By Uri Avnery, Christopher Costello
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Additional resources for 1948. A Soldier's Tale – The Bloody Road to Jerusalem
Young men and women, who didn’t sleep all last night, dance, rejoice, and sing on. Suddenly there is a moment of quiet. Shots echo through the land. A bus on the road from Netanya to Jerusalem is attacked, leaving four dead bodies on the ground. The war has begun. Everywhere the Arab youth rush to join the fighting organizations. And from Syria, from Egypt, from Iraq, and from Transjordan,7 volunteers come streaming into the country – along with large quantities of weapons. The first attack is aimed at the lifeline of the Hebrew population – the lines of transport.
This is the only way to explain how they got the idea that the land was uninhabited. ” About half a million people lived there, 90% of them Muslim and Christian Arabs. They were a part of the large Arab population of the Ottoman Empire. This people too had its own national aspirations. Arab intellectuals wrote nationalistic manifestos, Arab officers set up underground cells in the Turkish-Ottoman army. The Arabs in Palestine were also swept along in this nationalist development. This is how it happened that two national movements arose at the same time – the Zionist and the Arab – unknown to each other.
During breaks in the field exercises he sat twenty meters away with his back to us. And no one ever saw him smile. Just one time I thought I detected a slight twitching at the end of his mustache, when he saw our comrade “Nail” in his long white nightshirt. Squad leaders have a particularly difficult time if they are younger than their subordinates. A twenty-five-year-old soldier, who was some kind of a manager “outside,” has great difficulty standing to attention in front of a nineteen-year-old school-leaver.