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PALESTINE.



DISTURBANCES IN MAY, 1921.



Reports of the Commission of Inquiry



WITH



Correspondence Relating Thereto.



F resented to Parliament by Com7nand of His Majesty, October, 1921.




LONDON:
PUBLISHED BY HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.



To be purchased through any Bookseller or directly from

H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE at the following addresses:

Imperial Housk, Kinosway, London, W.C. 2, and 23, Abingdon Street, London, S.W.I:

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2 <, Forth Street, Edinburgh ;
or from BASON & SON, Ltd., 40 & 41, Lower Sackville Street, Dublin.



I



[Cmd. 1540.]



1921.
Price One Shilling Net,



N



LIST OF PAPERSi





Date.


Page.







1921.




1.


Terms of Reference


7th and 23rd May


3&4


2.


Interim Report by the Commission of Inquiry
on the Khedera raid on 6th May, 1921


1st July


5


3.


Report by Commission of Inquiry into the Jaffa
Riots


10th August ...


17'


4.


Despatch from the High Commissioner for
Palestine to the Secretary of State for the
Colonies.


25th August ...


61




Submits observations on certain passages
in the Reports of the Commission of
Inquiry.






5.


Despatch from the Secretary of State for the
Colonies to the High Commissioner for Palestine.
Notes and approves the measures which are
being taken for the improvement of
the Palestine Police Force ; considers
that the Reports of the Commission
of Inquiry are lucid and well reasoned,
and that they make clear the necessity
for revision of some of the rules for
police and military action in the
event of future similar disturbances.


21st September


64



C <X4yV^.^^-Xui/U



PALESTINE.

DISTURBANCES IN MAY, 1921.



Reports of the Commission of Inquiry with
Correspondence relating thereto.



No. 1



TERMS OF REFERENCE.



A.

I APPOINT His Honour Sir Thomas Haycraft, Chief Justice of Palestine,
Mr. H. C. Luke, Assistant Governor of Jerusalem, and Mr. Stubbs, of
the Legal Department, to be a Commission to inquire into the recent
disturbances in the town and neighbourhood of Jaffa, and to report
thereon >

And I appoint Sir Thomas Haycraft to be the Chairman, and Aref
Pasha Dejani El Daoudi, Elias Eff. Mushabbeck and Dr. Eliash to be
assessors to the Commission.

The Commission shall have all the powers specified in Article 2 of
the Commission of Inquiries Ordinance, 1921.

HERBERT SAMUEL,

High Commissioner for Palestine.

7th May, 1921.



(B C-82) Wt. 17098-761 1500/90 11/21 H & S, Ltd.





*



B.



I DIRECT the Commission of Inquiry, appointed by Order dated the
7th of May to inquire into and report upon the recent disturbances in
the town and neighbourhood of Jaffa, to extend their inquiries and
report further upon recent disturbances which have taken place in any
part of the District of Jaffa or elsewhere in Palestine.

HERBERT SAMUEL,

High Commissioner for Palestine.



23rd May, 1921.



No. 2.

Interim Report by the Commission of Inquiry
on the Khedera Raid, 6th May, 1921.



While the Commission was sitting at Jaffa taking evidence about the
Jaffa riots, the Chairman received an instruction from His Excellency
the High Commissioner, that it was desired to have an interim report
on the Khedera raid as soon as possible. The Commission accordingly
removed to Nablus on the 13th June, and sat during three days at
Khedera, and six days at Tulkeram. The three Assessors representing
the Moslem, Christian and Jewish Communities, accompanied it.

Khedera is a Jewish agricultural colony with its village situated on
a rising ground, isolated in a sandy but generally cultivated plain of
Philistia, about 2J miles from the sea, between Jaffa and Caesarea;
the village is well built with houses of European type and streets of
soft sand, the whole girdled and interspersed with eucalyptus trees.
It is a pleasant place, and the colonists give one the impression of being
of a sturdy and healthy type. They look what they are, an agricultural
community, and they have built up a prosperous little commonwealth
by their own persistent industry. Their number is about 600 souls,
and they employed, until the recent disturbance, about 400 to 500
Arab labourers, who belonged to the surrounding villages, and generally
resided in the colony, except for periodical visits to their villages.

