Nebi Mussa Riots in Jerusalem

On April 4, 1920, a crowd from Hebron and Nablus, associated with the annual Muslim Nebi Musa pilgrimage that had taken place two days earlier, assembled near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. ( The Nebi Musa pilgrimage commemorated the supposed carrying of Moses’ body, by a Bedouin, to a grave across the Jordan known as Nebi Musa, Moses’ shrine.)

At the Jerusalem gathering, the pilgrims’ emotions were skillfully aroused by the public display of a picture of King Faisal, the declaration of his “reign in Palestine” and by an appeal to set upon the Jews. After some preliminary shop looting and the assaulting of Jews who happened to be in the area, the crowd surged through the Jaffa Gate into the heart of the Old City. Until then, the British forces remained passive.

Only once the rampaging mob was well within the walls of the Old City did they spring into action. They surrounded the Old City and with fixed bayonets prevented anyone from entering it. As a consequence, while the rioters were having a field day, Jewish defense groups were largely unable to reach their imperiled brethren. Members of the Jewish Legion (who then numbered about 400)  were confined to their barracks and the few who made their way to Jerusalem were detained by military police. The mayhem that claimed the lives of 8 Jews and ended up wounding 211 others continued for three days.

Source: The Hope: Fulfilled The Rise of Modern Israel By Leslie Stein Printed by Praeger March 2003 pg 151