This one, detailed in a page chapter titled “Lydda, ,” concerns an alleged massacre of Palestinian Arabs that preceded an act of. chapter titled “Lydda, ,” concerns an alleged massacre of Palestinian Arabs another “massacre,” the one in April at the Arab village of Deir Yassin. Lydda, HOW DID ZIONISM ARRIVE IN THE VALLEY OF LYDDA? JUST AS IT. ARRIVED in some of Palestine’s other valleys and plains. In the autumn of.
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His most recent book is The War on Error Zionism carries out a massacre in the city of Lydda. The Times was hardly alone.
Jeffrey Goldberg likewise surfaced alongside Shavit both on Charlie Rose and at campus whistle stops. And the sins in question? There, it ran under an expanded title: Was pydda covered up? Perhaps my suspicion was stoked by the fact that, time and again over the decades, Lyda soldiers have stood accused of just such wanton killing when in fact they were doing what every soldier is trained to do: When such charges are made today, they tend to be subjected to rigorous investigation.
Shavit relies largely on his interviews, conducted those many years ago. But it did occur to me that these same protagonists may have told their stories to others. And, with a bit of research, I discovered that they had.
Eldad Harouvi, director of the archives, who expertly guided me through the collection. Especially valuable is the uncut footage filmed by Uri Goldstein in preparing a documentary on the Yiftah brigade: The same museum also holds transcripts of relevant interviews archived in 19948 Yigal Allon Museum at Kibbutz Ginosar.
Some of the testimony in the archives echoes the account given by Shavit. But there are major inconsistencies; not only are these numerous, but they form a pattern. In what follows, I invite you, the reader, to detect that pattern on your own. Remember that the evidence derives largely from testimony given by the same people whom Shavit interviewed only a few years later.
I have supplemented it with lydad oral testimony by Israeli soldiers whom Shavit should have interviewed, if he had wanted to be thorough. In comparing accounts of a battle, however, sober details make all the difference.
‘Thanks for doing Zionism’s filthy work’: A response to Ari Shavit
First, recall the overarching framework. Now Israel battled not only local Arab irregulars but also Arab armies, first and foremost the Transjordanian Arab Legion, deployed in Jerusalem and just east of Jewish towns and settlements on the coastal plain. The ludda was meant to open a broad corridor to Jerusalem, which was in danger of being severed from the Jewish state. Lydda, along the route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, was an Arab city of some 20, swollen by July to about twice that size by an influx of refugees from Jaffa and neighboring villages already occupied by Israeli forces.
The 5th Infantry Company of the Transjordanian Arab Legion approximately soldiers was deployed in the city, supported by many more local irregulars lydd had been making months-long preparations for battle. On July 11, Israeli troops under the command of Moshe 148 put Lydda and Ramleh in a state of shock with a guns-ablaze dash skirting both towns.
But the city was not yet subdued.
That evening, the 3rd Battalion of the Yiftah brigade moved into southern approaches to the city, took the two landmarks of the Great Mosque and the Church of St. George, and ordered the population to report there. Soon both places of worship, but especially the Great Mosque, were crammed full of men, women, and children. After a brief while, the women and children were sent home. Still, this left most of the city to be taken, and there were only about Israeli soldiers to take and hold it.
By the next day, July 12, as Israeli forces were strengthening their hold on the city, two or three armored vehicles of the Arab Legion appeared on the northern edge and began firing in all directions. This encouraged an eruption of sniping and grenade-throwing at Israeli troops from upper stories and rooftops within the town, and from a second, small mosque only a few hundred meters from the armored-vehicle incursion.
Israeli commanders feared a counter-attack by the Legion in coordination with the armed irregulars still at large in the city. The order came down to suppress the incipient uprising with withering fire.
The Great Mosque and the church were unaffected, but Israeli forces struck the small mosque with an antitank missile. After a half-hour of intense fire, the battle died down.
Overnight, the Arab Legion withdrew from the police station, ending any prospect of an Arab counterattack. The next day, the Israeli military governor reached an agreement with local notables that the civilian population would depart from Lydda and move eastward.
