Jerusalem Convoy 1948When the Jewish Agency told the UN Palestine Commission that the Jews of Jerusalem were starving because of Arab road blocks on the road from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, and that the British Government had neither offered to escort food convoys nor stipulated conditions under which escort might be provided, J. Fletcher Cooke, British Liaison with the UN Commission replied:

“It should be emphasized again that the problem is not one of food shortage in Palestine as a whole. The Government of Palestine has reported that there is food available in Palestine to maintain the necessary supplies for Jerusalem. The Problem is entirely one of the transport of this food from the ports to Jerusalem.

“it may be added that transport by rail to Jerusalem is ruled out because, even if trains succeeded in escaping Arab attacks or sabotage en route, the railway station at Jerusalem is in a predominantly Arab area, and the Arabs would not permit off-loading of food destined for the Jews. Any attempt to do this would result in a major engagement.”

“Very early in the disturbances which have occurred in Palestine since 29 November, 1947, attacks on traffic using this road were made by both Jews and Arabs. It is difficult to say who initiated these attacks, but it is fairly certain that firing action was first taken by the Jews after their vehicles had been stoned by Aras in Ramleh.

“The situation then developed into a fight for control of the road. The Arabs, no doubt in order to facilitate action by their troops, withdrew all of their own vehicles from the stretch of the road in question and were then secure in the knowledge that any civilian traffic which they cared to attack must be Jewish.”

Source: J. Fletcher Cooke, British liaison with UN commission, The Nation