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The city of Jaffa in the 1930s **

Crates of Jaffa oranges being ferried to a waiting freighter for export, circa 1930

The city of Jaffa in the 1930s – مدينة يافا في ثلاثينيات القرن الماضي  העיר יפו בשנות השלושים

Note the export of oranges in Jaffa Port.

The British Mandate of Palestine build a new customs house at the port and in the beginning of 1930’s and expand the port southwards with a new breakwater.

The Jaffa Orange

This variety of oranges takes its name from the city of Jaffa where it was first produced for export. The orange was the primary citrus export for the city of Jaffa.  The Jaffa orange (also known as shamouti) became “the symbol of the Zionist enterprise and the state of Israel”.

The cultivation of the orange, introduced by the Arabs in the mid-19th century, has developed to a very great extent in consequence of that settlement. There is no doubt that the pitch of perfection to which the technique of plantation and cultivation of the orange and grapefruit have been brought in Palestine is due to the scientific methods of the Jewish agriculturist. [Baram, Uzi; Carroll, Lynda (2000). Uzi Baram, Lynda Carroll (eds.). A historical archaeology of the Ottoman Empire: breaking new ground]

Partnerships in growing and exporting these oranges was an example of Arab-Jewish cooperation despite rising political tensions.

At the end of 1928, Jews owned 30,000 dunams of the country’s 60,000 dunams of orange orchards. Whereas before World War I, the price of a dunam of land in a fruitful orange grove was 50-75 pounds sterling, by 1929, the same groves were selling for 150-200 pounds sterling.

By 1939, Jewish-owned and Arab-owned orange orchards in Palestine covered 75,000 acres (300 km2), employed over 100,000 workers, and their produce was a primary export through the Port of Jaffa. 

The “Facelift” of the Old City of Jaffa

The 1936–39 Arab revolt in British Palestine inflicted great economic and infrastructural damage on Jaffa. It began on 19 April 1936 with a riot remembered as “the Bloody Day in Jaffa”, which ended with 9 Jews killed and scores injured. The Arab leadership declared a general strike, which began in the Jaffa Port, a place that had already become a symbol of Arab resistance. The Old City of Jaffa, with its maze of homes, winding alleyways and underground sewer system, provided an ideal escape route for the rioters fleeing the British army.

In May 1936, municipal services were cut off, the old city was barricaded, and access roads were covered with glass shards and nails. In June 1936, British bombers dropped boxes of leaflets in Arabic requesting the inhabitants to evacuate that same day. On the evening of 17 June 1936, 1500 British soldiers entered Jaffa and a British warship sealed off escape routes by sea. The British Royal Engineers blew up homes from east to west (Operation Anchor), leaving an open strip that cut through the heart of the city from end to end. On 29 June, security forces implemented another stage of the plan, carving a swath from north to south. The mandatory authorities claimed the operation was part of a “facelift” of the old city.

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