiding gangs. They inflicted at least 50 casualties, including one notorious brigand leader, in three encounters, two north of Tiberias and the third near Safad.
Three days later on the 6th, the police, troops and aircraft engaged another large band near Tarshiha in Galilee inflicting some fifty casualties; and on the 10th, a gang which had attacked a Jewish settlement near Beisan was dispersed into Trans-Jordan with a loss of 11 killed, including a well-known local leader.
On the 20th, the army engaged and dispersed a gang near Tiberias, killing five; on the 21st another gang which had ambushed a military convoy near Nablus was attacked and lost 19 killed; on the 22nd, aircraft located and engaged a band north-west of Jerusalem and inflicted some 10 casualties; and on the 29th, near Megiddo a surprise attack by the troops resulted in the capture of the president and five members of a so-called "court".
Meantime, however, terrorism continued without intermission throughout the country. The worst outrages were in Jaffa where between the 3rd and the 8th there were three Jewish and three Arab casualties including two Arab constables. Similar excesses, the victims of which were all Arabs, occurred in Acre, near Haifa, in Tulkarm, near Gaza, and in Jerusalem; and on the 9th, the residence of the Assistant District Commissioner in Ramleh was broken into and robbed. Also his car was sniped as he was returning home. Simultaneously acts of sabotage and arson and the sniping of Jewish settlements persisted and in Haifa a large number of shops in the centre of the town were wilfully set on fire and damaged. In the Yebna district, south of Jaffa, considerable sabotage was done to both Arab and Jewish orange groves. On the 13th, a cigarette factory near Jaffa was destroyed by arson. Also on the 13th, a well-known Arab lawyer and municipal councillor of Jerusalem was murdered in the hills west of Ramallah whither he had been lured by an invitation from the gang leader of that area.
Similar outrages continued throughout the second half of the month. In Jaffa there was a series of murders involving Arabs and Jews and including Arab and Jewish members of the Police force and a well-known Jewish mukhtar; and Jewish transport was also freely sniped in the outskirts of the town, involving several casualties among passengers. Twice, however, the troops were in time to intervene and two rioters were killed, four wounded and five captured. Near Jerusalem a Jewish engineer was shot dead in his office and on Lake Huleh in the north two Jewish constables were killed and six wounded by snipers shooting from across the Syrian border. In Haifa an Arab detective constable was murdered and the Arab kawass of the District Commissioner was shot and wounded and his nephew killed by unknown assassins. In Gaza, armed Arabs penetrated the Government hospital and killed a woman. In Nazareth an Arab was shot dead. In Hebron an Arab constable was killed. In a Jerusalem suburb a Jewish milk vendor was attacked with an axe and fatally wounded, but of his two aggressors one was killed by the police and the other captured. On the 27th, the Jewish mayor of Tiberias was shot and fatally wounded in the middle of the town in broad daylight, and on the 30th armed men attacked a bank at Hebron and decamped with about P.500. A Jew was stoned to death in the Manshiya quarter of Jaffa on the same day.
As the result of the military search operations in Jaffa from 31st October to 3rd November, there was an improvement in the towns, although there, as elsewhere in Palestine, there was a three days' strike of all Arab shops following the issue of the military order restricting motor traffic on the roads except under permit (see Policy).
Meantime, during the first nine days of the month the troops continued intensive search activities in the districts. They detained a large number of Arabs for investigation and captured a quantity of arms and ammunition. There were also some minor clashes between gangs and the army in the course of which 25 of the former were killed, including a well-known leader in the Samaria district, and four wounded.
Isolated acts of violence persisted in Jaffa and its neighbourhood; near Acre; in Haifa; near Lydda; and in Gaza; and attacks on Jewish transport continued. In Haifa, the Levan bonded warehouse was burnt down and the post office was raided, the robbery yielding over £P1,500.
During the remainder of the month the troops maintained their pressure on the gangs by constant searches of areas and villages throughout the country. Further large quantities of arms and ammunition were captured; a considerable number of suspects were detained for identification and investigation; and, acting on information the supply of which began slowly to increase, the troops and the police organized a series of successful raids. In surprise encounters with bands over 100 casualties were inflicted by Government forces, including the killing of three "wanted" leaders. On the 13th, a combined force of soldiers and police carried out a search of Jericho. A total of 554 male inhabitants were checked, of which number 11 were deported to Trans-Jordan and 28 placed in detention under the Defence Regulations. In addition, two surprise searches were made in Jaffa on the 19th and the 20th and on the 21st a strong military post was established in Beersheba. On the 25th and the 26th a wide military sweep was made in the hill country south and south-west of Jerusalem with the object of ridding the area of gangs who had been successfully concentrating on the sabotage of the Jerusalem-Lydda railway. Finally, a search operation was conducted by the troops in and around Nazareth on the 14th, during which 40 persons were detained. This local "cleaning-up" operation had a good effect and during the month the Galilee District was, on the whole, quiet.
