A Lesson For the Children:
Our story begins in 5708 (1948), in the days before the State of Israel was established. Shots were heard on the quiet Tel Aviv street. Two men were hurt, and the other people ran in all directions. Time after time, the Arab residents of Yaffo would shoot, trying to maim and kill, putting the Jewish residents of Tel Aviv in danger. Those who suffered most were the people who traveled on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road, which was a constant target for the attacks.
“We must put a stop to the Arab threat on Tel Aviv!” one of the commanders of the Hagana said. And a colleague said, “The time has come to plan a serious operation, and to capture the city of Yaffo.” But the first one replied, “Have you gone mad? To capture Yaffo?? The city has more than seventy thousand inhabitants! Do you know what it takes to capture a city like that? They have stores of weapons, strategic control points, secret hiding places when the need arises, armored vehicles, and much more. To try and capture Yaffo is a suicide mission! We must think of another plan, one that is not so ambitious!”
The participants of the meeting became lost in thought. They knew that the speaker was right. There was no point in making dangerous plans that would fail in the end, bring about a large number of casualties, and not lead to any advantage. In the end, a decision was reached. They would leave Yaffo alone for the time being. Instead, they would concentrate on the nearby villages to the east, such as Chiriya, Sakiya, Salama, and Yazur, and they would try to capture them. The men of the Haganna hoped that this would separate Yaffo from the other surrounding Arab towns, and perhaps make it easier to capture at a later date.
On the eve of Pesach, the battle began, code named “Burning the Chametz.” The forces of the Haganna started to attack Chiriya in the middle of the night, and they conquered the place after a harsh battle, in which three of the soldiers were killed. The Arabs had more than forty casualties, and they were frightened by the attacking force of the Jews. The next day, the Haganna spread its forces out and captured outposts near the villages, but the complete success of the operation seemed to be far in the future.
Meanwhile, in the city of Yaffo, the Arab leaders gathered. One asked, “What will be?” And another answered, “It`s terrible! The Jewish attacks are succeeding!” One old man stood up, waved his stick, and said: “I have seen many wars in my time. In the name of Allah, there is no war that ends in a good way. The winning side always murders and rapes, and destroys without mercy. If the Jews succeed, we are in deep trouble!” The participants tried half-heartedly to make plans for some sort of defense against the terrible Jewish aggression. What they did not know is that the Jews did not have any plan to capture Yaffo at all.
Suddenly, the entire area was shook by a tremendous explosion. The bridge over the Ayalon River rose up into the air and was shattered into small pieces. This bridge was used by the inhabitants to travel to the east, and when it was blown up their route to the neighboring villages was cut off. Encouraged by their success, the Jewish soldiers continued in the Arab villages, according to their plan.
But in the city of Yaffo the pressure grew. It turned into fear, and the fear became a general panic. It did not take more than three days until a small boat left the Yaffo port, carrying the commander of the “army of salvation of the Arabs.” The highly praised commander stole away in secret, leaving the inhabitants of the city to fend for themselves in the face of the cruel conquering army… When the Arabs heard this, they all began to organize their belongings and to run away from the city. The commanders of the Haganna were astounded to see row after row of men, women, and children, running from the city towards the center of the country. More than seventy thousand inhabitants fled from the city in a few days, and the vital city that had threatened Tel Aviv and its surroundings surrendered without any fight on the fourth of Iyar, 5708 (1948).
Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (www.zomet.org.il).
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.