Today in history: the battle of the Castle

Today in 1948, the Palmach forces finally conquered the Castel.

The Castel was captured by the Palmach on April 3, as part of Operation Nachshon (on which we detailed a few days ago), symbolizing a change of direction for the Jewish community in the War of Independence, and a transition from defense to attack, focusing on the occupation of the high grounds around the roads leading to isolated communities, especially Jerusalem. But The initial conquest of the Castel was not the end of the story for Abdel Qadr al-Husseini, the leader of the Arab militias in the Jerusalem area. Husseini saw the holding of the Castel, which controls the road to Jerusalem, as of utmost importance, and demanded a counterattack at all costs. In a series of attacks in the following days, the Arabs re-captured signs around the Castel, and on the 7th of the month, the Etzioni Brigade forces stationed in the Castel under the Palmach attacked massive militias. That night, a foggy night, Husseini went on a field tour with some of his aides, and accidentally reached the Palmach lines; Husseini was shot and killed, and his body was taken by the defenders. On the 8th, many Arabs from all over Jerusalem arrived at the Castel and began the largest attack untill then, in order to bring back al-Husseini (there was no certainty on the Arab side that al-Husseini had been killed). Etzioni forces were unable to withstand the pressure, and began to retreat as soon as the Palmach reinforcements arrived; but the battle was already lost, and the Palmach was forced to retreat while leaving the wounded behind (and the body of al-Husseini) In the field. The Arabs conquered the village, killed the wounded, and found the body of al-Husseini – a very severe moral blow. Most of the attackers dispersed, and some took the body for burial in Jerusalem – leaving the castle empty, and ready for a new occupation by the Palmach the next day. A total of 40 fighters were killed on the Jewish side, but the victory was critical for the continuation of the campaign in Jerusalem.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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