HC Deb 20 July 1938 vol 338 cc2179-81
31. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many people have been killed or wounded, how many bombs have been thrown, how many other terrorist acts have been committed, and what damage to property has been sustained in Palestine during the past fortnight?

Mr. M. MacDonald

During the fortnight ended the 19th July, 77 persons were killed and 247 wounded, and there were 32 cases of bomb-throwing. Other terrorist acts included 52 cases of sniping, seven armed robberies and one kidnapping. There were two outbreaks of arson at Haifa, which were suppressed, and a number of acts of sabotage against Jewish, Arab and Government property; but I am unable to estimate the extent of the damage to property sustained during the period.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered asking the Commission at present in Palestine to expedite the preparation of its report in order that British policy must be announced in Palestine as a first step towards checking such acts of terrorism as the right hon. Gentleman has just given us?

Mr. MacDonald

My information is that the Commission has almost completed taking evidence in Palestine and will be leaving Palestine at the beginning of next month. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that it will not lose any time after that in completing its report, although it will require to take certain evidence and consider further other matters after its return to this country.

Mr. Mander

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the country from which the bombs were imported?

Mr. MacDonald

I understand that by far the greater part of them, at any rate, were manufactured in Palestine itself.

Mr. Mander

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information about a number of them being manufactured in Germany?

Mr. MacDonald

No, Sir.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has the Commission been asked to expedite its report, as far as possible?

Mr. MacDonald

Yes, Sir.

34. Mr. Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of persons killed in the disturbances in Palestine during 1936, 1937, and 1938, giving separate figures for British, Jews, and Arabs?

Mr. M. MacDonald

As the answer contains columns of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Watkins

Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us, at any rate, the total number of people killed in Palestine since 1936.

Mr. MacDonald

I am afraid I have not the total expressed in that way. I think the best way will be to circulate the figures, and then hon. Members can add them up for themselves.

Mr. T. Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Mufti has circularised terrorists inviting them to leave Jews alone and concentrate on killing Arabs who are in favour of reaching a settlement?

Mr. MacDonald

I am not aware of that fact.

Mr. Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries in quarters where he is likely to get information?

Mr. MacDonald

indicated assent.

Following is the answer:

The number of persons killed in each of these years is as follows:

British. Jews. Arabs.
1936 28 81 203
1937 20 33 44
1938 (to 19th July) 16 71 139

The figures for 1936 cover only the period of six months during which there were serious disturbances.

The British casualties are all members of the police or of His Majesty's Forces with the exception one officer of the Civil Administration in 1937 and two British civilians in 1938.

39. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has considered a protest from the Arab Women's Committee alleging that most gates in Jerusalem are closed against the Arabs; that bombs have been thrown at worshippers leaving the mosque, killing innocent women and children; and what fresh steps he is taking to put an end to this state of affairs?

Mr. M. MacDonald

I have seen the protest to which the hon. Member refers. The House is aware of the recent steps which have been taken to increase the military forces in Palestine. In addition, the recruitment of considerable numbers of additional British police is now proceeding.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister not aware that, since the Government took a definite decision not to set up a legislative assembly, the situation there has become continually worse, until it has now reached a condition of desperation; and will not the Government announce a policy and give Jew and Arab the opportunity of living together under a legislative assembly of their own?

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