Skip directly to content

British colonial rule

Talbiyya Quarter, West Jerusalem

A general view of the Talbiyya quarter, West Jerusalem, early 1940s.

Surrendering Jerusalem

Jerusalem, 9 December 1917: British noncommissioned officers belonging to an advance party of the 219th Battalion, London Regiment, accepting the surrender of Jerusalem from Hussein Salim al-Husseini, mayor of Jerusalem (fourth right with cane).

The Citadel, Old City of Jerusalem

The Citadel, Old City of Jerusalem, 11 December 1917: General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander in chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force, on the occasion of the proclamation of martial law after his entry into the city.

Allenby's Proclamation

Allenby's proclamation: "...lest any of you should be alarmed .... "

On Strike

The Arab commercial center outside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, on strike during the Buraq (Wailing Wall) disturbances, 1929.

British Show of Force

British show of force, Jerusalem, August 1929.

Emergency Relief Committee

The Emergency Relief Committee (seen here in session at its headquarters in Jerusalem, 1929) was formed during the 1929 disturbances to aid afflicted Palestinian families.

Palestinian Women Outside High Commissioner's Jerusalem Residence

A delegation of Palestinian women outside the high commissioner’s residence in Jerusalem. The delegation protested the harshness of British measures against the Palestinians during the disturbances. The women wearing hats are Christian. Second left is Mrs.

Motorcade for Womens' Delegation

The motorcade of the women's delegation on its way to the high commissioner's residence.

The Shaw Commission of Inquiry: "disappointment ... and fear"

Members of the Shaw Commission of Inquiry, Jerusalem, October 1929. The Shaw Commission was sent by London to investigate the causes of the 1929 disturbances. Seated center is Sir Walter Shaw, chairman of the commission.

Mourning on Balfour Day (1)

Balfour Day, the Old City of Jerusalem, 2 November 1929. Palestinians and many Arabs commemorated the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (2 November 1917) with mourning, as indicated by the black flags.

Mourning on Balfour Day (2)

Balfour Day, the Old City of Jerusalem, 2 November 1929. Palestinians and many Arabs commemorated the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (2 November 1917) with mourning, as indicated by the black flags.

Funeral of Muhammad Ali

The funeral procession of Muhammad Ali, one of the foremost Indian Muslim religious leaders and scholars, escorted by Boy Scouts, Jerusalem, 23 January 1931.

Funeral of King Hussein of Hijaz

The funeral of King Hussein of Hijaz, Jerusalem, 4 June 1931.

A Palestinian conference, 1930

A Palestinian conference called on the eve of the departure of the Fourth Palestinian Delegation to London; Jerusalem, March 1930 (see 84). The First Delegation to London in 1921 was followed by two others in 1922.
Raghib al-Nashashibi, mayor of Jerusalem (see 196, 242, 352); and Alfred Roch, prominent Catholic businessman from Jaffa (see

Fourth Palestinian Delegation in London

Members of the Fourth Palestinian Delegation in London, April 1930. The women in the back row are Christian Palestinian secretaries accompanying the delegation. The three men in the same row are Palestinian correspondents in London for Arabic newspapers in Palestine.

The Rise of Political Activism

Young political activists from Nablus just released from prison (ca. 1930) call on their lawyer, Adil Zu'aiter (seated), to thank him for his efforts on their behalf.

Pan-Islamic Conference, 1931

The Pan-Islamic Conference, Jerusalem, December 1931.

Tunisian and Turkish delegates

Tunisian and Turkish delegates to the Pan-Islamic Conference with Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini (see 78). First left is the Tunisian scholar Abd al-Aziz al-Tha'alibi; the figure in the center is the Turkish philosopher Rida Tawfiq.

Istiqlal (Independence) Party

Members of the Istiqlal (Independence) Pan-Arab Party, founded in 1932.

King Faisal I of Iraq Funeral

The funeral cortege of King Faisal I of Iraq passing through Haifa, 1933. The king had died on a visit to Europe, and his body was en route to Iraq.

Aftermath outside of the New Gate

The aftermath of a Palestinian demonstration protesting Zionist mass immigration, New Gate, Jerusalem, 1933.

Intimidation by Air

Aerial show of force by the British over the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, 1933.

