Between 1931 and 1936 the Jewish population of Palestine more than doubled from 175,000 to 370,000 people, from 17% to 27% of the total population. It caused a significant deterioration in relations between Palestinian Arabs and Jews. Jewish immigration peaked in 1935: between 1933 and 1936 more than 164,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine.
The dissent in Palestine was triggered also by the discovery in October 1935 at the port of Jaffa of a large arms shipment destined for the Haganah, sparking Arab fears of a Jewish military takeover of Palestine.
The Arab uprising began in 1936 and continued throughout 1938. Arab rebels were engaged in a campaign of vandalizing trees planted by Jewish farmers and destroying British-constructed rail lines.
In July 1938, the British garrison was strengthened from Egypt, and in September it was further reinforced from England. In October the Old City of Jerusalem, which had become a rebel stronghold, was reoccupied by the troops.
The main form of collective punishment employed by the British forces was the destruction of property. The biggest single act of destruction occurred in Jaffa on 16 June 1936, when large gelignite charges were used to cut long pathways through the old city, destroying 220–240 buildings and rendering up to 6,000 Arabs homeless.
By the end of 1938, a semblance of order had been restored in the towns, but terrorism continued until the outbreak of the Second World War.
According to official British figures, the army and police killed more than 2,000 Arabs in combat, 108 were hanged, and 961 died because of what they described as "gang and terrorist activities". In an analysis of the British statistics, Walid Khalidi estimates 19,792 casualties for the Arabs, with 5,032 dead: 3,832 killed by the British and 1,200 dead because of "terrorism", and 14,760 wounded. Over ten percent of the adult male Palestinian Arab population between 20 and 60 was killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled. Estimates of the number of Palestinian Jews killed range from 91 to several hundred.