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April 15, 1948 GOC British Troops in Palestine to President of Zion University

                                                                                                                                                                Mt Scopus Hadassah Hospital Massacre April 13, 194815 April, 1948

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your letter of today’s date, enclosing copies of correspondence which you have sent to the Brigadier.

I can assure you that I myself regret very deeply the tragic happenings at Sheikh Jarrah on 13 April.

I should however like to say that the suggestions that the troops were slow in helping to extract your fellow countrymen who were ambushed is deeply resented by me. It is suggested that nothing was done between the hours of 0945 in the morning and the later afternoon, but this is not correct. I myself motored through the area, passed under the fire of an automatic weapon in a Jewish armored car at 0945 on my way to kalandia and I was followed by a considerable convoy of vehicles which had hitherto remained stationary at the Jerusalem side of the trouble. I assumed therefore that the situation was clearing up and my inference at the time was that it would have cleared much quicker had the Jewish armored car stopped firing as many of the vehicles had tuned round and escaped and the damaged ones did not appear to be being furthered molested.

I was therefore surprise when I returned at 4:30 p.m. to find heavy firing still in progress on the spot and my own car, which had been back to barracks and returned again to meet me, had been pierced by a bullet which broke the windscreen and narrowly missed the driver’s head. On arrival once more on the spot, I found that the Brigadier had got the matter in hand and had persuaded the Arabs to stop firing, but had not been able to achieve this until after he had been forced to fire heavily upon them and kill 15.

By the action of the Brigadier and the Highland Light Infantry, I understand that 28 Jews were saved, although indeed the loss of life was heavy. The rescue of these 28 Jews was accomplished with the loss of life of 2 British soldiers killed and 3 wounded.

Considerable efforts have been made for some weeks, which I am grateful to see from your letter are appreciated, to keep the Sheikh Jarrah area quiet, but there is no doubt whatever in my mind that this outrage on Tuesday was a direct reprisal for the action of the IZL and the Stern at Deir Yassin, and is an example of the tragic state to which this country is being brought by the criminal reprisals carried out by both sides. I grudge more than I can say, the loss of life and especially the casualties which the British soldiers are incurring in their efforts at this time impartially to save lives and ‘quieten’ disturbances on both sides, while they themselves are actually in the process of withdrawing from the country. With their efforts vilified, as they are daily in the Post, their task does not become easier.

As I have stated above, I am extremely distressed at these events and also at the death of your eminent hospital director. British troops as long as we remain in Palestine will do their best to prevent such outrages when they occur in the areas which we occupy, but I cannot accept the accusation that in this particular instance they were dilatory and inefficient. Such a suggestion only renders our thankless task still harder to perform in future.”

Source: Davis, Eli. Saga of a Siege. P 120-121.

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