Copyright 2001 Newspaper Publishing PLC
The Independent (London)
March 19, 2001, Monday
SECTION: COMMENT; Pg. 4
LENGTH: 1063 words
HEADLINE: SOME UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS FOR THE ARABS, THE JEWS AND... THE BRITISH
BYLINE: Andreas Whittam Smith
I was surprised to find how many dubious Israeli practices grew from British models.
Nobody any longer remembers this because it took place in 1939. However, it concerns us, the British. We then governed Palestine under a mandate from the League of Nations. We were attempting to put down an Arab rebellion.
Those were the days! We were more sophisticated. We erected a security fence along the northern border. We built dozens of police fortresses and concrete guard posts. We imported Dobermann dogs from South Africa. And we trained interrogators in torture. The British police chief in Jerusalem, Douglas Duff, described such methods in his memoir published in 1953. He tells how to apply physical force without leaving marks. We destroyed homes - 2,000 houses between 1936 and 1940 according to one estimate. We engaged in assassination. What did we not do that the Israeli army does today? It is hard to say.
One can trace the inheritance through a single soldier, the brilliant Orde Wingate, posted to Palestine as an intelligence officer in 1936. He became a fervent believer in Zionism. He was once described as a kind of Lawrence of the Jews. He set up Special Night Squads comprising British troops and Jewish volunteers that pursued terrorists by night. Their methods were brutal. Among his men was a future prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir, and the man who was to be Israel's most famous commander, Moshe Dayan. Churchill later described Wingate as "a man of genius and audacity". An official handbook of the Israeli Ministry of Defence states that the "teaching of Orde Charles Wingate, his character and leadership... and his influence can be seen in the Israel Defense Force's combat doctrine."
I am not saying that this ancient history should still all criticisms. Rather it should remove any notion of moral superiority, a very British fault.
Tegart's Wall was a Barbed wire Fence erected in the northern border of Palestine in the time of the British Mandate, in 1938, to prevent brigands from crossing the Syrian and Lebanese border to join the Great Uprising. The length of the fence was 75 Km. 5 fortresses and 20 pillboxes were built along the route of the fence. The fence was innitiated by sir Charles Tegart, a british expert in fighting Terror. The fence was dismanteled in 1942 in order to use the wire in the Western Desert Campaign in World War II. The fortresses and some of the Pillboxes remain to this day.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 09,00.html
From the Magazine | Foreign News
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Posted Monday, Jun 20, 1938
Britain's most ingenious solution for handling terrorism in Palestine was revealed in Geneva last week to the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission by His Majesty's Government's Deputy Permanent Under-Secretary for Colonies, Sir John Shuckburgh. Following a suggestion of mail-fisted Sir Charles Tegart, now adviser to the Palestine Government on the suppression of terrorism, a barbed wire barrier to keep out terrorists is being strung along the entire Palestine frontier at a cost of $450,000. This includes a nine-foot barbed wire fence between Palestine and French-mandated Lebanon and Syria, which border Palestine on the north and northeast. A lot of Palestine's tougher Arabs come from those two mandates. The fence will be completed in August, announced Sir John. Almost as he spoke, a band of Arab terrorists swooped down on a section of the fence, dubbed Tegart's Wall, ripped it up and carted it across the frontier into Lebanon.
From the Jun. 20, 1938 issue of TIME magazine
http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2005_0 ... chive.html
Deja vu is the rule when you look at the history of the conflict. Except when the British built walls, executed Arab terrorists and demolished their houses, they were fully justified. Only when the Jews do it does it become a crime.
The First Security Fence
(Editor's Note: The following article, from the Palestine Post of May 31, 1938 , shows how bad ideas keep resurfacing. The Tegart's Wall scheme , designed to protect British forces in the aftermath of the Arab rebellion of 1936, was abandoned. Sharon's plan to destroy Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, build a fence around a designated area, and leave the remaining territory to the Palestinian Authority, merely turns over the abandoned areas to terrorist control, without in any way interfering with Arab demands or stemming international pressures. Yaakov Amidror, former chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, points out in Middle East Quarterly [Winter 2004] that without control of the territory from which terrorism emanates, a military force "cannot detroy the infrastructure of terrorism [such as laboratories, training centers and safe houses]. Without territorial control, counterterrorism operations become risky, both in terms of physical danger and political cost." In the absence of territorial control, writes Amidror, "Israel's real line of defense is its own cities and towns. And because the terrorists target civilians, their success is almost assured." )
The Fence Round Palestine
A scheme for a barbed-wire "wall," suggested by Sir Charles Tegart, adviser to the Palestine Government on suppressing terrorism, is being undertaken at a cost of L90,000 to prevent the bands fleeing from justice, smuggling arms, or entering for terrorism and agitation across the frontiers between Palestine and Syria, Trans-Jordan, and the Lebanon, (wrote the Jerusalem correspondent in The Times yesterday). Terrorism in Palestine has been difficult to isolate and control because these frontiers, practically undefended and in un-inhabited and rough terrain, have proved easy bases for troublemakers. When pursued by police and military the bands, and especially their leaders, have been able to slip over the borders, often carrying away cattle and other booty, and have thus effectively escaped capture. Arms and other warlike equipment unprocurable in Palestine have been easily secured from among the people in Syria and Trans-Jordan and smuggled into Palestine, along with many cheaply hired gunmen. The stopping of these practices has become an essential to the restoration of order in the British Mandated territory.