The nearest administrative centre is Tulkeram, about 12 miles
distant, in the administrative district of Jaffa, while Khedera is in that
of Haifa. There is a railway station on the Haifa-Ludd line, about
1 J miles from the village. Kakon is about seven and Tulkeram about
12 miles to the south-east. Kakon is just on the edge of the sandy plain,
and is a link between that part of the plain and a number of villages to
the east and north-east. Tulkeram is on the high road from Jaffa
to Nablus, with Jaffa about 27 miles to the south-west, and Nablus
about 18 miles to the east.

You may call Tulkeram a large village or a small town. It is the
administrative centre for about 40 villages and is the seat of a Sub-
District Governor. It is almost exclusively Moslem ; there are a few
Christians, but Jews are not tolerated. The same may be said of
Nablus, the capital of the district of Samaria.

On the 6th May, 1921, a raid was made from neighbouring villages
upon Khedera. The lives of the colonists were saved by the arrival
of an aeroplane, but two houses were burned and 14 houses were wholly
or partially ransacked. Much cattle is said to have been stolen.

The events which led up to this raid began with the Jaffa riots,
which took place on the 1st May. The consequent excitement spread
through the country, especially to the north-east. No open hostility
had existed in the past between Moslems and Jews, between Tulkeram*



and its neighboiirliood and Khedera, but there had been little inter-
course and little opportunity for quarrel.

The facts of the Jafia riots were greatly exaggerated, and there
were stories of Moslems men, women and children having been
murdered by Jews. The Jews were supposed to be generally Bolshevik,
and Bolsheviks were understood to be against property and Govern-
ment, marriage and religion. There were rumours that rifles and
ammunition had been sent from Khedera to Petach-Tikvah (Mulebbis)
and Jaffa to arm the Jews, and that the Arab workmen of Khedera had
been imprisoned in the colony.

Mr. Beading, the Sub-District Governor of Tulkeram, was absent
on leave, and Wadi Effendi Isawi, a Palestinian Christian official, was
acting in his place. He admits that he was quite aware on Wednesday,
the 4:th May, that there was a movement in Tulkeram and neighbour-
hood against the Jews. This movement first concentrated in an
advance towards Khedera, and some 100 men marched out of Tulkeram
at about 7.30 in the evening. The Acting Sub-District Governor
telephoned to the Civil Secretary, who gave him leave to use some Indian
Cavalry, who were at Tulkeram on their way elsewhere. With these
he proceeded on the night of the 4th to Kakon, and succeeded in
turning back the crowd, but there is little doubt that he would not
have succeeded in doing this but for the Cavalry, because the Arabs
were persuaded that Arab workmen had been imprisoned in Khedera.
So persistent was this rumour from that time onwards, that on the
following day an excited crowd was rushing to the armoury clamouring
for arms, and was with difficulty kept back. It was calmed for the
moment by the Acting Sub-District Governor, who then telephoned to
the Civil Secretary, and obtained the services of an aeroplane to drop a
letter in the colony. The following is the text of the letter :

" You are warned to let all Arab workmen in the colony of
Khedera go this evening at six o'clock, otherwise the
Arabs of neighbouring villages are likely to attack you in
order to release them, as they believe the workmen are
being detained against their wil]."

The sense of this message was made known to the people of Tulkeram
in a reassuring communique by the Acting Sub-District Governor, who
also endeavoured to obtain reinforcements of police or troops from the
Civil Secretary, and the District Governors of Jafia and x^blus. As
the result of these representations British Reserve Inspector Beard
arrived from Nablus with 10 policem.en. This took place on Thursday,
5th May, on which day there was an attack by Arabs on Petach-Tikvah
(Mulebbis), a Jewish colony about 18 miles south-west of Tulkeram
and eight miles from Jaffa, but east of the high road. Many Arabs
were killed by the military. The village of Kalkilieh, about 10 miles
south-west of Tulkeram, and in its jurisdiction, and about eight miles
from Petach-Tikvah, became the centre of a fresh set of rumours, which
accused the inhabitants of Petach-Tikvah of attacking Arab villages,
particularly Kalkilieh. This rumour was so persistent that even as
far distant as Tulkeram families were leaving their villages for fear
of the Petach-Tikvah Jews. At the same time the story of arms being



sent to Petacli-Tikvah by cart was revived, and on tlie afternoon of
Thursday, the 5th, a crowd of some hundreds descended on Tulkeram
railway station. IMr. Garnett was there in charge of telephone con-
struction, and had already sent away his Jewish workmen for safety
only just in time, as it transpired, since the crowd that came to the
station made at once for the tents of the Jewish workmen with intent
to kill them. This crowd did no damage of any kind, nor did it inter-
fere with the railway officials, or with Mr. Garnett. It had two objects
in view firstly, to get into a goods train going to Kalkilieh and to
defend the village against the Jews ; secondly, to search for the carts
supposed to be carrying arms to Petach-Tikvah. Mr. Garnett stopped
the goods train, and part of the crowd dispersed. When a passenger
train came in from Kalkilieh the remainder searched it for Jews, but
could not find any. It is curious that it did not then occur to it to
enter the train and proceed to Khedera.