In spite of these activities, however, terrorism continued in the towns and sabotage throughout the country. Jaffa and the immediately surrounding country in particular was the scene of repeated outrage. The casualties included Arabs and Jews, and on the 18th two prominent members of the Defence Party were murdered in Lydda. (See Arab Affairs, paragraph 43--Fakhri Eff. Nashashibi's memorandum to the High Commissioner.) In the rest of the country acts of violence continued to occur though less frequently than in the Jaffa sub-district, and outrages were reported from Haifa where between the 12th and the end of the month six Arab and fourteen Jewish casualties occurred; from Jerusalem where one of the victims was another adherent of the Nashashibi Defence Party; from Nablus, where on one occasion the law courts were raided by armed men and where another prominent member of the Defence Party was murdered in the market; and from near Tulkarm.
During the month, the activities of the bands tended to decline but terrorism in towns and villages continued and road transport was still being attacked. At the end of the month it was clear that, although Government had definitely gained the upper hand in the field, the mainly police problem of terrorism in the towns was still a grave menace.
The activities of the troops concentrated on wide searches throughout the month. In two cases so-called "courts" were captured; large hauls were made of arms and ammunition; and there was a relentless rounding up of undesirable characters in all parts of the country. It was estimated that over one-third of the villages in Palestine had been visited during 1938 and searched by the army and the police.
Apart from these search operations, there were several major encounters with armed gangs on whom the troops inflicted heavy casualties. On the 1st of the month, near Hebron, the gangsters suffered 27 casualties; the following day, near Beisan, 15 Arabs of a gang, which had murdered three Jewish settlers, were killed and five captured; on the 18th, south of Hebron, 30 bandits were killed and 15 captured and a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition was seized; finally, on the 19th, 10 more were killed in an encounter near Tiberias.
Meanwhile there was no cessation of acts of violence. Attacks on road transport persisted and produced several casualties; and, particularly in the towns, murders of and murderous attacks on individuals were frequent. In Haifa they were sporadic throughout the month and in Jerusalem during the period from the 23rd to the 31st there were six Jewish and one Arab casualties. There was also a series of attacks on the persons and property of the Nashashibi (Defence Party) family following an Arab gathering organized on the 18th by Fakhri Eff. Nashashibi south of Hebron in support of his memorandum to the High Commissioner (see Arab Affairs).
In Jerusalem two well-known sheikhs were shot and killed. One of them had previously survived three attempts on his life. Other outrages were reported from Beisan; from Bethlehem where a Jewish warder of the lunatic asylum was shot dead by armed raiders; from the Plain of Sharon and from Affule and Petah Tikvah where casualties occurred from attacks on road transport; from Nazareth where a Jewish doctor was wounded and an Arab notable who had been a member of the General Agricultural Council was shot dead; and from Jericho where a member of a well-known Arab family was murdered.
On the 26th, Mr. Le Bouvier, the British area manager of the Ottoman bank, was kidnapped by armed Arabs on his way back from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. He returned unharmed after two days in the custody of the gang. On the last day of the year a motor convoy escorting Sir Charles Tegart and officers of the army and the police was held up by ambush in the hilly ravines north of Ramallah on the Jerusalem-Nablus road. Mr. G. B. Sanderson, staff officer to the Inspector General of Police, was instantly killed when the convoy was fired upon, but the rest of the party succeeded in escaping unharmed.
13. The total casualties during 1938 resulting from terrorist and gang activities were:--
British civilians ............................
Jewish civilians .............................
Jewish police (regular) ......................
Jewish police (supernumerary) ................
Arab civilians ...............................
Arab police (regular) ........................
Arab police (supernumerary and ghaffirs)......
No accurate figure can be given of the number of casualties suffered by members of armed bands, but a conservative estimate by the military authorities is that about 1,000 were killed by Government forces during 1938, while about the same number were wounded. It is estimated that the actual casualties inflicted were considerably higher, because on practically all occasions every effort was made by Arab bands to remove and conceal casualties.
