The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century

By Ian Speller | Go to book overview

7

QUARANTINE OPERATIONS

The Royal Navy and the Palestine Patrol

Geoffrey Till

Now the Lord said to Abraham, 'Go from your country … to the land I will show you. And I will make you a great nation'.

Genesis XII, v 1-3

I will take the children of Israel … and will bring them into their own land … and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children forever.

Ezekiel XXXVII, v 21-25


Introduction1

As part of the British effort to control the influx of Jewish refugees into Palestine after the Second World War, the Royal Navy formally instituted the 'Palestine Patrol' in October 1945, although some refugee ships were intercepted before this date. The patrol lasted until the end of the British mandate over Palestine in June 1948. Figures vary greatly, but during the period of the patrol, some sixty ships carrying rather more than 50,000 refugees sought to break through the Navy's quarantine in order to put illegal migrants ashore in Palestine covertly since this would allow them to evade the authorities and melt into the Jewish population of that troubled area. Just under 3,000 of them, in eight ships, got through. 2

For the Royal Navy, recuperating after the simple brutalities of the Second World War, this was a difficult, complicated and generally distasteful operation. It was an important part of a policy towards, and a set of circumstances that surrounded, the 'Jewish problem' that had results that continue to divide the world, fifty years afterwards. The Royal Navy's role in these events shows how it is possible to win battles but still lose the war. The Palestine Patrol needs to be considered at the three levels of war - strategic (its place in British policy) operational (seen as a Mediterranean campaign) and tactical (boarding and physical contacts).


Strategically hopeless …

After the Second World War, the British government was confronted by a host of problems at the level of grand strategy which made the future of Palestine seem

-129-

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The Royal Navy and Maritime Power in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Transition to War 13
  • 2 - Sea Control in Narrow Waters 33
  • 3 - Sea Denial, Interdiction and Diplomacy 50
  • 4 - Air Power and Evacuations 67
  • 5 - Amphibious Operations 88
  • 6 - Maritime Power and Complex Crises 108
  • 7 - Quarantine Operations 129
  • 8 - Maritime Jurisdiction and the Law of the Sea 148
  • 9 - Naval Diplomacy 164
  • 10 - Operations in a War Zone 181
  • 11 - From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement 197
  • Select Bibliography 209
  • Index 215
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