During the whole of the afternoon of the 5th May there was great
excitement in Tulkeram, and Wadi Effendi had no respite from deputa-
tions and demonstrations. At this time, Nablus, too, was in a high
state of excitement over the Jaffa riots, and refused to believe any
ofiicial reports and pronouncements. Colonel Postlethwaite, the
Governor, had to request notables to come from Jaffa and make a
report in person in order to quieten the townspeople. At about
6 p.m. on the 5th a motor car containing Omar Effendi Bittar and
Mr. Tadros, leading Moslem and Christian notables of Jaffa, passed
through Tulkeram on its way to Nablus. The crowds at Tulkeram,
not knowing the identity of the occupants of the car, and prompted
by an idea that they were sent by the Jews, assumed a hostile atti-
tude, and it was only with an escort of police that the car was able to
proceed on its way, after these gentlemen had attempted to reassure
the mob. Later on a fresh commotion arose owing to the rumour of
an attack upon Kalkilieh by Jews. This rumour was greatly strength-
ened by a telephone message from the stationmaster, Kalkilieh, to
Wadi Effendi, in which he transmitted a report that a strong Jewish
force had sacked Kalkilieh, whose inhabitants were fleeing to the hills.
This report also became known in the town. Wadi Effendi after
vainly attempting to dispel the rumour, communicated with the
Civil Secretary, who informed him that relief was being sent and that
armoured cars would soon leave for Khedera. It seems as if at the
moment, although the most persistent and exciting rumours still dealt
with Kalkilieh, it did appear to the Acting Sub-District Governor that
Khedera, which was the nearest Jewish colony, was the chief point
of danger in his vicinity. Had he been better acquainted with the
country, which was, of course, outside his district, he would have
known that armoured cars were the least useful military weapon in
such sandy and trackless soil, and would have pressed for cavalry.

During the night of the 5th and the early morning of the 6th,
people were coming in from neighbouring villages, and a considerable
number must have collected in Tulkeram. They were rudely armed,
and not a serious force if encountered by a small number of experienced
troops ; but a formidable mob for the police to deal with. They were



-8

too excited to listen to reason. Such alarm had been caused by the
Kalkilieh reports that women and children had been sent to Nablus
for safety. Wadi Effendi himself went to Kalkilieh on the early
morning of the 6th. An armoured car and two tenders under the
control of Lieutenant Buttersley had arrived at Tulkeram at 6 a.m.
on the 6th, and were stationed at the open place opposite the
Govemorate.

All was quiet at Kalkilieh when the Acting Sub-District Governor
arrived ; nothing had happened there except that shots had been heard
from a village in the direction of Petah-Tikvah, provoking a certain
amoimt of panic. On his return to Tulkeram he found two questions
awaiting him a deputation from Nablus asking for information about
Kalkilieh, and insisting on the disarming of the Jews ; secondly, the
outstanding question of Khedera. He asked the Nablus deputation
if they would like to send a member with him to Khedera to inquire as
to the truth of the rumour about the imprisoned workmen This
offer they declined.

