Results of Mount Scopus demilitarized zone inspection (28/30 April 1953) – UNTSO letter to the SecGen


I have the honour to communicate to you for transmission to the President of the Security Council the attached report on the results of the inspection held in the demilitarized zone of Mount Scopus on 28/30 April 1953.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Yours respectfully,

W.E. Riley

Lieut. General, USMC Ret.

Chief of Staff




ON 28/30 APRIL 1953

1. In view of the letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan, dated 16 December 1952, in which he demanded that the United Nations Organization which “is responsible for the general management and peaceful running of the Mount Scopus demilitarized zone carries out a thorough search of the area”, and in view of additional letters addressed to the Chief of Staff by the Senior Member of the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom Delegation to the Jordan-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission on the same subject, I have the honour to report the results of the inspection which was held on 28/30 April 1953.

2. In each of the above-mentioned communications, the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom representatives had made additional requests concerning the way in which the search should be carried out. These additional requests were not in accord with the terms of the Mount Scopus Agreement. It was not until 13 March 1953 that the Senior Jordan Representative to the Jordan-Israel Mixed Armistice Commission requested that an inspection he made as the Chief of Staff saw fit. He further stated that he was primarily interested in a report on the results of the investigation.

3. Under the terms of the Agreement entered into by the parties on 7 July 1948 (see Annex), the Mount Scopus area is divided into three sections: (1) the “Jewish section”, (2) the Arab village of Issawiya, and (3) the Augusta Victoria Hospital area.

4. In the “Jewish section” which, according to the 7 July 1948 Agreement, includes the Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University, the investigating team consisting of two United Nations observers checked the number of Israeli personnel and found that it was not in excess of that authorized by the 7 July 1948 Agreement. An inspection of the area was also made for the purpose of determining whether or not the Israeli police had in their possession arms or ammunition in excess of, or of a type different from those authorized in November 1948.

5. The investigating team moved freely throughout the “Jewish section” and received the co-operation and assistance of the Israeli police inspector in charge of the Israeli detachment. The only grounds which it did not enter were those suspected to be mined. It entered all the buildings, and all rooms, with the exception of six located in the Ratnoff building, were inspected. The six rooms in question could not be opened due to lack of keys. No arms or ammunition were found, in excess of those which were authorized in 1948.

6, With reference to the grounds suspected to be mined, which include the British Memorial War Cemetery, I invite your attention to paragraph 38 of my last report to the Security Council dated 30 October 1952 (S/2833) in which it is stated that the Israelis were “ready to co-operate with my representative for the detection and destruction of mines which may remain in the area”.

7. In order to effect the removal or destruction of the suspected mines in the “Jewish section”, I requested the Jordan representative to authorize a demining team of ten Israeli soldiers to proceed to Mount Scopus. The Jordan representative refused to agree and offered in turn a demining team from Jordan. To date no demining team has proceeded to Mount Scopus.

8. As to the second section of the demilitarized area, Issawiya village, a check was made by the investigating team with regard to the population of that village: According to paragraph 4 of the 7 July 1948 Agreement, “the United Nations undertakes to limit the population on Mount Scopus to those individuals needed for its operation, plus the present population of the village of Issawiya”.

9. The interpretation of the words “present population of the village of Issawiya” has given rise to difficulties. No census was taken either before or after the 7 July Agreement was signed (two days later, the first truce arranged under United Nations auspices was to come to an end and hostilities were resumed – they were not resumed on Mount Scopus, thanks to the Agreement). As a matter of fact the population of Issawiya – estimated at 650 in the Gazetteer published in 1940 by the Mandate authorities and reported to have reached 950 in May 1948 sought refuge in safer places at the end of May or beginning of June 1948, when clashes increased on Mount Scopus. Consequently, nobody was probably residing in the village when the 7 July Agreement was signed, though male inhabitants were said to be continuously visiting it, especially at night, to check their properties. According to the Government of Israel, the words “present population of the village of Issawiya” means the inhabitants who were allowed to re-enter the village shortly after the signing of the Agreement, viz., 150. Whether this figure represented the total number of inhabitants who were permitted to re-enter, or male inhabitants, who were allowed to take their families with them, has been a moot point. When Israel representatives have brought it up, I have taken the position that, in the absence of any authoritative contemporary record proving that the first alternative was right, I accepted the second alternative. One hundred and fifty male inhabitants, plus their families, brings the population of Issawiya to a figure closer to that of May 1948.

10. The investigating team has reported that the inhabitants of Issawiya are today 1,000. Many of the villagers work their farms, while others are employed in. the Old City of Jerusalem. They have not been carried on the rolls of UNRWA for relief. A decision to reduce their number would result in increasing the number of Arab refugees.

11. According to the 7 July 1948 Agreement, “the Arab civilian police population at Augusta Victoria shall not exceed a total of 40”. The investigating team has reported that the present Arab police population is considerably below the authorized total.

12. Inspection of the area discloses flaunter that a hospital is being operated at Augusta Victoria by UNRWA for the care of Arab refugees. It has a staff of about 290, 90 per cent of whom are refugees. The daily average of beds occupied is 316. Although the Agreement of 7 July 1948 would preclude the operation of the hospital, it is in fact performing a most valuable service for Arab refugees in the Jerusalem area, particularly in view of the shortage of badly needed medical services.

W.E. Riley

Lieut. General, USMC Ret.

Chief of Staff



It is hereby jointly agreed that

1. The area as delineated on the attached map will be assigned to United Nations protection until hostilities cease or a new agreement is entered upon. It shall include the areas designated as Hadassah Hospital, Hebrew University, Augusta Victoria and the Arab village of Issawiya, The United Nations agrees to become a signatory to this document by representation through the Senior Observer in the Jerusalem area and the Chairman of the Truce Commission. It therefore accepts responsibility for the security of this area as described herewith/

2. There shall be a no-man’s-land location extending for approximately 200 yards along the main road between the Augusta Victoria and Hebrew University buildings, with suitable check-posts established at each end. Other check-posts will be established on the perimeter of the zone under protection, and all parties agree that access desired should be sought along the main road via the United Nations check-posts as established by the United Nations Commander. All other attempts at entry will be considered as unlawful invasion and treated accordingly.

3. In their respective areas armed Arab and Jewish civilian police will be placed on duty under the United Nations Commander. The United Nations flag will fly on the main buildings. All military personnel of both sides will be withdrawn this day, together with their equipment and such other supplies as are not required by the United Nations Commander.

4. The United Nations will arrange that both parties receive adequate supplies of food and water. Replacements of necessary personnel in residence on Mount Scopus will be scheduled by the United Nations Commander. Visits of properly accredited individuals will also be arranged by the United Nations Commander in consultation with each party in respect of its area. The United Nations undertakes to limit the population on Mount Scopus to those individuals needed for its operation, plus the present population of the village of Issawiya. No additions will be made to the village population except by agreement of both parties. The initial personnel roster of civilian police in the Jewish section shall not exceed a total of 85. The civilian personnel attached thereto shall not exceed a total of 33. The Arab civilian police population at Augusta Victoria shall not exceed a total of 40.

5. It is hereby agreed by both parties that the area is not to be used as a base for military operations, nor will it be attacked or unlawfully entered upon.

6. In the event that the Arab Legion withdraws from the area, the United Nations Commander is to be given sufficient advanced notice in writing in order that satisfactory arrangements may be made to substitute for this protocol another agreement.



Arab Military Commander for…


Jewish Military Commander, for Provisional Government, State of Israel


Chairman, Truce Commission, United Nations


Senior Observer, Mediator’s Jerusalem Group, United Nations.


7th of July 1948


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