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April 15: The Arab Revolt

April 15, 2013

220px-Al-Husayni1929headIsrael Khazan and Zvi Dannenberg, Jewish truckers in Palestine, were attacked and killed by Arab assailants on this day in 1936 in the first fatal attack of the three-year Arab revolt, a nationalist uprising against British Mandatory rule and against increasing Jewish immigration, which had doubled the population of Jews in Palestine to 370,000, or 27 percent of the general population, over the course of four years. The Arab Revolt would begin with a general strike in April, a tax strike in May, and the bombing of trains, oil pipelines, and other infrastructure. By the summer of 1936, thousands of acres of farmland and orchards worked by Jews would be destroyed and several Jewish communities would be entirely uprooted. The British response was brutal, including summary execution, mass arrests, harsh interrogation and torture, and the destruction of entire Arab villages. According to official British figures, more than 2,000 Arabs were killed in combat over the course of the three years, 108 were hanged, and 961 more died because of revenge attacks, gang activities, sniping, and terrorism. Other analysts have suggested Arab casualties of 5,032 dead and nearly 15,000 wounded. The British also estimated Jewish deaths at 300 and British deaths at 262. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, went into exile after the revolt was crushed, eventually finding sanctuary in Nazi Germany, where he actively collaborated with Hitler's government.

"I will never forget arriving at al-Bassa and seeing the Rolls Royce armoured cars of the 11th Hussars peppering Bassa with machine gun fire and this went on for about 20 minutes and then we went in and I remembered we had lighted braziers and we set the houses on fire and we burnt the village to the ground." --Desmond Woods, officer of the Royal Ulster Rifles