Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When The Scots Were in Silwan

An incident during the Revolt of 1936-1939:-

The British response to the assassination of two Black Watch Regiment soldiers near Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate on 5 November 1937 is a case in point. In what would be classed as an "official" account, General Sir Archibald Wavell, the overall commander in Palestine, remarked on the restraint shown by the Black Watch (coincidentally, his old regiment) on a subsequent operation against Silwan, the village south of the city blamed for the attack, although he did note that a suspect died "falling over a cliff".

In Ha'Aretz (the Land) it was reported how after tracker dogs led the authorities to the village, a villager was hospitalized after falling off a cliff, while soldiers shot dead one man and wounded another. The authorities then sealed the village, forbidding villagers to leave without a permit and requiring all males to report every evening to the police. The village was also forced to pay for a twenty-man police post.

More graphic accounts of what happened in Silwan are to be found in the private papers of soldiers present at the scene. A North Staffordshire Regiment officer recorded in his diary that Black Watch men beat twelve Arabs to death in Silwan with rifle butts.

The assailants had apparently left the two dead soldiers face down with their kilts raised and buttocks exposed, further enraging their comrades: "An insult the local Arabs suffered for." Another British officer recalled that the "Jocks" (slang for the Scottish) were uncontrollable after their comrades├ó€™ deaths and so the high command gave them eight hours to "search" Silwan without rifles: "a lot of Arabs were very sorry that it had happened."


From the Palestine Post, November 7, 1937:-

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