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The Great Rebellion, 1936-1939

Introduction: The Great Rebellion 1936-1939

By early May 1936 the Palestinians were in open rebellion. National Committees, which would become the organizational base of the rebels, had been established in April in all the Palestinian towns and larger villages.

Chronology 1936-1939

1936

April 16: Two Palestinians living near Petah Tikva shot dead by Zionist assailants.

April 20-30: National Committees established in all Palestinian towns and large villages.

The Arab Higher Committee Members

The Arab Higher Committee, comprising representatives of all Palestinian parties, was formed on 25 April 1936. One of its first acts was to call for a general strike and civil disobedience "to continue ... until ...

Oath of Allegiance

Residents of Abu Ghosh, a village west of Jerusalem (see 118), taking the oath of allegiance to the Arab Higher Committee, April 1936.

"No Taxation Without Representation" - May 1936

Typical of political posters appearing at the beginning of the general strike.

After Nineteen Years (1)

243b and 243c are caricatures that appeared in the Jaffa daily Filastin in April 1936. The uniformed figure with plumed hat is General Sir Arthur Wauchope, the British high commissioner at the time.

After Nineteen Years (2)

243b and 243c are caricatures that appeared in the Jaffa daily Filastin in April 1936. The uniformed figure with plumed hat is General Sir Arthur Wauchope, the British high commissioner at the time.

Searches (1)

Steel-helmeted British troops search a Palestinian in Jaffa.

Searches (2)

Steel-helmeted British troops search a Palestinian in Jerusalem and look under a fez just in case!

Searches (3)

A South African police dog (246) comes to the aid of the British.  This photograph and details are taken from the Illustrated London News, June 1936.

Demonstrations

British riot police clash with Palestinian demonstrators and make front-page news in London; Central Square, Jaffa, 1936.

Killing Time

Inmates in a detention camp while away the time.

Detained

A Christian Orthodox priest is held alongside Muslim religious dignitaries in a detention camp. Cross-legged on the floor is Michel Mitri, the Christian Orthodox head of the Jaffa Labour Union, also detained.

Hanna Asfour

First left is Hanna Asfour, Greek Catholic lawyer and legal adviser to the Arab Labour Society in Haifa (see 194, 270). Traditional dress was worn by urban detainees as a gesture of defiance.

Revolt of the Civil Servants (1)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (2)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (3)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (4)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (5)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (6)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Revolt of the Civil Servants (7)

"Authority implies justice all round, and when justice is denied ....

Welcoming Guerillas

Villagers welcoming mounted guerrillas, summer 1936.

Sabotage

A train derailed by guerrillas, summer 1936.

Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini

Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini (center) with aides.

Abd al-Halim al-Julani

Second right is Abd al-Halim al-Julani, guerrilla commander for the Hebron district. The banner is the Palestinian national flag.

Hamad Zawata

Hamad Zawata, guerrilla commander for the Nablus district.

Palestine and Oil

The oil pipeline to Haifa from Iraq sabotaged by guerrillas, summer 1936. This was probably one of the earliest instances of the impingement of the Palestine problem on the flow of oil to the West.

Laying Siege to Jaffa's Old City

The British cordon off the Old City of Jaffa before the demolition starts.

Volunteers from Arab Countries

On 25 August 1936 Fawzi al-Qawukji (third right) infiltrated into Palestine at the head of some 150 volunteers from neighboring Arab countries. Lebanese by birth, Qawukji was something of a Garibaldi figure in Arab popular perception.

Qawukji Organizes Palestinian Guerillas

Qawukji organized the Palestinian guerrillas of central Palestine, and led them through several fierce engagements with British forces in which the latter used planes, tanks, and heavy artillery. Here he is seen taking the salute as a guerrilla column marches past, ca. September 1936.

The Peel Commission and Partition

The members of the Palestine Royal Commission arrived in Palestine in November 1936. Third left is Lord Peel, chairman of the commission.

British Reinforcements (1)

Royal Air Force armored cars (266) and an army base just outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (267).

British Reinforcements (2)

Royal Air Force armored cars (266) and an army base just outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (267).

Smashing the Palestinian Political Infrastructure

On 1 October 1937 the Arab Higher Committee (see 242) was dissolved. Four of its members, Dr.

Fuad Saba's Letter to his Children

A letter sent by Fuad Saba (see 344) to his children in Jerusalem.

Martial Law

On 11 November 1937 military courts were established for the trial of offenses including the carrying of arms, which was now made punishable by death. Between 1937 and 1939, the British executed by hanging 112 Palestinians under the new law.

Lewis

Note the sole light machine gun (Lewis) on the ground.

Abd aI-Rahim al-Haj Muhammad

One of the most prominent guerrilla leaders of the rebellion, Abd aI-Rahim al-Haj Muhammad (center foreground), who died in action against British troops on 28 March 1938.

Guerilla Stamps

A guerrilla stamp, 1938, showing the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock.

Solidarity

Collecting contributions for afflicted Palestinian families, Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem. Note the Hotel Fast on the left.

More British Reinforcements

Heavy British reinforcements were sent to fight the Palestinians in 1938-39. Some of the leading British officers of World War II held command in Palestine at this time, including Generals J. G. Dill and A. P. Wavell, then Brigadier B. L. Montgomery, and ''Bomber'' Harris.

Arming One Side and Disarming the Other

Fire practice under British supervision at the Jewish settlement of Ein Geb, 1938. The British authorities systematically disarmed the Palestinian population while building up Jewish military strength.

Special Night Squads

The SNS (Special Night Squads) composed of British and Jewish personnel, were organized by the British in 1938-39 to assault Palestinian villages on hit-and-run raids.

British Police Search Palestinians

British police and army patrols search Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem, ca. 1936.

Mass Arrests

Making collective arrests outside Bab al-Zahirah (Herod's Gate), Jerusalem, September 1938. The British held 816 Palestinians in detention camps in 1937, and 2,463 in 1938. In 1939 they detained 5,679 Palestinians out of a total Palestinian population of ca. one million.

Brutal British Tactics

A favorite British punitive measure was blowing up the houses of "suspects" and those of their relatives. Shown here are the ruins of the house of a "suspect" in Jenin, September 1938.

Laying Siege to Jerusalem's Arab College

Another favorite punitive measure was the harassment and occupation of Palestinian educational institutions by British troops.

Assault on the Old City

An advance detachment of British troops moving to the assault just before the recapture of the Old City.

Back in Control

Back in control, the British allow the inhabitants of the Old City to line up for water.

Party for Seychelles exiles

In December 1938 the Seychelles exiles (see 268 - 269) were released, but for several years they were not allowed to return to Palestine.

British Anxiety and the 1939 London Conference

The British government, fearful of the impact of its repressive Palestine policies on British interests throughout the Middle East as World War II approached, and impressed by the intensity of Palestinian resistance, called for a conference to be held in London in February 1939 to discuss the Palest

The London Conference and the White Paper of 1939

The London Conference, St. James's Palace, February 1939: a meeting between the British and Arab delegates.
On either side of the Palestinian delegation are the other Arab delegations. Facing the Palestinians are the British, with Sir Neville Chamberlain, prime minister, presiding.
After the London Conference, the British government issued a White Paper (statement of policy) in which it promised to protect Palestinian land rights in considerable areas of the country against Zionist land acquisition, and to solicit Palestinian "acquiescence" to Zionist mass immigration, but onl