Hadassah medical convoy massacre

Hadassah medical convoy massacre

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The '''Hadassah medical convoy massacre''' took place on April 13, 1948, when a convoy, escorted by [[Haganah]] militia, bringing medical and fortification supplies and personnel to [[Hadassah Hospital]] on [[Mount Scopus]] was ambushed by [[Arab]] forces. The attackers killed 79 [[Jewish]] residents of the [[British Mandate of Palestine]], mostly [[physicians|doctors]] and [[nurses]], in the attack. ==Mount Scopus blockade== In 1948, following the [[United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine|UN Partition Plan]] and anticipating [[Declaration of Independence (Israel)|Israel's declaration of independence]], Arab troops blocked access to Hadassah Hospital and the [[Hebrew University]] campus on [[Mount Scopus]], [[Jerusalem]]. The only access was via a narrow road, a mile and a half long passing through the Arab neighbourhood of [[Sheikh Jarrah]]. The Haganah had used Mount Scopus as an outpost and a base for a raid on the village of [[Wadi al-Joz]] on February 26, as part of the struggle to defend convoys and transportation in north Jerusalem. On March 2, the operator at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem received 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. 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". Arab sniper fire on vehicles moving along the access route became a regular occurrence, and road mines were laid. The [[International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement|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. The British commander of Jerusalem assured the Jews that the road was safe. For the past month, a tacit truce had been in place and the passage of convoys had taken place without serious incident. ==The attack== [[File:PikiWiki Israel 12177 hadassah convoy memorial.jpg|thumb|left|250px|hadassah convoy memorial in hadassah university hospital, mt. scopus]] On April 13, a convoy of two ambulances, two buses, and two Haganah escort cars set off for the hospital in the early morning. At approximately 9:45 A.M., the leading vehicle was hit by a mine, and the convoy came under attack by [[Arab]] forces spraying machine gun fire. British forces were slow to come to the convoy's assistance. 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 Arabs. The Army unit tried to arrange a cease fire between '11 and noon', and left the scene at 2 pm returning at 3 pm with heavier weapons. It was then that the first of the buses was set on fire. Dr. [[Chaim Yassky]] was mortally wounded trying to escape from it. At 5 pm the Army 'laid down smoke', and began retrieving the survivors, by which time one bus was burnt out and a second on fire. Following the [[massacre]], Churchill oversaw the evacuation of 700 patients and staff from the hospital. Two [[Irgun]] militants injured at Deir Yassin were among the patients being transported in the convoy. On April 15, 1948, the American Consul in Jerusalem, [[Thomas C. Wasson]], reported that an "American correspondent eye witnessed removal from trucks large quantities of arms and ammuntion and speculated whether for escort or other purpose." On April 17, 1948, he wrote "queried as to whether convoy included armoured cars, Haganah guards, arms and ammunition in addition to doctors, nurses and patients, Kohn [of the Jewish Agency] replied in affirmative saying it was necessary to protect convoy." ==Casualties== In the attack, 79 people were killed by gunfire or were burnt when their vehicles were set on fire. 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). The bodies were so badly burned that only 31 were identified. The unidentified remains were buried in a mass grave in [[Sanhedria]] Cemetery. Twenty-two victims were declared missing. The family of one victim said it had evidence that some of the dead were buried in a [[Muslim]] cemetery near the [[Lions' Gate]]. 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== The day after the attack, several thousand [[Orthodox Jews]] demonstrated in the [[Jewish Quarter (Jerusalem)|Jewish Quarter]], demanding a "cease fire". In a statement they claimed that the demonstration was broken up by the [[Haganah]]. [[File:PikiWiki Israel 12178 hadassah convoy memorial.jpg|thumb|left|250px|hadassah convoy story in hadassah universiry hospital, mt. scopus]] After the attack, no convoys were able to reach the hospital due to continued attacks on the road,{{Citation needed|date=February 2008}} 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 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 [[United Nations]] 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]] [[Allies of 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 60th anniversary of the massacre, the city of Jerusalem named a street in honor of Dr. Yassky, who led the ill-fated convoy. ==External links== {{Commons cat}} * [http://www.hadassah.org.il/English/Eng_MainNavBar/About/Medical+Center+Campuses/ Hadassah Medical Center website] * Re-enactment of the attack in the film [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_zeR9k4lkI House on the Hill] ==See also== * [[1947-1948 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine]] * [[List of massacres in Israel]] * [[Killings and massacres during the 1948 Palestine War]] * [[Convoy of 35]] {{coord missing|Palestine}} {{DEFAULTSORT:Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre}}