14. Reference is made in the following section of this Report (Policy) to:--
) The appointment of the Palestine Partition Commission; its visit to Palestine; and the issue on the 9th November of its Report and of the accompanying Statement by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.
(b) The visit to Palestine in August of the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
(c) The promulgation on the 18th October of Regulations made by the High Commissioner under Articles 6 and 10 of the Palestine (Defence) Order-in-Council, 1937, by which powers were given to the General Officer Commanding the British Troops in Palestine and Trans-Jordan to appoint, with the consent of the High Commissioner, military commanders in various districts in the country who would assume all the powers and duties hitherto vested in the District Commissioners by the Defence Regulations.
In addition, the following further measures were taken relating to public security:--
(1) On 1st September, a curfew from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. was imposed on roads in the rural areas of the greater part of Palestine.
(2) On 23rd November, a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. was imposed on all Palestine with the exception of municipal and built-up areas.
(3) On 12th October, a system of voluntary identity cards for male persons over 16 years of age was instituted.
(4) On 1st November, an Order was issued under the Emergency Regulations prohibiting any male person from travelling by motor car or by train in the rural areas in Palestine without a pass issued by a Military Commander.
15. For the purpose of close co-operation between the Army and the Police, the police force was placed under the operational control of the General Officer Commanding on the 12th September, 1938.
29. On the 4th January, 1938, a Command Paper regarding policy in Palestine was issued by His Majesty's Government simultaneously in London and Jerusalem. It contained the text of a despatch dated the 23rd December, 1937, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the High Commissioner for Palestine announcing the decision of His Majesty's Government to send to Palestine a commission, later known as the Palestine Partition Commission, and setting out its terms of reference. The text of the Command Paper is attached to this section as Appendix "A".
Later, appointments were made to the Commission as follows:--
Sir John Woodhead, K.C.S.I., C.I.E.--
Sir Alison Russell, K.C. }
Mr. A. P. Waterfield, C.B. }
Mr. T. Reid, C.M.G. }
Mr. S. E. V. Luke--
The Commissioners reached Jerusalem on the 27th April, and during their stay in Palestine, which ended on the 3rd August, they held 55 sessions, two of which were in public, toured the country extensively and visited Trans-Jordan where nine days were spent. No Arab witnesses came forward to give evidence.
Their Report, a summary of which is attached to this section (Appendix "B"), was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 9th November, and was published simultaneously in London and Jerusalem together with a statement on Palestine by His Majesty's Government (Appendix "C").
30. The Report and the Statements (Appendices "B" and "C") were debated in both Houses of Parliament later in November. The text of the opening speech in the debate by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the House of Commons is appended (Appendix "D").
31. The Secretary of State for the Colonies paid a visit to Jerusalem on the 6th and 7th August.
32. Two important regulations made by the High Commissioner under the Palestine (Defence) Order in Council, 1937, were promulgated in October.
The first (Control of Police), which was made on the 17th October under Article 6 of the Order in Council, gave effect to the decision reached in September (see Public Security paragraph 15) whereby the Palestine Police Force was made subject to the general or specific direction and control of the General Officer Commanding the British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan (Appendix "E").
The second regulation (Military Commanders), which was made on the 18th October, empowered the General Officer Commanding to appoint, with the consent of the High Commissioner, Military Commanders in the various districts who would assume all the powers and duties hitherto vested in the respective District Commissioners by the Defence Regulations (Appendix "F"). The District Commissioners themselves became the political advisers of the Military Commanders.
On the same day, the 18th October, a Military Commander of the Jerusalem District was appointed by the General Officer Commanding; and on the 19th October, four similar military appointments were made affecting the Samaria, the Haifa and Galilee and the Southern Districts and the Jordan Valley within the boundaries of Palestine.
33. From the beginning of August, 1937, Jewish immigration into Palestine was conducted according to the policy stated in a Command Paper presented to Parliament by His Majesty's Government in July, 1937 (vide Appendix "B" on page 41 of the Annual Report for 1937), whereby as an interim measure a total Jewish immigration in all categories of 8,000 persons was permitted for the eight months' period from August, 1937, to March, 1938, provided that the economic absorptive capacity of the country was not exceeded.
