Hadassah medical convoy massacre


Hadassah medical convoy massacre

The Hadassah medical convoy massacre took place on April 13, 1948, when a civilian convoy, escorted by Haganah militia, bringing medical and fortification supplies and personnel to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was ambushed by Arab forces. Victims of Hadassah massacre to be memorialized, JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH . April 7, 2008, Jerusalem Post http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1207486207992&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ] Seventy-nine Jews, including doctors and nurses, were killed in the attack. [http://www.zionism-israel.com/his/Hadassah_convoy_Massacre.htm Hadassah Convoy Massacre ] ]

The attack is considered to be retaliation for the Deir Yassin massacre two days earlier. Ironically, two Irgun fighters injured at Deir Yassin were among the patients being transported in the convoy. [cite book | last = Morris | first = Benny | authorlink = Benny Morris | title = 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War | publisher = Yale University Press |location= New Haven, Connecticut | year = 2008 | isbn = 9780300126969]

Mount Scopus blockade

In 1948, following the UN Partition Plan and anticipating Israel's declaration of independence, access to Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem was blocked by the Arabs. The only access was via a narrow road, a mile and a half long. At 2:05 pm on March 2, 1948, the operator at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalemreceived a phone call from an Arab caller who warned that the hospital would be blown up within 90 minutes. Nothing happened that day, but the intentions of the Arabs were made clear.http://www.hadassah.org/education/content/StudyGuides/Convoy_ITAD.pdf] At a press conference on March 17, the leader of the Arab forces in Jerusalem, Abdul Kader Husseini, threatened that Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University would be captured or destroyed "if the Jews continued to use them as bases for attacks". ['Husseini Threatens Hadassah', "The Palestine Post", 18 March, 1948, p. 1.] Arab sniper fire on vehicles moving along the access route became a regular occurrence, and road mines were laid. The Red Cross had offered to put Mount Scopus under its flag on condition that the area be demilitarized, but the Haganah declined the proposal. When food and supplies at the hospital begun to dwindle, a large convoy carrying doctors and supplies set out for the besieged hospital. Although the British commander of Jerusalem assured the Jews that the road was safeFact|date=February 2007, commanders of the Jerusalem sector of the Haganah advised a postponement due to high tension in the area in the wake of the Deir Yassin massacre. However, the hospital staff decided to continue with the convoy plans.

The Attack

On April 13, a convoy of two Haganah escort cars, two ambulancesand two buses set off for the hospital in the early morning. At approximately 9:45, the leading vehicle was hit by a mine and the convoy came under attack by Arab forces spraying machine gun fire. After the buses began to leak gasoline, they were set on fire by Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs). British forces came to the convoy's assistance, but had only limited resources. One of the first men on the scene was Major Jack Churchill, who offered to evacuate members of the convoy in an APC. His offer was refused in the belief that the Haganah would come to their aid. When no relief arrived, Churchill and his 12 men provided what cover fire they could against hundreds of Arab militants. [http://www.wwiihistorymagazine.com/2005/july/col-profiles.html WWII History Magazine - Column "Profiles" July 2005 ] ] Following the massacre, Churchill oversaw the evacuation of 700 patients and staff from the hospital.

Casualties

Seventy-nine Jews were killed by gunfire during the fighting or were burnt when several vehicles were set alight. Twenty of them were women. Among the dead were Dr. Chaim Yassky, director of the hospital and Dr. Moshe Ben-David, slated to head the new medical school, (which was eventually established by the Hebrew University in the 1950s).

Many of the bodies were so badly burned they could not be identified. They were buried in a mass grave in the cemetery in Sanhedria, Jerusalem. For many years the number of casualties was thought to be 78, but recently it was confirmed that there were 79.

One British soldier died in the attack.

Aftermath

After the attack, no convoys were able to reach the hospital due to continued attacks on the roadFact|date=February 2008, and despite British assurances of assistance. The situation in the compound became grim, and the decision was made to evacuate the hospital in early May, leaving a staff of 200 to run at a reduced 50 beds. The hospital was effectively closed by the end of May, as no supplies could reach it, though a small number of doctors and students remained. In July, a deal was worked out where Mount Scopus became a UN area, with 84 Jewish policemen assigned to guard the now shuttered hospital.

In the armistice agreement with Jordan, signed on April 3, 1949, the hospital became a demilitarized Israeli enclave, with a small adjacent no-man's-land (containing a World War I Allied military cemetery under British supervision) and the rest of Mount Scopus and East Jerusalem becoming Jordanian. The Israeli government and Hadassah donors then re-founded the hospital in Israeli West Jerusalem, with the original hospital staff (Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital).

The Mt. Scopus hospital only resumed medical services after the Six-Day War.

On the sixtieth anniversary of the massacre, the city of Jerusalem named a street in honor of Dr. Chaim Yassky, who led the ill-fated convoy.

References

Further reading

* Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, "O Jerusalem!", History Book Club, 1972, ISBN 0-671-66241-4.
* Jacques de Reynier, "A Jerusalem un drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu".

External links

* [http://www.hadassah.org.il/English/Eng_MainNavBar/About/Medical+Center+Campuses/ Hadassah Medical Center website]

ee also

* 1948 Arab-Israeli war
* Convoy of 35


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