British Riot Police

British riot police, mounted and on foot, block the path of a demonstration protesting Zionist mass immigration, Jaffa, 27 October 1933.

Demonstration in Jaffa's Central Square

British mounted police charge into a crowd of demonstrators, Central Square, Jaffa, 27 October 1933.

Police Brutality

The bearded profile of a fallen man in the upper center of the photograph is that of the venerable Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini (see 78), who had been leading the demonstration shown above (see 109-

Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini's Funeral

The funeral of Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini, Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, 27 March 1934. Al-Husseini died at the age of eighty-one. The trauma he had suffered at the hands of the British five months earlier in Jaffa (see 111) hastened his death.

Silwan

The village and valley of Silwan, just east of the walls of Jerusalem, looking south. In the distance note Government House, the residence of the British high commissioner, on the so-called Hill of Evil Counsel!

Tobacco

Tobacco: the area under tobacco cultivation was restricted by the Mandatory government to avoid overproduction. Virtually all the land under tobacco cultivation was Palestinian-owned.

The Arab Awakening

241a-241p: A melange of sixteen books by Palestinians, published before 1946.

The Palestine Arab Case

241a-241p: A melange of sixteen books by Palestinians, published before 1946.

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 ...

Zionist Colonies Map (1)

Zionist colonies in Palestine at the beginning of the British Mandate, 1920.

Chronology, 1919-1936

1919

January: Paris Peace Conference decides conquered Arab provinces will not be restored to Ottoman rule.

Arrival of Sir Herbert Samuel

Jaffa, June 1920: Sir Herbert Samuel (in white peaked helmet), a British Zionist politician appointed as first high commissioner, about to set foot on Palestinian soil to inaugurate the British civilian administration.

Search of a Muslim Dignitary

Jerusalem, April 1920. Indian troopers in the British army evenhandedly search a Muslim dignitary.

Search of a Christian Priest

Jerusalem, April 1920. Indian troopers in the British army evenhandedly search a Christian priest.

Third Palestinian National Congress

The Third Palestinian National Congress, Haifa, 14 December 1920. Delegates to the congress represented the main cities and districts of Palestine.
Third right, last row, is the future Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini (see 88, 100, 202,

Fourth Palestinian National Congress

The Fourth Palestinian National Congress, Jerusalem, 25 May 1921. (See 87, 89).

First Palestinian Delegation to UK

The First Palestinian Delegation to the United Kingdom in working session in London, 1921. Two of the six-man delegation (first and fourth left) were Christian Palestinians.

First Delegation in Geneva

The First Delegation in Geneva to attend the Syrian- Palestinian Conference, timed to coincide with the League of Nations' meeting to discuss the proposed Mandatory system.

Memorandum to Winston Churchill (1)

" ... the people of Palestine will not be satisfied with promises that some control of their own destinies will be given to them in the future, . . . The Palestine people will never admit the right of any outside organization to dispossess them of their country, ...

Memorandum to Winston Churchill (2)

" ... the people of Palestine will not be satisfied with promises that some control of their own destinies will be given to them in the future, . . . The Palestine people will never admit the right of any outside organization to dispossess them of their country, ...

Sixth Palestinian National Congress, Jaffa

The Sixth Palestinian National Congress, Jaffa, October 1925 (see 68, 82-83, 87).

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.

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

Palestinian Volunteers Against the Axis

In spite of their bitterness at the brutality of the British suppression of their rebellion, about nine thousand Palestinians volunteered during World War II for service in the British forces against the Axis powers. Some of these volunteers are seen here on parade in Nablus in May 1941.

Zionist Strategic Colonization (1)

About three hundred Zionist rural colonies, collective and noncollective, were established between 1882 and 1948 in Palestine. Throughout this period, however, the vast majority of the Jewish population (75 percent in 1948) continued to live in the three main cities: Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv.

Zionist Strategic Colonization (2)

About three hundred Zionist rural colonies, collective and noncollective, were established between 1882 and 1948 in Palestine. Throughout this period, however, the vast majority of the Jewish population (75 percent in 1948) continued to live in the three main cities: Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv.

Zionist Strategic Colonization (3)

About three hundred Zionist rural colonies, collective and noncollective, were established between 1882 and 1948 in Palestine. Throughout this period, however, the vast majority of the Jewish population (75 percent in 1948) continued to live in the three main cities: Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv.

