This week in Israel’s History: Arab rebellion breaks out in British Mandatory Palestine and Yitzhak Rabin leads a relief convoy into Jerusalem.
April 15, 1936: Arab Rebellion Breaks Out in Palestine
As Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine in the years following World War I increased, the economic situation began to change. An influx of Jews from Europe brought not only a drive to work and develop the land and economy, but also a surge of European money.
This new economic reality attracted workers from the surrounding Arab states. Between the years 1932 and 1936, Arab workers in Palestine earned over 50% more than the next-highest wages in the Middle East – in Egypt, according to F. Gottheil in “Arab Immigration into Pre-State Israel: 1922-1931.”
However, growing Arab discontent and concern regarding the possibility of the creation of a Jewish state sparked an uprising in Palestine that began with an attack on 15 April 1936, on a convoy of trucks on the road from Nablus to Tulkarm. Arab terrorists shot two Jewish drivers: Israel Khazan, who was killed instantly, and Zvi Dannenberg, who died five days later.
Although the revolt was eventually subdued by British forces, it included a six-month worker’s strike and protests as well as gang and terrorist activities. During the summer of that year, thousands of Jewish-farmed acres and orchards were destroyed, Jewish civilians were attacked and murdered, and some Jewish communities, such as those in Beisan and Acre, fled to safer areas, according to Martin Gilbert in Israel: A History. In the end, thousands of people died, both Arabs and Jews.
April 17, 1948: Yitzhak Rabin Leads a Relief Convoy into Jerusalem
According to the Partition Plan of Palestine, Jerusalem was to remain under international rule, even after the establishment of the State of Israel. However, during the fighting that led up
to the establishment of the Jewish state, there were continuous battles between Arabs and Jews for control of Jerusalem.
Starting in February 1948, Arab forces blockaded the road west of the city in order to prevent supplies from reaching the Jewish population. The siege would continue until June. Meanwhile, people were starving and in dire need of supplies, including food and water, but the Arab forces controlled the roads leading into the city and supply convoys were ambushed.
Only two days after the 24-year-old Yitzhak Rabin, chief of operations of the Palmach (elite Jewish fighting force), took command of the Harel Brigade, a supply convoy was organized. A week before, the Palmach had defeated Arab fighters at the Kastel, a fortress overlooking the entrance to the city. That victory made it possible for Rabin’s convoy to make it to Jerusalem, where the Jewish inhabitants received much-need supplies.