Israel learned methods to suppress Palestinians from British forces

By Roger Spooner

Britain first promised Palestine to the Arabs in 1915 and then in 1917  to the global Jewish community.  In 1920 Britain set up the first civil administration of Palestine led by a Jewish Zionist  High Commissioner and a Christian First Secretary who supported Zionism because he believed it fulfilled Biblical prophecies.

Sir Martin Gilbert’s described our policy: ‘The centre piece of British mandatory policy was the withholding of representative institutions for as long as there was, in Palestine, an Arab majority’

Between 1936 and 1939 there was an Arab revolt against British policies. Tom Bateman writing in 2022 gave an example of the brutal methods Britain used to suppress this revolt: “The people of al-Bassa got their lesson in imperial brutality when the British soldiers came after dawn.” He tells the story on Newsnight above.

Machine guns mounted on Rolls Royce armoured cars opened fire on the Palestinian village before the Royal Ulster Rifles arrived with flaming torches and burned homes to the ground.

Villagers were rounded up while troops later herded men onto a bus and forced them to drive over a landmine which blew up, killing everyone on board.

A British policeman photographed the scene as women tended to the remains of their dead, before maimed body parts were buried in a pit.”

In 2023 Bateman produced a three-part podcast on BBC radio 4 The Mandates. It gives a picture of the Britain’s rule in Palestine from 1920-1948. It is well worth listening to. The second episode is about the Arab Revolt which covers examples such as al-Bassa. Bateman interviews Anita Shapira the doyen of Zionist historiography. She talks about the ‘Jews cooperating with the British army which showed them things they never imagined doing’. They learnt brutal methods from the British.

Over the time of the Revolt many of the Palestinian leadership were either killed, imprisoned or exiled.  Britain then continued this policy to ensure that there would be no Palestinian state, producing emergency laws such as administrative detention and house demolitions and passing these on to Israel. Moreover between the United Nations decision to partition Palestine in November 1947 and the creation of Israel in May 1948 around 250,000 Palestinians were expelled from the main cities by the Jewish militia and the British either did not interfere or in some cases assisted the expulsions.. We also removed the Palestine pound from the Sterling area in February 1948 so Palestinian’s savings were no longer transferable. As well as losing their homes they also lost their savings. Another step in preventing a Palestinian state.

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