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Question of What Happened to Collective Punishments for Safed Becomes Issue

A report in the Arab paper Al Hayat that District Commissioner Colville had acquitted the Arab populace of Safed of charges involving attacks on the Jews during the riots of August 1929, thus exempting them from the provisions of the Collective Punishments Ordinance, has aroused considerable interest here as to what has happened to the hearing on the collective punishments for Safed where 17 Jews were killed.

On page seven of its 1929 report to the League of Nations the Palestine government said that the Collective Punishment Ordinance had been applied to “towns and villages whose inhabitants were guilty of participation in concerted attacks on Jews at Hebron Safed, etc.” In view of this statement and of the report in the Al Hayat, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency made inquiries from the government’s secretariat which stated that the statement in the 1929 report was only anticipatory.

Following the report in the Al Hayat the secretariat told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the hearing on levying collective punishment on Safed had not yet been reached. The Al Hayat’s report, however, is very circumstantial, even mentioning that Abcarius, a Jewish proselyte, is counsel for the Safed Arabs.

When interviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Abcarius said that the collective punishment hearing for Safed was held in January and since then no action has been taken. He said that District Commissioner Colville had probably recommended no punishment. Abcarius denied that he was responsible for the Al Hayat’s report that Safed’s Arab populace had been acquitted.

The statement in the 1929 report indicates that it is not merely anticipatory as the government’s secretary informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency but an evident misstatement requiring correction so far as Safed is concerned, collective punishments having been levied on other towns, including Hebron.

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