1947 Aden riots

1947 Aden riots

1947 Aden riots
Location Aden, Aden Protectorate
Date December 2-3, 1947
Target Jews of Aden
Attack type
Deaths 82 Jews killed[1]
Non-fatal injuries
76 injured[1]
Perpetrators Arab Muslim mob, Aden Protectorate Levies

The 1947 Aden riots[1] was one of the most violent attacks on Mizrahi Jewish communities in the Middle East in the modern times, resulting in at least 82 Jews murdered and a wide scale devastation of local Jewish community of Aden.

The riots also claimed the lives of 33 Arabs, 4 Muslim Indians and one Somali.[2]

The riots were a significant embarrassment for the British government, particularly given that the British-raised Aden Protectorate Levies were blamed for causing many unnecessary deaths.[3]


By the mid-20th century, Aden had a community of several thousand Jews. In the 1930s, there were rare, religiously motivated outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence and a relatively small riot in 1932. In the 1940s, visits of Palestinian Arabs to Aden and expressions of Anti-Jewish sentiments became common.[1] Adenese educated Arab population had become exposed to Egyptian newspapers, as well as radio broadcasts of "Voice of the Arabs" from Cairo, which incited political awareness and prepared the grounds for the anti-Jewish massacre of November 1947 and later the 1967 expulsion of the British.[1]

The riots

Following November 29, 1947, vote by the UN on partition of Mandatory Palestine, wide scale protests took place across the Arab countries and communities, with Aden being no exception. On December 2nd, the Arabs of Aden proclaimed a comprehensive three-day solidarity strike.[1] Shortly after their beginning, the protests in Aden erupted into a "shameful outbreak of violence" against the Jews.[1] According to the British Governor of the Colony of Aden, Sir Reginald Champion, the rioting after 4 December was triggered by "alleged hostile Jewish activity and killing of an Indian Moslem doctor and a Levy almost certainly by a Jewish sniper of 4th December."[4]

According to a contemporary news account, the rioting began on December 2, when an Arab crowd converged on the Jewish quarter in Aden's old town. Jewish shops were looted and burned. The rioting resumed the following day, and British army units from the Suez Canal Zone and navy forces were brought in to restore order.[5] The Selim Girl's School in 1929 which was located next to King George V Jewish Boys School and was also gutted in the 1947 riots.

Overall 82 Jews were killed (including 6 unidentified bodies, assumed to be Jews) and 76 wounded.[1] In Crater, 106 Jewish-owned shops were completely looted and 8 more were partially looted (out of total 170), while the only 2 Jewish schools were burnt and some 30 houses, while almost all private Jewish-owned cars were burnt.[1] in Shaykh Uthman, 61 houses were damaged and looted, 12 more houses were burnt; 5 shops, 1 school and 1 synagogue, as well as Jewish-owned distillery were burnt as well.[1]

A subsequent British commission of inquiry found that "trigger happy" firing by Aden Protectorate Levies had resulted in unnecessary casualties of 82 Jews and 38 Arabs. Sir Harry Trusted, who was sent to Aden as Commissioner to investigate the riots, recommended that British troops be permanently stationed there.[6]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ahroni, R. The Jews of the British Crown Colony of Aden: History, Culture, and Ethnic Relations. Brill, 1994: P210-11.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Parfitt 1996.
  4. ^ Parfitt 1996, p. 167.
  5. ^ "Rioting in Yemen". The Age. Reuters. 8 December 1947. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Inquiry into Aden Riots". The Glasgow Herald. 23 September 1948. Retrieved 28 December 2013.