Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In 1936, the Arab leadership in the British Mandate of Palestine, led by Haj Amin al-Husayni, declared a general strike to protest the impact of, and put an end to Jewish immigration to Palestine. The strike rapidly deteriorated into a violent rebellion which lasted approximately three years. The revolt was driven primarily by Arab hostility to Britain's tolerance of restricted Jewish immigration and land purchases which Arabs argued was leading them to becoming a minority in what they considered their territory and future nation-state. They demanded immediate elections which, based on their demographic superiority, would have resulted in a government under their control.
The British responded to the violence by greatly expanding their military forces and clamping down on Arab dissent. "Administrative detention" (imprisonment without charges or trial), collective punishments such as curfews, and house demolitions were among British practices during this period. More than 120 Arabs were sentenced to death and about 40 hanged. The main Arab leaders were arrested or expelled. Amin al-Husayni fled from Palestine to escape arrest.
The mainstream Jewish military organization, the Haganah (Hebrew for "defense"), actively supported British efforts to quell the largely peasant revolt insurgency, with the insurgent bands, at their peak during the summer and fall of 1938, reaching 10,000 Arab fighters. Although the British administration didn't officially recognize the Haganah, the British security forces cooperated with it by forming the Jewish Settlement Police , Jewish Auxiliary Forces and Special Night Squads . A smaller Haganah splinter group, the Irgun organization (also called by its Hebrew acronym Etzel), adopted a policy of retaliation and revenge (including against noncombatants). Their actions, which included setting off bombs in public places, killed hundreds of civilians.
Despite the assistance of 20,000 additional British troops and 14,500 well trained and well armed Haganah men, the Great Uprising continued for over three years. By the time order was restored in March of 1939, more than 5,000 Arabs, 400 Jews, and 200 Britons were killed.
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