Friday, September 27, 2013

A Policeman's Recollection of Nablus

From here:

We dealt mainly with minor contraventions of municipal ordinances but stabbings were frequent and family feuds known as fasad would quite often erupt. These were long-standing vendettas whereby a member of one family would kill a member of another family, because that family had previously killed a member of his family. Apparently, this family obligation extended to the fifth degree of consanguinity. These murders were easy to solve as the blood-stained, curved-bladed daggers invariably used were generally recovered, and the identity of the assailant was not concealed by either family. To avoid a prison sentence, the murderer would often flee to another village, and his name would then be added to our list of "absconded offenders". 

Nablus was on the route through which hashish was brought by camel down from Syria and we would quite often seize slabs of it wrapped in sacks slung over the backs of camels. There was also the possibility of firearms being brought along this route, so road blocks would be set up at random, and we developed this into a fine art. A location would be chosen beyond a bend in the road; two or three "knife-rests" interwoven with coils of barbed wire were placed across the road to form an "S" through which vehicles had to manoeuvre. The police vehicle would be concealed facing outwards to deal with any vehicle that crashed through; and the site was overlooked from a concealed armed position above. The roadblock could be set up in minutes and rapidly moved to another location... Nablus was a fervent Moslem stronghold and, in accordance with strict Moslem tradition, the women dressed in black robes and veils when in the town. These robes were not floor-length chadors, and some of the younger ladies wore stylish shoes and transparent silk veils revealing well made-up faces. The Bedouin women were completely covered but many had elaborate facial tattoos and strings of gold coins dangling across their faces as a sign of wealth....
...Once the U.N. resolution was adopted the situation in Nablus began to deteriorate. At the beginning of 1948, a group of well-known bandits cum-soldiers of fortune from Lebanon, headed by Fawzi Kawakji, was reported in the area, and the locals began to carry rifles openly in public. The crackle of rifle fire could be heard frequently at night, but at this stage no one was being shot at and the firing was purely the customary morale-boosting exercise. There were no British troops at all in Samaria and the only soldiers we had ever seen were a few members of the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force in their red and white checked kafiyas (known locally as hatta wa egal) who would occasionally come across the Allenby Bridge from Trans-Jordan some 30 kilometres away.


No comments: