The Bloody Day in Jaffa

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The Bloody Day in Jaffa (Hebrew: יום הדמים ביפו) refers to a spate of violent attacks on Jews that began on 19 April 1936 in Jaffa. The event is often described as marking the start of the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine.


The immediate prelude to this riot began on 15 April 1936 with the Anabta shooting in which Arab followers of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam set up a roadblock on the Nablus to Tulkarm road, stopping about 20 vehicles to demand cash and weapons; separating out 3 Jews from other occupants of the vehicles. The Arabs then shot the 3 Jewish men; only 1 survived.[1][2] The two murdered Jewish drivers were Israel (or Yisrael) Khazan, who was killed instantly, and Zvi Dannenberg, who died five days later.[3][4] The following day members of Irgun shot and killed two Arab workers sleeping in a hut near Petah Tikva.[5] On 17 April, the funeral for Khazan, one of the Jews shot at Anabta, was held in Tel Aviv, attracting a crowd of thousands, some of whom beat Arab passersby and vandalized property.[6]

On 19 April, rumors spread in the Arab community that "many Arabs had been killed by Jews", and Arabs began to attack Jews in the streets of Jaffa.[1][7] An Arab mob marched on the Jewish-owned Anglo-Palestine Bank. The British Mandatory police guarding the bank defended themselves by firing into the mob, killing two of the rioters. This incited the mob to "fury" and Jews began to be killed in the streets.[1]

British Mandatory authorities[8] and other sources date the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine to the day's incidents.[9][10][11][12]

In her 2006 book, Mussolini's Propaganda Abroad: Subversion in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, 1935-1940, Manuela Williams describes this as the "peak" event in a series of violent attacks leading up to the declaration of a general strike by the Arab Higher Committee.[13]


According to Aryeh Avneri, citing the History of the Haganah, the rioting broke out first among the Haurani dockworkers in Jaffa Port.[14] A mob of Arab men rampaged through the mixed Muslim, Christian and Jewish streets of Jaffa, killing and beating Jews and wrecking Jewish homes and businesses.[15][16][17][18]

11 people were reported dead in the first day's rioting. These included 2 Arabs "shot by British police in self-defense," and 9 Jews, with dozens of others wounded, "most of the Jewish injured bore knife woulds.[1] The rioting went on for a total of 3 days, it was finally suppressed by the British military.[11]



The continuing threat of violence combined with the destruction of Jewish property and arson attacks that destroyed Jewish homes forced 12,000 Jews to flee Jaffa as refugees. 9,500 were housed by the Tel Aviv municipality, imposing a heavy financial burden on the city. Seventy-five temporary shelters were created in schools, synagogues, government and industrial buildings.[11] During May and June the Haganah was able to stabilize the security situation to the point where about 4,000 of the refugees were able to return to their homes.[11] Others found housing privately, so that by July only 4,800 remained in public refugee camps; 3,200 of these were utterly destitute.[11] By November, Jewish charities had placed even the destitute refugees in housing, and the refugee camps were closed.[11]

Annexation of Jaffa to Tel Aviv[edit]

One impact of this pogrom was the start of a political demand that Jaffa be incorporated into the city of Tel Aviv.[19]

Literary references[edit]

Chapter 11 of Leon Uris's bestselling 1984 novel, The Haj, is entitled Jaffa - April 19, 1936.[20][21] In The Blood of His Servants, Malcolm MacPherson writes of 19 April as the day when the Arab revolt on Palestine began, and a "campaign of armed attacks" started.[22][page needed] In his 1968 book, Days of Fire, Shmuel Katz, a senior member of the Irgun, wrote of arriving in Tel Aviv from Jerusalem on 19 April to find the town in turmoil with reports of stabbing in nearby Jaffa.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "9 Jews, 2 Arabs Dead, 54 Hurt In Jaffa Riots: Moslems Slain by British Police, Foes Knifed in Batlle (sic) Following Killing of a Jew by Bandits," New York Herald Tribune, 20 April 1936, p. 1.
  2. ^ 'Nablus Bandits Seen as Izz ed Din's followers', Palestine Post, Friday, 17 April 1936.
  3. ^ "Highwaymen's Second Victim Dead", Palestine Post, 21 April 1936.
  4. ^ 'Turk Killed by Hold-up Men', Palestine Post, 16 April 1936.
  5. ^ Gilbert, Martin (1998), Israel: A History Black Swan, p. 80.
  6. ^ Bar-On, Mordechai (2004). A Never-ending Conflict: A Guide to Israeli Military History, Greenwood, p. 23.
  7. ^ Schlör, Joachim (1999). Tel Aviv: From Dream to City. Reaktion Books. p. 203. 
  8. ^ Anglim, Simon (2015). Orde Wingate and the British Army, 1922-1944. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 1317324285. 
  9. ^ Bauer, Yehuda. "The Arab Revolt of 1936," New Outlook, Vol.9 No. 6 (81), 1966, p. 49.
  10. ^ Hillel Cohen, Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917–1948, University of California Press, 2008, p. 95.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Marginal Populations and Urban Identity in Time of Emergency: The Case of the 1936 Refugees in Tal Aviv," Arnon Golan, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol. 9 , Iss. 2, 2010.
  12. ^ Segev, Tom (2001-10-01). One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. Macmillan. p. 366. ISBN 9780805065879. 
  13. ^ Williams, Manuela (2006). Mussolini's Propaganda Abroad: Subversion in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, 1935-1940. Routledge. p. 60. ISBN 113424441X. 
  14. ^ Avneri, Aryeh (1982). The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land-Settlement and the Arabs, 1878-1948. Transaction Publishers. p. 32. ISBN 1412836212. 
  15. ^ Viton, Albert (3 June 1936). "Why Arabs Kill Jews". The Nation. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  16. ^ Rose, Norman. "The Debate on Partition, 1937-38: The Anglo-Zionist Aspect: I. The Proposal", Middle Eastern Studies 6, no. 3 (1970): 297-318. [1].
  17. ^ Townshed, Charles (7 July 1989). "The First Intifada: Rebellion in Palestine 1936-39". History Today. 39 (7). Retrieved 25 August 2016. [In] neighbouring Jaffa two days later dozens of Jews were attacked in the streets. Nine were beaten, stoned or stabbed to death. 
  18. ^ "2 More Jews Die of Riot Wounds; 10 Wounded in New Jaffa Attacks". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 21 April 1936. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  19. ^ Tamir Goren (2016) "The Jews of Jaffa at the Time of the Arab Revolt: the emergence of the demand for annexation," Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 15:2, 267-281, DOI: 10.1080/14725886.2015.1090113.
  20. ^ Leon Uris, "The Haj 1984.
  21. ^ Ted Swedenberg, Popular Memory and the Palestinian National Past, in Jay O'Brien, Golden Ages, Dark Ages: Imagining the Past in Anthropology and History, University of California Press, 1991, p. 161.
  22. ^ McPherson, Malcolm (1984). The Blood of His Servants. Times Books. 
  23. ^ Katz, Shmuel (1968). Days of Fire. Doubleday. p. 4.