At this time Wadi Effendi did not seem to have realised that any-
thing very serious was happening in the direction of Khedera. The
night before he, with the help of the Mayor, had got a certain amount
of the crowd out of Tulkeram, under the impression that if this were
done they would disperse to their villages. Whether these men, or
any of them, afterwards went to Khedera, we do not know. Mr. Beard,
Reierve Inspector of Police at Nablus, had taken charge of the police
at Tulkeram at about 8.15 in the morning of the Thursday. He
seems to have realised the importance of the situation on the Thursday,
because on that evening he communicated with the Civil Secretary,
asking for cavalry, and was promised reinforcements, but no cavalry
specifically. He says nothing about the crowd having been kept out
of the town on Thursday night, but tells what certainly did happen,
namely, that a crowd set out from Tulkeram in the direction of Kakon
at about 9 o'clock on Friday morning, and could not be held back.
He sent five mounted men, in charge of Sergeant-Major Inam, to turn
them if possible. Copies of Wadi Effendi's reassuring communique
were given to the police for distribution among the crowd. When
they reached Kakon the Sergeant-Major sent a man to say that a large
and excited mob had collected at Kakon, and that Mr. Beard should
either come himself or send more men. The police at Tulkeram had
then been increased to the number of 15 by the reinforcements sent
from Nablus. Five of these had already, as we have seen, gone with
the Sergeant-Major, and Mr. Beard sent five more. He ought to have
known at that time that an attack on Khedera was imminent, and that
the presence of a superior officer was imperative. It was not enough
to have sent 10 police under a N.C.O. to keep back a large mob evidently
bent on mis(3ifef| ^^hd',^ f^r all he knew, might number some thousands.
The only chance he had of doing anything effective was to ride out
himself, push on his police to the colony, and defend it- as best he could,
as Theodore Effendi Aboud, the Palestinian Inspector in charge of the
Tulkeram Police, who was present at the time, could well have been
entrusted with the maintenance of pubhc security in the town. While



9:

we would hesitate to assert that this course would in the event have
saved the colony, we think that he should have tried it. The armoured
cars were then waiting to be used. They might have been of some use
if sent to Khedera in good time, so as to provide machine guns for the
defence.

Mr. Beard did nothing but send five policemen to join the others in
the futile attempt to keep back the crowd. They did no good and no
harm.

When Wadi Effendi had returned from Kalkiheh he was again in
telephonic communication with the Civil Secretary, and it was decided
that he should take two notables and the Mayor to Khedera to inquire
into the allegations about the workmen. There was a good deal of
discussion about it, the crowd objecting to their Mayor and notables
taking any risk. Finally it was decided that Wadi Effendi should take
the son of the Mayor and two other sons of notables in a Ford car,,
which was escorted by an armoured car and a tender, under the com-
mand of 2nd-Lieutenant McDonald, with four police in addition to the
military complement. It was not a brilliant enterprise. The ar-
moured car and tender stuck in the sand, and only reached the colony
after about 2| hours, and the Ford car with Wadi Eflendi and the
young notables never arrived at all, Mr. McDonald having left it behind
a mile or so outside Khedera, as the attack was in progress and the
occupants were unarmed.

Now we come to what had happened in the colony during the time
that Tulkeram had been the centre of agitation. Khedera is extra-
ordinarily isolated from Tulkeram, and only vague, sandy tracks con-
nect the two places. It is quicker to go on horseback. It was not in
the district of Wadi Effendi, and he had never been there. The Senior
District Official in the locality at the time was Mr. Andrews, an in-
spector attached to the Governorate, Haifa. On Thursday, the 5th,
Mr. Andrews was at another Jewish Colony further north, arranging
for its defence, and fully aware that an attack upon the Jews was
likely to occur at any moment. By 7 a.m. on Friday, the 6th, he was in
Khedera. The Arab labourers had been dismissed the day before
and the colonists had concentrated upon the yard and house of Mr.
Schneirson, in the north-west portion of the village. Mr. Andrews
went to the station for the purpose of telephoning, and got into com-
munication with Haifa, asking for a dozen troops by rail, also with
Divisional Headquarters at Ludd, asking for an aeroplane. The Indian
troops sent from Haifa could not have arrived in time, even if nothing
nad occurred to delay them. They were delayed for an hour at Kafr
Samir, owing probably to the indifference and stupidity of a railway
official, Naim Effendi El Khoury, who was accompanying the train.
What prevented the raid from being converted into a catastrophe was
the arrival of the aeroplane.

At 10 a.m. Flying Officer Flynn, R.A.F., received orders from his
Commanding Officer to go to .Khedera and reconnoitre raiding Arabs
in that district, " offensive action not to be taken unless necessary."
He left Ramleh at 10.20 a.m., and was over Khedera at 10.55 a.m.
He saw about 500 Arabs at a distance which he took to be 3 J miles



