On this date 70 years ago April 13th 1948, a convoy comprising of doctors, nurses, patients, students, and a few Haganah soldiers set out to bring humanitarian aid to Hadassah Hospital, which had been cut off and besieged from the western half of Jerusalem.
Due to the blockade, the only way to the hospital was to pass through a narrow mile and a half road that led through the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The humanitarian convoy was assured by the British commander of Jerusalem that the road was safe in light of the ceasefire that had been implemented in the preceding month.
Despite the British commander’s assurance, Arab forces ambushed the convoy and detonated a mine on the lead vehicle, followed by heavy machine gun fire. After gasoline started to leak from the vehicles, the Arab attackers threw Molotov cocktails that set the vehicles ablaze and burned many of the people alive.
Despite Jewish pleas, the British refused to deploy their forces or to allow Jewish forces to come to the aid of the convoy. It was only at 15:30, some six hours after the start of the attack, that the British sent troops to quell the massacre.
Of the 105 passengers, 78 were killed, including doctors, nurses, patients and students. A British soldier was also killed in the attack. This attack was, and still remains, the single deadliest attack perpetrated in the modern era of Israel.
May their memories be a blessing.