Dr Roderick Bailey, University of Oxford: Murder in Palestine? Revisiting the causes of the Acre/Akka typhoid outbreak of 1948

In 1948, an outbreak of typhoid occurred in the coastal town of Acre (Akka) in northern Palestine. This was a time when Jewish and Arab communities were in open conflict, and subsequent claims that Jewish militants had deliberately contaminated the town’s water supply have become part of major narratives of the period and are routinely presented as fact. Drawing on a range of records, including the contemporary reports of Red Cross delegates and British military personnel on hand to examine the conditions, this paper discusses the supposed evidence for deliberate contamination and how the episode has been presented publicly since.