Illegal Immigration (1)

At the end of World War II, the Zionist leadership decided to undermine the British regime in Palestine as a prelude to the establishment of a Jewish stat

Illegal Immigration (2)

At the end of World War II, the Zionist leadership decided to undermine the British regime in Palestine as a prelude to the establishment of a Jewish state.

The King David Hotel (1)

Another tactic chosen by Zionist leaders was terrorism.

The King David Hotel (2)

Another tactic chosen by Zionist leaders was terrorism.

Arms Dumps in the Colonies (1)

Many of the Zionist colonies (see 296, 297, 298) had arms dumps hidden among their civilian population and beneath ostensibly civili

Arms Dumps in the Colonies (2)

Many of the Zionist colonies (see 296, 297, 298) had arms dumps hidden among their civilian population and beneath ostensibly civili

Haifa Railroad Station

The railroad station at Haifa blown up by Zionist terrorists, fall 1946.

Hostage Taking by the Irgun

Hostage taking and sometimes the murder of hostages were two terrorist practices introduced by the Irgun under Menachem Begin. This photograph shows the bodies of two British army sergeants, Clifford Martin (left) and Mervyn Paice.

The Haganah Starts its Offensive

The farmhouse of the Abu Laban family, prosperous Palestinian orange growers, near Petah Tikva.

Jerusalem's Arab Fair

The Arab Fair when it was first held in Jerusalem, 1933.

Reverend Salih Saba and family

Reverend Salih Saba and family, Jerusalem, ca. 1922. Fuad Saba (standing first left) was the first Palestinian licensed auditor to practice under the British Mandate. By 1948 the F. Saba Company had branches in Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt.

Hashim al-Jayyusi

Hashim al-Jayyusi (1901-81), mayor of Tulkarm from 1939 to 1948 (see 376). Subsequently, he served six times as Jordanian minister of finance and was acting prime minister and deputy speaker of the Senate in Jordan.

Raghib al-Nashashibi

Raghib al-Nashashibi (see 100, 196, 242), an outstanding public figure under the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, and the Jordanian administration.

Transjordanian Frontier Force

Troopers of the TJFF (Transjordanian Frontier Force), recruited mostly from among Palestinians, prepare to leave for London to attend victory celebrations at the end of World War II.

Introduction: Civil War and the Destruction of the Palestinian Community: November 1947 - May 1948

THE Palestine problem was now rapidly approaching its catastrophic climax. On 29 November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, and a special international regime (corpus separatum) for Jerusalem and its environs; an economic union would be set up between the Jewish and Palestinian states. The Palestinians and other Arabs were as stunned as the Zionists and their sympathizers were jubilant. The very reactions of each side belied the claim that partition was a compromise solution.

The British Entrapped

Barbed wire and other barriers put up by the British around their administrative compound (left) in central Jerusalem, for protection against acts of terrorism by Zionist groups, fall 1947.

The Importation of a Military Industry

As early as 1945, David Ben-Gurion (then chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive) arranged on a visit to the United States for the purchase of entire military plants, which were being sold ostensibly as scrap at the end of the war.

UN Partition Plan Facilitates Civil War

The UN partition recommendation (a resolution by the UN General Assembly is not binding) precipitated a series of Jewish-Palestinian clashes. These clashes escalated into total civil war during the remaining months of the British Mandate, which ended on 15 May 1948.

Zionist Terrorism

A bomb thrown from a passing taxi at a bus in the Palestinian residential quarter outside Herod's Gate, Jerusalem, on 29 December 1947 killed seventeen Palestinian civilians.

Semiramis in Ruins

Ruins of the Semiramis Hotel, located in the Palestinian residential quarter of Bak'a in West Jerusalem.

Take Cover!

Palestinian civilians (and British constables) taking cover from sniper fire, Jerusalem, February 1948.

Count Bernadotte

On 13 May 1948 Count Folke Bernadotte, member of the Swedish royal family and International Red Cross representative in Europe during the later stages of World War II, was appointed by the United Nations as a mediator to seek a settlement of the Palestine conflict.

Abandoning Ship

General Sir Alan Cunningham, British high commissioner, inspecting a guard of honor as he left his official residence in Jerusalem for the last time, 14 May 1948. The British Mandate for Palestine came to its ignominious end on 15 May 1948.