By Uri Avnery, Christopher Costello
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Additional info for 1948. A Soldier's Tale – The Bloody Road to Jerusalem
The Arab side rejected partition completely. They saw it as a decision on the part of foreigners to take away a large part of their land and give it to intruders. The British government, which had been administering the Mandate for Palestine following the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, committed itself to withdraw from the land by the middle of May 1948. That’s how the war began. It was an “ethnic” war: a war between two peoples, where both tried to occupy as much of the land as possible with as few of the “enemy” population as possible.
Janek Levkovitz, a refugee from Europe who knows rifles inside out, shows us how to use these guns that we never saw in training. Nobody sleeps. Saturday 3 April, 1948 Dawn departure At five o’clock the next morning we have breakfast. We stand in a long line, receive our food, devour it in no time, and return to our tents. Everything is packed, the weapons have been cleaned. Four companies are standing by. The buses arrive. We get in. Our orders are: no singing! Don’t make any noise. Keep your weapons out of sight.
This time we are quiet. Very quiet. No singing. A few of us hum a melancholy soldier’s tune that reflects our mood. Each of us is wondering: is my name on the list? Or must I take my leave from my friends? I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to my parents or girlfriend. All leave has been canceled. We will have to be ready – as soon as the command arrives – to depart within twenty minutes. In the late afternoon we return to camp. We have hardly had time to change our clothes when there is another roll call.