Arab uprising

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The Arab uprising from April 1936 to 1939 in the British Palestine mandate was a series of acts of violence by Arab residents against Jews and the British mandate. The leader of the uprising was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini , who initiated a general strike . The uprising was put down by British troops.


As early as 1921 and 1929, there had been violent riots on the part of the Arabs in the Mandate Palestine, in particular the Hebron massacre (1929) . The reason for the riots was the Arab-Jewish conflict and the refusal of the British government to give the mandate area independence as an Arab state. The increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, especially in Nazi Germany, led to a wave of immigration of Jews. Between 1931 and 1939 the Jewish population of the Mandate area rose from 175,000 to 460,000. The 1936 uprising took on larger proportions than the previous ones. This is partly attributed to the raising of the educational standard and the better infrastructural networking of the country.


Palestinian Arab insurgents, 1936

The exact beginning of the revolt is controversial. In the first months of 1936 there was repeated violence on the part of the Arabs against British and Jewish institutions. On April 19, 1936, the violence in Jaffa reached its first peak. There, Arabs killed sixteen Jewish dock workers. The reason for the attacks was the rumor that Jews had murdered a woman and three Syrian workers. The British police intervened and shot six Arabs. In 1936, large parts of the old town of Jaffa were destroyed as part of "Operation Anchor", which was carried out by the British Mandate Government to combat terrorism.

Small groups of armed Arabs later attacked Jewish traffic convoys and passers-by across the country. Mohammed Amin al-Husseini tried to position himself at the head of the movement on April 25 by founding the Arab High Committee . The committee he chaired launched a general strike on May 15. Husseini stopped the general strike in October after 173 days, officially at the request of the Arab monarchs of Egypt , Transjordan and Iraq . A weighty reason for putting down the strike was the upcoming citrus harvest, which represented a main source of income for the urban notables. By October 1936, the revolt had killed 28 British, 80 Jews and around 200 Arabs. The British government tried to calm things down by setting up the Peel Commission .

In June 1937 the British Mandate Government imposed the death penalty for illicit gun possession, which was particularly common among non-Jewish Palestinians; Accordingly, the majority of the 112 hanged men in Akkon prison had been sentenced to death for illegally possessing weapons. However, when the Peel Commission announced in its final report on July 7 that the mandate area would be divided into a Jewish and an Arab part, Husseini renewed the revolt in September 1937. The planning of the counterinsurgency campaign was under the direction of Charles Tegart , a colonial officer which had proven itself in this field in British India . Around 25,000 additional police and military personnel were transferred to Palestine during the campaign. The reason for the change in policy was the assassination of the British governor of Galilee by Arab insurgents. There were again guerrilla-style attacks on Jewish and British targets, including many civilians. The Irgun Tzwa'i Le'umi Jewish paramilitaries responded with retaliatory bombings. The Hagana also carried out military operations in retaliation against Arab villages and neighborhoods that it suspected were a base of the Arab guerrillas.

In September and October 1937, the British leadership took energetic measures to put down the revolt. A border fence, partially mined, was erected to cut the rebels off from supplies from Lebanon . The British also armed around 3,000 Jews as auxiliary police (so-called Notrim ) as well as smaller units of loyal Arabs. In addition, the British built numerous fortified police stations to control the country's traffic routes. In Jaffa, one of the strongholds of the uprising, almost the entire old town was destroyed by British troops. In addition, the British banned the Arab High Committee and imprisoned 300 ruling class Palestinians, including Husseini, who was able to flee abroad.

In the spring of 1938 the rebellion reached its climax with around 15,000 armed insurgents, around 10% of them as full-time fighters. The maximum military success of the rebellion was to briefly occupy the old city of Jerusalem . In the summer of 1938, however, 2,000 British soldiers under General Archibald Wavell destroyed the core of the guerrillas in a regular battle near Jenin . The British authorities had previously succeeded in killing the nominal commander in chief of the uprising in Palestine, Abd-al-Rahman Al Haj Muhamad . The rebellion slowly came to a standstill as a result. Individual acts of terrorism and violence continued into 1939.


On the British side, the uprising against the backdrop of World War II led to concessions to the Arab side. These were set out in the form of an immigration restriction in the 1939 White Paper . The economic strength of the Palestinian Arabs was badly damaged; around 10% of the male population capable of weapons were either interned or fled the country. The Jewish side gained military expertise through the uprising through the establishment of the Jewish Settlement Police and the Special Night Squads .

On the Arab side, the uprising made the conflict international through its high publicity. In the Arab countries, the events in Palestine were followed closely and understood in the sense of pan-Arabism as a pan- Arab conflict. In Egypt, the uprising was supported by a campaign by numerous social actors. Leading this was the Muslim Brotherhood, who collected donations to support the uprising and called for a boycott of Jewish business people. The inability of the Egyptian government to even provide aid to the Palestinian Arabs undermined their legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Benny Morris: 1948. A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. 2008, pp. 12-14.
  2. a b c d e f Martin van Crefeld: The Sword and the Olive. A critical history of the Israeli Defense Force. Public Affairs, New York NY 2002, ISBN 1-58648-155-X , pp. 36-41.
  3. ^ The significance of "Operation Anchor" for the Cultural Heritage of Jaffa.
  4. ^ A b c d e f Benny Morris: 1948. A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. 2008, pp. 16-21.
  5. Gudrun Krämer, A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel , Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 292. ISBN 978-0-691-11897-0 .
  6. Tom Segev : Once upon a time there was a Palestine. Jews and Arabs before the founding of the state of Israel. 4th edition. Pantheon, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-570-55009-5 , pp. 455-465.
  7. Michael Oren: Six Days of War. June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Oxford University Press, New York NY 2002, ISBN 0-19-515174-7 , p. 3.
  8. ^ Brynjar Lia: The Society of Muslim Brothers in Egypt - The Rise of an Islamic Mass Movement 1928-1942. Reading, 1998, pp. 235-241.