The Consul at Jerusalem ( Steger ) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that, in the opinion of both the civil and military authorities, the Arab “revolt”, or, as it is more often called, “the disturbances” of 1937–39, may be considered to be at an end.
There are still a few scattered armed gangs in existence. One of them, in fact, was very recently, and possibly still is, within a few miles of Jerusalem; and this gang on October 1 murdered in broad daylight, on the road to the Mount of Olives, the English Superintendent of the Animal Hospital and his Arab assistant.
It is considered, however, that such gangs as still exist are rather “bandits” than “rebels”—in other words, that the organization of the armed rebellion against British authority has for all practical [Page 807] purposes ceased to exist. Those remaining are for the most part persons who prefer a life of banditry to one of hard work, or who are unable to return to their normal occupations through fear either of arrest by the authorities or of personal revenge for crimes committed by armed bands of which they were members.
The Public Information Officer, with whom I discussed the situation yesterday, informed me that he had just been making a rather interesting comparison of crime statistics. In the course of this he has found that crimes of violence in recent weeks have been at about the same level as during the corresponding period of 1931. There is always in normal times a certain amount of violence in this country; and although the number of such crimes recently has been “rather high for peace time, it is very low if we compare it with the period of the disturbances.” Under the circumstances he has ceased the issuance of the regular bulletins regarding non-civil crime, from which the statistics given in this series of reports have up to this time been compiled.
The figures given in the appended tabulation19 covering the past fortnight have, therefore, been compiled from the local press. The Public Information Officer informs me, however, that all such crimes are being reported in the newspapers, and that a compilation from that source may be accepted as accurate.
That the military authorities consider the situation to have definitely improved is shown by the progressive relaxation of restrictions on road travel. A recent announcement states that the military requirement for travel passes has been canceled, effective October 14, with respect to practically all areas in Palestine except the portion which lies east of a line running from north to south through Nazareth, Jenin, Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron, and Beersheba.
In view of this general opinion that the present series of “disturbances” is coming to an end, and in view of the discontinuance of official communiqués on the subject, it appears that the present series of special fortnightly reports on the public security situation may also properly be discontinued at this time. Unless, therefore, there should be a marked recrudescence of disorder, no further separate despatches on this subject will be submitted; and any information of interest in this connection will be incorporated in the fortnightly Press Review of the Consulate General.
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