34. The policy of His Majesty's Government from April, 1938, was embodied in a despatch No. 248 of the 10th March, 1938, addressed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the High Commissioner, the text of which is reproduced in full in Appendix "G".
35. In accordance with this policy, the High Commissioner authorised the admission of the following aggregate numbers of immigrants (Jewish and non-Jewish) in the several categories for the six monthly periods commencing the 1st April, 1938, and the 1st October, 1938, respectively:--
Category as defined in
Rule 4 (1) of the
1st April, 1938.
1st October, 1938
(Dependants other than wives
and minor children) ...
*600 of these certificates were subsequently converted into certificates in Category D.
**Later 30 of the certificates in Category A (i) were converted into certificates in Category B (ii) (persons of religious occupation).
36. Jewish immigrants to the number of 12,868 were registered during the year. Of these, 1,753 were capitalist immigrants whose dependants numbered 1,722, 2,537 were students whose maintenance in an approved educational institution is assured, 2,573 were persons coming to employment whose dependants numbered 1,662, and 2,565 were dependants of residents of Palestine.
37. The Palestine Government has continued to take measures to check illegal immigration through the agency of His Majesty's Consular Officers abroad, by control arrangements at the ports and frontiers and by the employment of special preventive forces by land and sea.
Illicit immigration through the northern frontier is being more effectively controlled as the result of the construction of the frontier fence and frontier road and the employment of a special force of police in this area.
The improvement of the existing control of illicit immigration by sea by the establishment of an organized coast guard service was under consideration at the end of the year.
38. Seven hundred and fifty-two persons, including 103 Jews who entered Palestine surreptitiously during 1935, were later detected, sentenced to imprisonment and recommended for deportation. Seven hundred and thirty-three deportations were carried out during the year, comprising 30 Jews and 703 other persons.
Seven Jewish and twelve other travellers were deported for overstaying their period of permitted stay in the country. In addition, 1,111 persons were summarily deported to Syria and Egypt.
Towards the close of the year illicit immigration of Jews from countries of Central and Eastern Europe appeared to be on the increase, doubtless as a result of the further deterioration in the political, social and economic situation of Jews in those countries.
39. Germany (including Austria) has displaced Poland as the principal country of Jewish immigration into Palestine. The proportion of Jewish immigrants from Germany rose to 52 per cent. of the total Jewish immigration in 1938. Poland furnished 25 per cent. of the total number of Jewish immigrants. There was also a noticeable increase in the proportion of Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia.
40. Apart from the major issues dealt with in the Policy section there were few developments of note in Arab affairs in Palestine during 1938. This was mainly due to the absence from the country of the majority of the political leaders, some of whom had been deported in October, 1937, while orders prohibiting the re-entry of others into Palestine were maintained throughout the year. In addition, as the result of local terrorism many others, the majority of whom belonged to or were in sympathy with the National Defence Party (see the Annual Report for 1937, paragraph 63), left the country in the interest of their personal safety.
41. In the second week of October a congress which assembled under the name of "The World Parliamentary Congress of Arab and Moslem Countries for the Defence of Palestine", held its sessions in Cairo. It passed a series of resolutions against the Balfour Declaration and Jewish immigration into Palestine and also elected a permanent committee, three of whose members had been members of the former Arab Higher Committee (see the Annual Report for 1937, paragraphs 50 and 51).
42. Immediately afterwards -- also in Cairo -- an Arab Women's congress was held in support of the Palestine Arab cause.
43. In November, after the publication of the Report of the Woodhead Commission and the statement of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom (see "Policy"), Fakhri eff. el Nashashibi, a near relation of Ragheb Bey el Nashashibi, the leader of the National Defence Party, submitted a memorandum to the High Commissioner in the course of which, claiming to speak on behalf of the "75 per cent. of the interests of the country" and "much more than half of the Arabs of the country", he condemned terrorist methods.
44. In December an order was issued for the release from the Seychelles of the five Arab leaders who were deported from Palestine in October, 1937 (see the Annual Report for 1937, pages 20 and 21, paragraphs 50 and 51). This decision was made public in London and Palestine on the 7th December in the following terms:--
"On 23rd November the Secretary of State for the Colonies informed the House of Commons that invitations to attend the proposed discussions in London regarding Palestine had been sent to the Governments of Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Trans-Jordan and to the Jewish Agency. Acceptances of these invitations have now been received by His Majesty's Government, and the King of the Yemen has also been invited to send a delegation to attend. His reply is shortly expected.
