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300,000 Palestine Jews Under Martial Law; Agency Protests Sweeping Measures

March 3, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In a joint statement issued tonight after a secret session called to consider the situation created by the imposition of martial law on areas where 250,000 to 300,000 Jews live, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council expressed regret that the government retaliated against the entire community for the “crimes of a few desperate gunmen.”

At the same time, it expressed its grief and abhorrence at yesterday’s country-wide attacks on British personnel and installations, which cost the lives of 20 persons and resulted in the wounding of many others, and pledged to intensify their efforts to end “bloodshed and murder.”

The Jewish institutions, which went into emergency session immediately after the official proclamation of martial law, which had been anticipated following yesterday’s outbreaks, rejected the government’s linking of the outrages to “lack of cooperation” on their part, pointing out that despite lengthy negotiations, they had failed to obtain any concessions from the government which would help in easing the tension in Palestine. “The government is now retaliating against the Yishuv as a whole for the crimes of a few desperate gunmen, seeking by the imposition of martial law, which is unlikely to deter terrorism, to punish the entire community.” They expressed solidarity with the people under martial law who are “scapegoats for evil which is not of their making.”


The government communique announcing martial law in Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah, Remath Gan and Bnei Brak, in the Sharon district, and the Meah Shearim, Bukhara, Beth Israel, Sanhedria, Kerem Avraham and Geula quarters of Jerusalem was issued shortly after noon today and went into effect at 1:15 p.m. Broadcast over the radio, it stated in part:

“A month ago the Palestine Government invited the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council to call on the Jewish Community to cooperate in bringing to justice members of the terrorist groups. Those institutions refused cooperation. Renewed warnings were therefore given concerning the serious consequences which further terrorist outbreaks would entail. More severe measures are now necessary as a result of the lack of cooperation against bloodshed and terrorism, which those institutions themselves condemned. Since the invitation for cooperation was issued, 48 outrages have occurred wherein 20 people lost their lives and 31 were injured, including 13 civilians.

“There is distinct evidence to link the attacks carried out March 1 with the Tel Aviv area from which it is well known that the operation of dissident groups is conducted. For instance, the vehicles used for the attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa were stolen yesterday in Tel Aviv. Regulations providing for the imposition of statutary martial law are therefore being applied from 1:15 p.m. today, March 2, in the Tel Aviv, Ramath Gan, Bnei Brak, and Petach Tikvah area.”

The scope of the military restrictions were outlined briefly in the communique. “Government offices and courts will be closed; banks may be closed by order of the military commander, telephone and postal service may be suspended,” it stated, adding: “Movement of persons and vehicles may be prohibited, exclusive jurisdiction in respect of criminal offences committed in areas specified by His Excellency is vested in military courts.”


At his headquarters in Tel Aviv, where 6,000 troops were patrolling all streets with orders “to shooot on sight” curfew violators, Major General R.H. Gale, military commander of the Tel Aviv area, told a press conference that it was not his object to punish the inhabitants of the city, but to apprehend members of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, which had announced that it was responsible for yesterday’s attacks, and the Stern Group. He said that the “vigorous measures,” which he insisted were short of actual martial law, would “inconvenience” the inhabitants by cutting them off from communication with the rest of the country.

He announced that no trains except food transports would be allowed to enter the area, and added that the curfew might be lifted within 24 hours, but even after that rigid regulations affecting the conduct of the population would remain in effect and no one would be permitted to enter or leave the area until terrorism was “eradicated.” Factories were idle today and the schools were closed as all Jews remained indoors.

Trigger-happy soldiers in Tel Aviv were shooting at cars and pedestrians who were out on legitimate business. Itzhak Kuperman, Jewish district commissioner, was fired upon by a patrol which did not bother challenging him. The car was peppered with bullet holes but Kuperman escaped injury. A girl on the balcony of her home was wounded when a soldier fired upon her.


In Jerusalem, where an extensive manhunt was in progress for the terrorists who blasted the Goldsmith officers club a four-year-old Jewish girl, Chettie Shalem, was shot and killed by a military patrol and her six-year-old sister was wounded when she ran out to aid the mortally wounded child. An official communique announced “warning” shots had been fired in the Meah Shearim quarter, where the child was killed, but that no one was hit. In the Rahavia quarter, where the officers club was located, 60 persons were detained for further questioning. The entire male population of the adjoining Shaeri Zedek quarter were herded into large wire pens and questioned.

At 1 p.m. this afternoon a curfew imposed yesterday was lifted from the central section of Jerusalem, except in the six quarters where martial law reigned. A later government communique announced that in the areas under martial law the curfew would be lifted for three hours Tuesday to permit the inhabitants to replonish their food stocks.

In a day and night of terror which opened with the destruction of the officers club in Jerusalem and swept the length and breadth of the country, at least a score of attacks were carried out, including the complete destruction of a military car park in Haifa with fire bombs and several attacks on army camps with mortar, machine gun and small arms fire as well as the mining of military vehicles.

A number of the passengers from the Chaim Arlosorof, whose interception set off the wave of Irgun attacks, were yesterday deported to Cyprus despite a court order to the contrary.

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