Monty and the Mandate in Palestine

With a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as far away as ever, James Barker looks back to Britain’s occupation of the region and the efforts made by the future Viscount Montgomery to impose peace on its warring peoples.

Bernard Law Montgomery wearing his beret with two cap badges.

Israel’s recent attempt to bludgeon Hamas into submission recalls events 70 years ago when the British, who ruled Palestine under the terms of a League of Nations Mandate, committed over 20,000 professional soldiers to destroy another Palestinian Arab guerrilla army. Ever since the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 committed Britain to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the majority of its population regarded the creation of an alien state as an outrage to be resisted. After spasmodic outbursts of violence directed against established Jewish communities in Palestine, in April 1936 the Arabs rose up against the British, who until then had escaped their wrath.

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