10

from the colony. They appeared to be in an attacking formation on a
front of about two miles. The aviator dropped bombs clear of the
Arabs, and fired his machine gun to frighten them, and it had the
effect of making them rush to a Bedouin Camp to the south of the
colony. Then he flew to Jenin for further orders. He could not
remain in the air until the Arabs actually attacked, and until his petrol
was exhausted. He hesitated to use force because an attack had not
actually begun. He proceeded to Jenin for more definite orders, and
from that station sent a message to Ramleh for a second aeroplane.
When the airman returned at 12.35 p.m. the attackers had already
entered the village from the south-east under the cover of a grove of
eucalyptus trees. They had burned, ransacked, destroyed and looted
at will in that quarter of the village. They had encountered for a
moment three mounted scouts, who retired on their approach, but no
colHsion had occurred as yet between them and the inhabitants of the
colony. Mr. Flynn circled round the village at a low altitude, and
ascertained the condition of affairs. On the occasion of his former
flight he had been unable to turn the Arabs from their attack by a
demonstration of force without actual violence. On the second occa-
sion his return created a panic among the invaders, which caused them
to hurry from the village, carrying in their flight what loot they could.
As they fled, the Arabs were hurried in their retreat by bombs and
machine-gun fire. Their casualties were not so great as might have
been expected. Three Arabs are known to have been killed and three
wounded. Among the retiring Arabs, whom Mr. Flynn estimates as
a crowd of between 400 to 500 persons, were the 10 mounted policemen.
The Sergeant-Ma j or asserts that he arranged his men in military forma-
tion so that the airman might observe that they were not a part of the
mob, and avoid bombing them. Mr. Flynn observed that these were
police, but from the fact of their retreatment with the raiders, regarded
them as participating in the raid, and took no pains to discriminate
between them and the rest of the crowd. Four of these were wounded,
the Sergeant-Major severely, and three police horses were killed.

It was after Mr. Flynn had definitely put to flight the raiding Arabs
that the armoured car and a second aeroplane, the latter in charge of
Flight Lieutenant Routh, arrived.

It is on the observation of the airmen that we mainly rely in estimat-
ing the number of the raiders. Mr. Flynn, who was interested in
observing the number of the persons with whom he had to deal, esti-
mates the body of raiders whom he saw advancing in his first and
retreating on his second flight as between 400 and 500 men. He could
not say that those whom he observed were all the men engaged in the
enterprise, but it was not difficult to see people in that flat plain, and
he did not notice any further considerable body of men. There were
few trees and little cover to hide the presence of a large body, and Mr.
Flynn, on being pressed, could not be got to admit the possibility of
there having been more than 1,000 men all told. In view of this
opinion and observation of Mr. Routh, the second airman, who in his
evidence mentioned smaller numbers, we are not prepared to find that a
larger number of men than 1,000 were engaged at all in this raid, nor



11

that more than about 500 actually reached the colony. Of the latter
number many were seen carrying loot on their retreat, but no raided
cattle were observed.

The lives of the colonists were saved. They had been in great peril,
and we have no doubt that had the raid not been interrupted, the
colony would have been destroyed. At the moment that their great
anxiety and fear were relieved, the reaction in the minds of the colonists
manifested itself in a curious manner. We express no opinion of the
amount of damage sustained. The looting and wreckage of furniture
and household effects was appalling in its savage thoroughness. The
indignation naturally aroused by the sight of their damaged property
was turned, in the absence of the perpetrators, upon the unfortunate
policemen who had arrived in the armoured car, and against others.
The complaints made may be read in a written memorandum presented
to the Government by the Committee of the colony, in which wild and
unfounded accusations are recklessly launched against a number of
individuals. We need say no more than that we have gone with some
care into these accusations, and are unanimous in dismissing them.

What happened after the raid is of minor importance. The belated
troops arrived, first foot and then cavalry. It was decided to search
suspected villages for loot on the Saturday, with the aid of the military.
That would have necessitated taking Jews with the troops to identify
articles found and suspected to be loot. Major Tute, President of the
Land Court at Nablus, was placed in charge of local operations by
order of the Government, and he decided that -in the then excited
state of public feeling this search was inadvisable, and the plan was
abandoned. The colonists were indignant, being of opinion that their
interests were being neglected in order to avoid wounding the sus-
ceptibilities of Arabs, who were all more or less within the circle of a
criminal conspiracy. We are not disposed to question the wisdom of
Major Tute's decision.

There is one fact which has to be decided before this slender tale of
the Khedera raid is complete, and it is this : " Were Arab labourers
imprisoned in Khedera for days, from noon of the 4th to noon of the
6th, as alleged, or at all ? " Notwithstanding the persistence of this
rumour and the evidence of four witnesses, who all swore to having


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