1952 Beit Jala Raid

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The Beit Jala Raid was an Israeli attack on Beit Jala, a Palestinian Christian town on the border between Jordan and Israel (today part of the Palestinian territories) on January 6, 1952. Seven Palestinian civilians were killed in the attack; one man, two women and three children.[citation needed] Based on leaflets dropped at the site it was presumed to be revenge for the rape and murder of a Jewish girl, which was believed to have been committed by infiltrators from Beit Jala.[1]


In 1949-1953, there were 99 complaints made by Israel about the infiltration of armed groups or individuals and 30 complaints of armed Jordanian units crossing into Israeli territory. Jordan complained of 5 armed groups or individuals infiltrating and 162 of armed Israeli units crossing into Jordanian territory.[2][1] One such gang was led by Muhammad Mansi and Jamil Muhammad Mujarrab, who had raped and murdered a Jewish girl in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood in February 1951.[1] Mansi was detained by the Jordanians but released and placed on surveillance.[1] The Israeli authorities passed on information that he was stockpiling explosives.[1]

On December 4, 1951, a Jewish girl who was walking home from the bus stop in the Bayit VeGan neighborhood of Jerusalem, Leah Feistinger, was raped and murdered and mutilated.[1] Her body was found hidden in a cave about a mile from the Jordan/Israel cease fire line inside Israeli territory.[3]

Major Loreaux, an investigating officer from the Mixed Armistice Commissions (MAC), the UN organization responsible for monitoring violations of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, reported to MAC chairman Commander E. H. Hutchison and Commandant G. Bouvet that the girl had been raped and murdered, and her face mutilated. Loreaux reported that he saw no evidence of Jordanian infiltration and suggested that the Israeli police investigate the murder.[4]

Israel claimed the perpetrators were Said Salah Jam'an, Jamil Muhammad Mujarrab and Muhammad Mansi, three residents of Beit Jala.[3]

Reprisal raid[edit]

On January 6, 1952, three houses in Beit Jala were rigged with explosives and blown up. According to Hutchison, the upper floor of the first house was completely destroyed. The lower part of the house, which had been built into the side of the hill, was still partially intact, with bullet holes visible in the walls and doors. The inhabitants, a twenty-three-year-old man and his wife, were killed in the blast. Only one wall was damaged in the second house. The windows were shattered and the walls were pockmarked with bullets. A mother and her four children, ranging in age from 6 to 14, were found dead in the third house. When one of the demolition charges failed the attackers used grenades.[4]

The perpetrators left leaflets in Arabic at the site which read as follows:


Major Hutchison investigated the Jordanian complaint of a violation of the General Armistice agreement at Beit Jala on behalf of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO).[4] Israel denied her involvement and J.E. Chadwick, a diplomat at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, thought it had been the work of Israeli vigilantes. Hutchison reported that the demolition charges had Israeli markings and machine-guns were used[4] Benny Morris concludes that the raid was carried out by an IDF platoon and that Western diplomats were not convinced that the Feistinger rape-murder had been carried out by infiltrators. In April 1953 the US consul general in Jerusalem wrote: "It was never shown that the act was not committed by her Israeli boy-friend".[3]


The United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation issued a condemnation to Israel for the "serious breach of the General Armistice Agreement" in the Beit Jala reprisal raid.[4] Israel denied IDF involvement in the raid, and abstained from voting while Jordan and the MAC chairman condemned Israel.[3][4] The chief of the Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb, stated that the Israelis had a psychological need to bully their weaker neighbors[3] The British Embassy in Tel Aviv called the raids "simple reprisals, designed to make Arab infiltration unpopular in the Arab villages". The ambassador compared Israeli/IDF raids with British reprisals against Egyptians in the Suez Canal area.[3]

See also[edit]