Efforts made by the Palestine Government to obtain the cooperation of the French Mandatory authorities in Syria in preventing the use of that country as a base have been unsuccessful. The French have given over much of the detail of government to the Syrian and Lebanese States, whose sympathy with the Palestine Arab nationalists prevents them from doing anything. Furthermore, the French point out that when they were having troubles in Syria in 1925 and 1926, the British professed inability to prevent the flight of Syrian nationalists into Palestine and Trans-Jordan. Something might be done to bludgeon the Syrians into cooperation by stopping all trade with them, but it would not improve international relations nor solve the problem of the undefended frontiers. For this reason Sir Charles Tegart advised the erection of some physical barrier on the frontier which would make guarding it more practicable. Unfortunately the Northern Frontier road, built close to the international boundary in very rugged country at no small expense, has not been very helpful as it could not be patrolled at night without marauding bands knowing from the lights of the cars just where they were and timing their passage accordingly. A stout physical barrier difficult of penetration was, therefore the last resort. Contracts for Sir Charles Tegart's scheme have been let to Solel Boneh, Limited, of Haifa.
50 Miles of Barbed Wire
The specifications call for a barbed wire fence extending for about 50 miles from the coastal road at Ras en-Nakura eastwards to Nebi Yusha (Metullah) and curving down to the Huleh marshes. Jewish colonies at that point form a barrier, but the fence resumes at Rosh Pina and extends to Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee, which in turn will be patrolled by motor-launches. South of the Sea of Galilee a two-and-a-half miles stretch as far as the mouth of the Yarmuk River will be fenced. Plans are being made for obstructing the passage of the Jordan River between Palestine and Trans-Jordan at its 70 fords.
The fence is to vary in thickness according to local conditions. The single bay type will consist of two parallel barbed wire fences some 6 ft. high and 5 ft. apart, each fence consisting of iron posts with 2 in. mesh rabbit wire at the bottom surmounted by barbed wire, and the space between the two fences not only crisscrossed with barbed wire but also filled with loose masses of tangled wire below. This in itself would form a barrier difficult to pass. But in some places there will be three parallel fences, the two outer bays being as elaborately wired as that mentioned above. The fence will be guarded from the seven police posts now placed along the frontier road, which will be made easier to defend than at present, and supplemented by pillboxes armed with Lewis guns at places where deep wadis or customary tracks cross the frontier. Searchlights on the police posts and pillboxes will be able to keep most of the defence line under observation at night. As the strength of the fence when tested by Sappers and specially equipped troops was such that they could not get through in less than 20 minutes even by daylight, the additional precaution of patrolling the fence at 10-minute intervals with police cars equipped with searchlights will doubtless be enough to protect those parts out of observation of the police posts.
The 70 fords of the Jordan River by which terrorists and contraband have crossed to and from Trans-Jordan as easily as the peasantry and Ghor Arabs for many generations present another type of problem. Thirty-five of the fords can be watched effectively from high ground near by. The remainder will be rendered impassable by fences on the banks, supplemented by submerged wiring which will serve the same purpose as the wooden stakes used by the ancient Britons and Romans. The erection of this formidable barrier, which is quickly becoming known as Tegart's Wall, is unquestionably a necessity in present conditions, just as Hadrian's Wall in the past, concludes the Times correspondent. But if the other experiments being made in Palestine are to be permanent, the necessity for such wartime precautions must be removed by so just a settlement of the problems of the country that her frontiers will be guarded by the mutual good will and confidence of herself and her neighbours. It would be a tragedy if the future State or States could only exist behind barbed wire entanglements.
