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    • Raanan
    • 27.05.05 | 20:13 (IDT)

    In the summer of 1929, a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem became steadily more violent, erupting in a week of riots in late August. During the week of riots, 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded (mostly by Arabs) and 116 Arabs and 232 wounded (mostly by British-commanded police and soldiers). Sequence of events On August 14, 1929, 6,000 Jews marched in Tel Aviv chanting "The Wall is ours". The next day, hundreds of Jews, including Betar members armed with batons, demonstrated at the Wall. Rumors and leaflets, some apparently prepared in advance, declared that the Jews were preparing to take control of the holy places and that Muslims should come to Jerusalem to defend them. On Friday, August 16, 1929, after an inflammatory sermon, a demonstration organized by the Supreme Muslim Council, marched to the Wall and proceeded to burn prayer books and supplicatory notes left in the Wall's cracks. To the Jewish protests, the acting High Commissioner Harry Luke anwered that "no prayer books had been burnt but only pages of prayer books". The riots continued, and the next day one Jew was killed in the Bukharan Quarter. His funeral were turned into political demonstration. On August 20, Haganah leaders proposed to provide defense for 600 Jews of the Old Yishuv in Hebron or help them evacuate, but the community leaders declined these offers, insisting that they trust the A'yan (Arab leadership) to protect them. The next Friday, August 23, 1929, Arabs, inflamed by false rumors that two Arabs had been killed by Jews started a murderous attack on Jews in the Old City. The violence quickly spread to other parts of Palestine, Arab policemen often joining the mobs. Throughout Palestine British authorities had only 292 policemen, fewer than 100 soldiers, six armored cars, and five or six aircraft. While a number of Jews were being killed at the Jaffa Gate, British policemen did not open fire. By August 24, 17 Jews were killed in Jerusalem area. The worst atrocities occurred in Hebron and Safed, where massacres of Jews occurred. In Hebron, Arab mobs killed 67 Jews and wounded many others. The lone British policeman in the town, Raymond Cafferata, was overwhelmed and the reinforcements he called for did not arrive for 5 hours (leading to bitter recriminations). Cafferata later testitifed: "On hearing screams in a room I went up a sort of tunnel passage and saw an Arab in the act of cutting off a child's head with a sword. He had already hit him and was having another cut, but on seeing me he tried to aim the stroke at me, but missed; he was practically on the muzzle of my rifle. I shot him low in the groin. Behind him was a Jewish woman smothered in blood with a man I recognized as a[n Arab] police constable named Issa Sherif from Jaffa in mufti. He was standing over the woman with a dagger in his hand. He saw me and bolted into a room close by and tried to shut me out-shouting in Arabic, "Your Honor, I am a policeman." ... I got into the room and shot him." Most of the other Jews survived by hiding with their Arab neighbors. The surviving Jews were evacuated from the town. The other major centers of violence were in Safed, where 18 Jews were killed in a brief attack, and in Jerusalem. During the week of riots, the fatalities were: * Killed: 133 Jews, 116 Arabs. * Wounded: 339 Jews, 232 Arabs. The Jews were mostly killed by Arabs, while the Arabs were mostly killed by British-commanded police and soldiers. On September 1, Sir John Chancellor condemned "the atrocious acts of committed by bodies of ruthless and bloodthirsty evildoers... murders perpetrated upon defenseless members of Jewish population... accompanied by acts of unspeakable savagery."

    from the article: Think before you sing `Hatikva'
    First published 00:00 27.05.05 | Last updated 00:00 27.05.05
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