Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

400 Arrested in Jerusalem for Participating in Attack on Knesset

January 9, 1952
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Approximately 400 persons were arrested today as a result of the disturbances which took place yesterday in front of Parliament when a crowd of about 2,000 demonstrated against the government’s proposal for direct negotiations with Germany on reparations.

The arrests were made in the early hours of the morning while a large number of the people who participated in yesterday’s riots were crowding the bus stations here to return to their homes in various parts of the country. They are members of the right-wing Herut Party which summoned them to a “march on Jerusalem” in protest against the government decision to conduct negotiations with Germany.

A military spokesman today announced that following yesterday’s disturbances in Jerusalem, Israel Army general headquarters took measures to increase the armed forces in the Israel-Jordan border area which runs through the city of Jerusalem. Military units in other parts of the country were alerted, the spokesman revealed.

Mayor S.Z. Shragai of Jerusalem issued a statement condemning the “wild outbreaks and attacks on the Knesset–the highest body in the Jewish state and its heart.” He called upon the citizens to respect Israel’s legislature. Rabbi Judah L. Maimon, Mizrachi leader and former Minister for Religious Affairs, issued a statement declaring that although he opposes direct negotiations with Germany, he opposes even more the violence employed yesterday by the Herut Party.


The pro-Government Mapai Labor Party today began organizing its members to counter possible further anti-Government demonstrations. A considerable number of buses was put at the disposal of the Mapai in the event it needed to bring members from Tel Aviv and Haifa to Jerusalem. Plans to check renewed attacks on Parliament were also mapped today at an emergency meeting at the Jerusalem police headquarters.

Meanwhile, the left-wing Mapam Party issued a call to former fighters in the ghettos which the Nazis established in Europe, as well as to partisans who fought the Nazis, to join in a demonstration before Parliament against the proposed Israel-German negotiations. The demonstration has been authorized by the police authorities. At the same time, the police erected a triple-barrier defense line for any eventuality. The policemen were also equipped with “Roman shields,” gas masks and wooden clubs, but no firearms. However, the Mapam demonstration, which was addressed by Itzhak Gruenbaum, passed without incident.


Late this afternoon, about 100 of the persons detained as participants in yesterday’s outbreaks declared a hunger strike in the Ramleh jail demanding their immediate release. Most of them claim that they are members of the Mapai and General Zionist Parties and that they took no part in the Herut demonstration, but were arrested by the police while boarding buses from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Many of the 400 detainees were transferred to the Jalame detention camp. Police authorities said that most of them will be released, while those charged with violence against the police will be arraigned before judges who will sit in the detention center.

A police communique issued today gives the following account of yesterday’s disturbances: “Police headquarters received information that after an open-air meeting arranged by the Herut Party, the demonstrators would try to enter the Knesset building. Consequently, the police received instructions to prevent such penetration and the Jerusalem police received adequate reinforcement.

“At 3 P.M. yesterday the police cordoned off the Knesset and put up barricades in accordance with pre-arranged plans. All policemen who participated in the defense of the Knesset did not use force unless attacked with force.

“At 4 P.M. the open air meeting of the Herut took place at Zion Square and was addressed by several Herut leaders, including Prof. Joseph Klausner and Menahem Beigin. Approximately 2,000 people attended the meeting, after which they moved in two echelons toward the Knesset where they were met by the police who ordered their dispersion. The demonstrators did not yield and the police were compelled to use water hoses against them.

“The demonstrators then made a vigorous push, beating policemen with sticks and iron bars and with whatever fall into their hands. They also stoned the police from surrounding rooftops. The policemen who were hit and fell to the ground were stamped on by the demonstrators and injured. Several firemen were also injured.

“Bands of attackers succeeded in heavy clashes in breaking through the police cordons and approaching the Knesset, where they began stoning the building. The police attacked the mob using tear gas bombs, but the mob replied with the same, simultaneously making an effort to break into the building from other sides.

“Approximately at midnight the police succeeded in repulsing the mob and clearing the streets. Military units which were sent to reinforce the police did not participate in any action. Ambulances of the Mogen Dovid Adom were attacked by the mob and stoned. The mob severely damaged many private cars stationed around the Knesset by igniting kerosene poured on the roads.

“In the clashes between the police and the mob approximately 140 policemen were injured. It is impossible today to estimate the number of civilians injured, since they had beforehand organized first-aid stations. However, it can be estimated that between 200 and 350 civilians were injured. Altogether, approximately 400 of the mob were detained today in the early morning hours while in buses returning from Jerusalem to other parts of the country.”

Recommended from JTA