Removed from the politics of Beirut and neglected by the central government, southern Lebanon had remained an economic extension of northern Palestine, despite the official border demarcation. But the absence of governmental control also created a power vacuum, quickly filled by Arab irregulars once the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 began in Palestine. Arab bands were recruited, based, armed, and trained in south Lebanon, from where they periodically crossed the border and struck southward against Jewish settlements.
The military consequences of the border's placement in the early 1920s thus became clear in the late 1930s. Debate about the establishment of the 1923 border had reflected hydrologic, economic, great power and religious interests. In terms of security, however, "northern Palestine was penetrable almost everywhere."(5) In an attempt to seal the border against incursions from the north, the British authorized the construction of double and triple barbed-wire fences running the length of the Palestine-Lebanon border in May and June 1938. "Tegart's Wall," named for Sir Charles Tegart, security advisor to the Palestine government, promptly incurred the wrath of local inhabitants on both sides of the border, since it bisected pastures and private property. A barrier to the legal and illegal trade upon which much of the border region's population depended, the wall suffered continuous attack from both sides. The British struggled to keep the fence more or less intact; but with the termination of the rebellion in 1939, the wall was rapidly dismantled. (6) The mandatory powers used their soldiers and gendarmes to control continued cross-border traffic, but smugglers, particularly of guns and illegal Jewish immigrants, still traversed the line at will.
Last update - 02:50 09/01/2004
The return of the fence
By Gideon Biger
The separation fence now under construction is not the first fence that was built in this country with the aim of preventing the passage of terrorists who seek to attack the civilian population. A similar fence was built by the British Mandate authorities in the 1930s, in an effort to prevent the infiltration of terrorist gangs and squads in the north of the country. A glance at the history of that fence seems to show that history is repeating itself.
In 1936, the Arab Revolt erupted in Palestine. Initially directed against the Yishuv - the pre-1948 Jewish community in the country - it subsequently targeted the British administration as well.
In the first stage, events were concentrated largely in the center of the country. The power base of the Arab gangs lay in the Triangle - the area between the cities of Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm. In the second stage, after the Arabs rejected the recommendation of the Peel Commission on the partition of the country between Arabs and Jews, the Arab struggle intensified and weapons began to flow into the country, mainly from Lebanon and Syria.
In an effort to counter the infiltration of these terrorists, the Mandate authorities decided, in the summer of 1937, to fortify the country's northern border by means of an integrated system: a road that was built along the border - "the Northern Road" - from Rosh Hanikra to the area of Kibbutz Manara, and from there to the Jordan Valley; a three-meter-high fence - "the Northern Fence" - that was built along the road and to its north; and the construction of police stations known as "Taggart forts" (after the British police officer who conceived the idea, Sir Charles Taggart), which were located on dominant points of the terrain, and pillboxes, which were placed along the border, on the routes used by the terrorists.
The Northern Road was not congruent with the official border, but went through the Arab villages that lay close to the border. Because of budget problems, the fence was neither electrified nor augmented with sensors that existed at the time. Because of budgetary and security considerations, the fence did not extend across the entire border line, and, in fact, the whole of the Galilee Panhandle, including the Jewish communities of Metulla, Kfar Giladi and others, remained "outside the fence."
Large areas of farmland belonging to Arab villages also remained north of the fence, and gates were built in the fence to enable the fields to be accessed. Army and police forces that were stationed in the central police stations patrolled the fences by day and by night - the pillboxes were manned during the daytime - and prevented terrorist infiltrations.
The fence did not put an end to the Arab Revolt. Only the massive deployment of British military forces against the gangs throughout Palestine brought an end to the revolt, which began to die out shortly before 1939. The fence was dismantled during the Second World War, and the pillboxes were not manned; but the police stations are still in use today.
The fence and the attached barrier now under construction are similar in many details to the Northern Fence. However, the main difference between them is the location of the fence. The Northern Fence was built entirely within the area of Mandatory Palestine, along the border or inside it, in an area where the Mandate government had full legitimate sovereignty; whereas the present-day separation fence is located east of the 1967 Green Line, which the international community accepts as Israel's legitimate border.
Just about everyone agrees that if the fence were built along the Green Line, leaving Jewish settlements outside the fence but under full Israeli sovereignty, things would look different - and the fence, as long as needed, would be strictly for security purposes.
The present fence, then, is one whose political significance is being contested by the two sides. By means of the debate over the fence, the Palestinians want to legitimize their contention that the Green Line constitutes the western boundary of the territory that is supposed to be under their control, whereas the Israeli government is effectively trying to undermine the Green Line by creating an almost completely new one.
The writer is a professor of geography at Tel Aviv University