"Simultaneously in order to facilitate the nomination of the Arab delegates from Palestine itself, His Majesty's Government have decided that full facilities to attend the discussions should be available to the Arabs selected to proceed to London to represent Palestine and that these facilities shall apply equally to those Arabs who are at present deported or excluded from Palestine. In pursuance of this decision and after consultation with the High Commissioner for Palestine His Majesty's Government have ordered the release of those Arabs who are now detained in the Seychelles. Effect will be given to this Order as soon as transport can be arranged from Mahée.
"The release of these persons is final.
"Should their services be required at the discussions in London, they will be available for selection as the representatives of the Arabs of Palestine and will enjoy full liberty of movement subject only to the stipulation that they will not be allowed to return to Palestine where under the present circumstances their admission is regarded as undesirable".
45. Up to the end of 1938 the representatives of the Arabs of Palestine to attend the proposed discussions in London had not been finally selected.
46. The Commission referred to in paragraphs 52-3 on pages 21-2 of the Report for 1937 continued to control the finances of Moslem Awqaf in Palestine. The method of exercising that control has, however, been modified as it was found that the Supreme Moslem Sharia Council and Awqaf officials were prepared to co-operate with the Commission. A
was agreed upon between the Commission and the Supreme Moslem Sharia Council under which the Council was permitted to resume a considerable degree of control over Moslem Awqaf, subject to the reservation to the Commission of certain specific powers necessary for the proper control of the financial affairs thereof.
SUPREME MOSLEM COUNCIL.
47. During 1938 the Supreme Moslem Council and the Awqaf Administration maintained the essential wakf services in so far as funds and the disturbed state of the country permitted.
The Dome of the Rock.
Some work was carried out on the restoration of the marble panels on the exterior of the Dome of the Rock. Certain temporary measures designed to prevent the penetration of rain into the walls were also taken in order to preserve the structure until proper restoration of the whole of the exterior can be carried out on the basis of a scheme which is being prepared by the experts from Egypt who are advising the Supreme Moslem Council on the conservation of Islamic monuments in Palestine.
Repairs to Al Aqsa Mosque.
In the Annual Report for 1937 (page 27), detailed reference was made to the dangerous faults observed in the structure of the Mosque of Al Aqsa. Early in 1938 a further examination revealed that the position was serious. The Supreme Moslem Council therefore sought the advice of Mr. W. Harvey, a distinguished English engineer who had been summoned to Palestine to report on the condition of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They also secured the assistance of Egyptian Government engineers who were specialists in the conservation of mosques and Islamic monuments in Egypt, and under their direction the work of shoring up the eastern portion of the Mosque was undertaken. Later in 1938 this work was inspected by an experienced Egyptian engineer who reported that it removed any immediate danger to the eastern portion of the building. He advised, however, that the restoration of the central portion of the Mosque should be undertaken without delay. This has been put in hand.
The Haram es Sherif.
A number of minor urgent repairs were executed on various other buildings in the precincts of the Haram es Sherif at Jerusalem.
At Hebron the Great Mosque (Haram el Ibrahim) was examined by the Egyptian engineers who are drawing up a scheme for enlarging the Haram as the available space is often insufficient to accommodate the worshippers who attend on major religious festivals. Funds, however, are not at present available for the execution of that scheme as priority must be given to making the Mosque of Al Aqsa safe.
Certain minor works have, however, been carried out in the Haram el Ibrahimi at Hebron, e.g., the lead covering on the roof has been repaired to stop the infiltration of rain water into the arches and walls which, if it had continued, might have caused serious damage to the structure itself. A sum of £P.500 has also been provided for a number of urgent minor repairs which have been put in hand.
At Nablus work continued, albeit slowly, owing to lack of funds, on the new "El Nasr" Mosque.
At Jaffa a sum of £P.2,000 was provided for the installation of proper sanitation and drains in two of the principal mosques.
48. During the first eight months of 1938 the interest of the Jewish community was focused on the investigations of the Palestine Partition Commission, before whom evidence was given by the Jewish Agency and other Jewish bodies including representatives of the Revisionist (New Zionist) Organisation and the Agudat Israel.
Official Zionist opinion on the question of partition, as well as that of the Jewish public generally, was sharply divided and did not follow normal party lines. The abandonment of the partition proposal by His Majesty's Government, while a disappointment to certain sections of Jewish opinion, served to unite Zionist parties on the question of policy in Palestine.
