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Britain's Pacification of Palestine
The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936–1939


Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: December 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107501492

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About the Authors
  • In this complete military history of Britain's pacification of the Arab revolt in Palestine, Matthew Hughes shows how the British Army was so devastatingly effective against colonial rebellion. The Army had a long tradition of pacification to draw upon to support operations, underpinned by the creation of an emergency colonial state in Palestine. After conquering Palestine in 1917, the British established a civil Government that ruled by proclamation and, without any local legislature, the colonial authorities codified in law norms of collective punishment that the Army used in 1936. The Army used 'lawfare', emergency legislation enabled by the colonial state, to grind out the rebellion. Soldiers with support from the RAF launched kinetic operations to search and destroy rebel bands, alongside which the villagers on whom the rebels depended were subjected to curfews, fines, detention, punitive searches, demolitions and reprisals. Rebels were disorganised and unable to withstand the power of such pacification measures.

    • Will appeal to those who need a full history of the Palestinian insurgents and the counter-insurgency arrayed against them
    • New regimental archival material provides new perspectives on the Arab revolt
    • Contextualises the pacification of Palestine in the 1930s to the British colonial emergency state and other imperial pacification operations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Matthew Hughes's ground-breaking study of Britain's repression of the Arab rebellion in Palestine in the 1930s is an outstanding military history of British colonial pacification methods. It details how Britain's colonial emergency state successfully integrated draconian legal measures with the British Army's long traditions of counter-insurgency to pacify Palestine and crush a rebellion that, as Hughes proves, lacked the internal strength to counter the power of the British Empire.' Yigal Sheffy, author of British Intelligence in the Palestine Campaign, 1914–1918

    'While Europe marched to war in the late 1930s, a formative episode in the struggle for self-determination played out in Palestine. Drawing on a formidable array of sources, Matthew Hughes dissects the Arab Revolt with a keen eye for the broader political, social and legal contexts which shaped strategy. This book is a major addition to our knowledge of the British Army, colonial violence, and the modern Middle East.” Huw Bennett, author of Fighting the Mau Mau

    'Admirably suited for the specialist as well as the general reader this book provides an exhaustively researched account of the British Army's pacification of Palestine, 1936–1939. Based on Hebrew, Arabic, French and British sources, Hughes does not ignore the suffering of ordinary Palestinians as the British Army sought to suppress what he views as rural peasant-based revolt. Highly recommended.' David R. Woodward, author of The Holy Land: World War 1 in the Middle East

    '… this is one of the most important and comprehensive accounts of the Arab revolt yet to appear in print.' Roger Hardy, International Affairs

    'Meticulously researched, this book will serve as an important source of detailed information about the Arab Revolt.' Colin Shindler, Jewish Historical Studies

    'This book will be indispensable for researchers of the British Mandate in Palestine … The amount of research put into this volume is truly outstanding … and its analysis seem to be the culmination of a decade's work and provides a required reference for future researchers to follow.' Giora Goodman, Journal of Contemporary History

    '… a book sure to become the definitive account of British counterinsurgency in the Mandate.' Martin Thomas, The American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107501492
    • length: 504 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.843kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    1. Framing the Arab Revolt
    2. The emergency state in mandate Palestine
    3. Rebels and revolt
    4. From insurgency to banditry
    5. The regiments arrive
    6. Screwing down the population
    7. Intelligence and collaboration
    8. Dirty wars and extra-judicial violence
    Afterword: policy, violence, and the Arab revolt
    Appendix A: order-of-battle
    Appendix B: casualties
    Appendix C: women and violence
    Appendix D: sartorial wars
    Appendix E: dramatis personae and the Arab Higher Committee
    Appendix F: currency and wages
    Appendix G: the escapes of al-Qawuqji and Hajj Amin

  • Author

    Matthew Hughes, Brunel University
    Matthew Hughes is Chair in Military History at Brunel University.

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