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Thursday, January 8, 2009

1948- War of Independence-the liberation of Haifa

The Haganah's force consisted of 5 companies from the Field Corps, one Palmach company, as well as a contingent of the Guard Corps. The Jewish forces attacked Wadi Salib and Wadi Nisnas from Hadar HaCarmel, while the bulk of the attack on Khalisa came from Neve Sha'anan. The Arab headquarters were in the center of the city, near the port and the railway depot.

Commenting on the use of 'psychological warfare broadcasts' and military tactics in Haifa, Benny Morris writes:

Throughout the Haganah made effective use of Arabic language broadcasts and loudspeaker vans. Haganah Radio announced that 'the day of judgement had arrived' and called on inhabitants to 'kick out the foreign criminals' and to 'move away from every house and street, from every neighbourhood occupied by foreign criminals'. The Haganah broadcasts called on the populace to 'evacuate the women, the children and the old immediately, and send them to a safe haven'… Jewish tactics in the battle were designed to stun and quickly overpower opposition; demoralisation was a primary aim. It was deemed just as important to the outcome as the physical destruction of the Arab units. The mortar barrages and the psychological warfare broadcasts and announcements, and the tactics employed by the infantry companies, advancing from house to house, were all geared to this goal. The orders of Carmeli's 22nd Battalion were 'to kill every [adult male] Arab encountered' and to set alight with fire-bombs 'all objectives that can be set alight. I am sending you posters in Arabic; disperse on route'.

John Kimche also describes the "psychological blitz on Arab quarters" until "the Arab nerve broke and the flight from the town assumed panic proportions".

The first attack was on the Rushmiyya Bridge area cutting the Arab areas off. Prior to the main thrust from the higher ground, of the Jewish neighbourhood, Hadar HaCarmel, the Arab Muslim neighborhhod of Khalisa came under mortar shell bombardment. The 3,500-5,000 Arab irregulars could not mount a real defense. The following day the Arab National Committee of Haifa were prepared to ask for a truce via Stockwell. Stockwell agreed to meet with the Israelis, and returned 15 minutes later; however, the terms proposed by the Haganah -- complete disarmament, surrender of weapons, and a curfew -- were not accepted by the Arab leadership.

* 1. After the release of prisoners from Haifa lock-up, the Arab legion took over the building some time later.
* 2. By 10:15, Arab casualties had been admitted to the Amin Hospital.
* 3. Hospital staff and casualties were then evacuated to the Government Hospital in the city.
* 4. Towards Midday, the fighting slackened considerably. The Jews had complete control of the Xhamra square and Stanton Street and were firing from positions in the Suq (market) area. They have also appeared in strength in the eastern quarter of the town from Wadi Husimiyah Bridge to Tel Amal.
* 5. Arab women, children and others were still being evacuated from the Suq area through the port of Haifa and other safe areas.
* 6. Arabs were by this time suing for a truce and the Jews replied that they were prepared to consider it if the Arabs stopped shooting.
* 7. At 17:00 general Arab resistance had ceased in the eastern area with the exception of a few isolated spots and the Jews were in possession of the Suq as far as the eastern gate.
* 8. In the Wadi Miamr area the battle was still going on. Arab casualties in this area are believed to be considerable
* 9. At 18:00 the Arab leaders met to consider final terms laid down at a joint meeting of Arab and Jews.

That afternoon, a meeting was held in the town hall to discuss terms of the truce. Due to the inability of the National Committee (Haifa) being unable to guarantee that no incidents would occur, the Arab delegation declared their inability to endorse the proposed truce and requested protection for the evacuation of Haifa's Palestinian Arab citizens. It was noted by The Times that the Haganah had made use of Arabic language broadcasts using Haganah Radio and loudspeaker vans calling on the inhabitants to 'kick out the foreign criminals'. Similarly the Haganah had broadcast that the Palestinian Arab population should 'evacuate the women, the children and the old immediately and sent them to a safe haven'.

By the April 22, 1948 the British were only in control of the Haifa port area.The rest of the city was in the hands of the Carmeli Brigade of the Haganah, commanded by Moshe Carmel.

The banner headlines of the Palestine Post on April 23 1948 announced "Haifa Pivotal Points fall to Haganah forces in 30 hour battle"... the report continued that Haganah crushed all resistance, occupied many major buildings forcing thousands of Arabs to flee by the only open route-the sea". The report was written up on the 21 April but not printed until the 30 April, presumedly for security reasons.