49. The increased severities exercised against the Jews in Germany aroused considerable feeling amongst Palestine Jewry and the proceedings of the Evian Conference for dealing with the international refugee problem were followed locally with keen interest. Dr. Ruppin, a member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, attended the Evian Conference. The local Jewish community contributed generously to funds for the settlement of German Jews in Palestine.
50. The strained relations between the official Zionist bodies and the Revisionist (New Zionist) Organisation showed no improvement during the year. Collections on behalf of the Redemption Fund (Kofer Hayishuv), which was instituted under the auspices of the Vaad Leumi to provide funds to assist in the protection of Jewish outlying settlements, were actively opposed by the Revisionists, on the grounds that members of their organization had not been allowed to co-operate in the measures taken for the defence of Jewish settlements. These disputes resulted in a few breaches of the peace.
51. Negotiations were still in progress at the end of the year for the amalgamation of the committee of the local Jewish community of Tel Aviv established under the Religious Communities (Organization) Ordinance with the Municipal Council of Tel Aviv. Amalgamation of the corresponding bodies was completed in the case of the newly established Municipal Council of Petah Tiqva.
New local councils were elected in Rishon le Tsiyon, Hertseliya, Ramat Gan and Raanana.
Local town planning commissions were established in the Jewish settlements of Ramat Gan and Bnei Beraq.
52. The establishment of a temporary landing ground for aeroplanes was authorized in September on Government land north of the River Auja, adjoining Tel Aviv. A passenger and mail service plying daily between Tel Aviv and Haifa and Beirut was inaugurated by Palestine Airways.
53. Negotiations were continued for combining all Jewish citrus co-operatives under a single organization, with a view to centralizing arrangements for the disposal of the citrus crop and eliminating uncontrolled exports of citrus fruits but no agreement was reached for the 1938-9 citrus season. The negotiations were still in progress at the end of the year.
54. The Jewish Agency carried out a census of Jewish wholesale and retail distribution trades. 7,103 retail and 423 wholesales stores were enumerated, representing a capital investment of £P.7,780,000 and affording employment to 19,910 persons.
55. Since the opening of Tel Aviv Lighter Harbour, increased interest has been shown by the Jewish public in the possibility of maritime developments, and a school of navigation and marine engineering was opened at the Hebrew Technical Institute at Haifa at which 41 students are attending.
A local Jewish shipping company which is carrying out coastal trade in the eastern Mediterranean in two small cargo vessels manned by Jewish crews is expanding its activities.
59. The revised estimate of revenue for the financial year 1st April, 1938, to 31st March, 1939, excluding grants by His Majesty's Government, is £P.4,123,000 compared with the original estimate of £P.4,343,435, a decrease of £P.220,435. The principal decreases occur under the heads for Customs (£P.90,000), Licences and Taxes (£P.145,000), and Fees, etc. (£P.26,000). There were increases, however, under the heads for Posts and Telegraphs (£P.24,000) and Interest (£P.12,000). The revised estimate of grants by His Majesty's Government is £P,1,811,980. These grants comprise £P.200,000 for the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force, £P.18,000 for Hydrographic Survey, £P.13,980 from the Colonial Development Fund and £P.1,580,000 in respect of the reimbursement of emergency expenditure on security. The revised expenditure is estimated at £P.5,765,000 as compared with the original estimate of £P.5,445,760, an increase of £P.319,240 due to the increased expenditure on Police and Prisons service (£P.361,000), the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force including extraordinary works (£P.45,000) and Posts and Telegraphs including extraordinary (£P.9,000). Expenditure for compensation for loss of life and injury caused an increase of ££P.56,000 on the vote for Miscellaneous, and there was an increase of £P.108,000 in the estimate of the deficit on the Railways, due partly to decreased traffic and partly to repairs of damage caused by sabotage. On the other hand there were decreases amounting to £P.259,000 on other heads.
The revised estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year ending the 31st March, 1939, therefore, show a surplus of £P.170,000; and it is anticipated that, even after accounting for the anticipated depreciation of investments at the 31st March, 1939, the general revenue balance will be slightly higher than at the 1st April, 1938, when it amounted to £P.2,400,838. It will be necessary, however, to provide in the Estimates for 1939-40 for considerable revotes of emergency expenditure on security measures which were approved during 1938-9, but were not completed in that year.