Israeli soldiers, acting under orders, also encouraged their departure. Within a few hours, a stream of refugees made its way to the east, emptying the city. These passages lead the reader in a single direction: Because Shavit breaks up his telling of events with flashbacks, his narrative is choppy.
Below, I have reassembled its key passages to tell his story in chronological order and in his own words, italicizing some passages for emphasis.
In the early evening [of July 11], the two 3rd Regiment [should be: Battalion] platoons [of the Yiftah brigade] are able to penetrate Lydda. Within hours, their soldiers hold key positions in city center and confine thousands of civilians in the Great Mosque, the small mosqueand St. By eveningZionism has taken the city of Lydda. The small mosque came under Israeli control on the first day, and it was among the places in which Israeli soldiers detained Arab civilians.
There they would have been disarmed and placed under guard. In the city itself, they had not yet penetrated. George parts of a single complex on the southern edge of the city arrived unarmed, and Israeli soldiers put them under guard. But the small mosque, according to Gutman, was not a place where Israeli soldiers concentrated local inhabitants. The interviewer, trying to set the scene for later events at the small mosque, wanted first to establish its status.
This firing into the [small] mosque was after grenades were thrown from there? And from there they threw on the guys—who moved in formation of twos and threes—began to throw grenades on them.
They detained people there, so how did they have grenades and all that? There were two mosques. In the small mosque, which was off on the side, from inside the courtyard they began to throw [grenades].
On the British map embedded below and the high-altitude and low-altitude aerial photos found alongside, all showing pre-war Lydda, the area of the Great Mosque and the Church of St. In the second key lyxdaShavit explains what caused things to go wrong the next day, July Two Jordanian armored vehicles enter the conquered lyddda in error, setting off a new wave of violence.
The Jordanian army is miles to the eastand the two vehicles have no military significance, but. When Israeli forces entered Lydda, it is where the remaining Arab Legion contingent, reinforced by local police and foreign volunteers, barricaded itself.
That is, there was a feeling that there was a serious force there. They laid down heavy fire and there was a feeling of war. This was precisely the context in which the Israeli commanders interpreted the sudden appearance of the Transjordanian armored vehicles.
As Gutman wrote a few months after the events:. And lyeda all, the police station was in the hands of the enemy. This was a great fortress, overlooking all of Lydda, from which it was possible to break into the city. It was something awful. The armored vehicles thus fit into a larger military context. In that context, the Arab Legion force in the police station remained a major concern.
Even after the armored vehicles were lysda, Gutman did not believe the battle was over: The sturdy police building held by the enemy fighting force encouraged the city.
This was a serious military force with great firepower. We hesitated to confront lyddda. So we decided to rain fire on it all night, to break the morale of the besieged. During the night, 11948 offensive was launched, but without attempting to storm and take the station.
The entire city shook from the booms of the shooting, and it sometimes seemed that lydva was being destroyed to its foundation. Finally, ldda Arab Legionnaires ran out of ammunition and food and lost radio contact with their HQ.
So they slipped away. We could have defeated them only with heavy weapons, but in those hours, such weapons were only in units fighting on the eastern front.
In retrospect, the threat posed by the Arab Legion forces might seem insubstantial; but only in retrospect. There is no sign of the Arab Legion.
They were dumbstruck and despairing.
Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle – Wikipedia
I learned from this lydd the city, and they, too, had still pinned their hopes on the police station. They were sure that with its help, they would still strike at the Jewish army. I added for emphasis: Depression was etched on their faces. As though their wings had been clipped. They said not a ,ydda they sat dumbstruck, and hung their heads. Amazingly, both in his book and in the version published in the New Yorker19448 makes not a single mention of the police lydd or of the battle surrounding it.
It seems improbable, but only Shavit knows the answer. In a third passageShavit sets the scene for the mosque massacre as a revenge killing, done outside the chain of command and exceeding any calculation of military necessity:. An agitated young soldier arrives [at the church], saying that grenades are being thrown at his comrades from the small mosque.
He suggests shooting at any house from which shots are fired, shooting into every windowshooting at anyone suspected of being part of the mutiny.