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Fall of Jerusalem, 7-9 December 1917

Fall of Jerusalem, 7-9 December 1917


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Fall of Jerusalem, 7-9 December 1917

Jerusalem had been the target of the British effort in Palestine since the end of March 1917. At first it had been seen as part of a wider plan to combine a Russian offensive in the Caucasus, a British advance from Baghdad and the fall of Jerusalem to force the Turks to sue for peace. Later, after the spring of 1917 had seen the failure of the Allied offensive on the western front, the French mutiny and the rise of the U-boat threat, the capture of Jerusalem began to be seen as a much needed morale boost for the British population.

In June 1917 General Sir Edmund Allenby arrived to take command of the British forces in Egypt, then held up in front of the Turkish defences of Gaza. After careful preparation Allenby successfully implemented a plan already under consideration for an attack around the Turkish left. The resulting third battle of Gaza (31 October-7 November) forced the Turks to abandon the position at Gaza, and retreat back towards Gaza. An attempt to defend the railway linking Jerusalem to the north failed (battle of Junction Station, 13-14 November), splitting the Turkish armies in Palestine in two.

Allenby then attempted to take advantage of the rapid Turkish retreat to attack Jerusalem. The resulting battle of Nebi Samwil, 18-24 November, saw the British attempt to cut the road from Jerusalem to Nablus by sweeping through the Judean Mountains. It ended in failure when Turkish resistance proved to be more determined than expected.

In the aftermath of this battle, Allenby settled down to improve his supply lines and move new troops towards Jerusalem. XXI corps, who had conducted most of the pursuit after Gaza, was moved to the coast, while XX corps, who had made the crucial breakthrough at Beersheba on 31 October, moved up to take their place in the hills west of Jerusalem.

The attack by XXI corps had seen the British attempt to pivot on their right wing, and cut the Nablus road some way to the north of Jerusalem. General Sir Philip Chetwode, the commander of XX corps, decided to attempt the opposite move. XX corps would pivot on their left. Their right wing would advance almost directly towards Jerusalem, pass close to the north west of the city and get onto the Nablus road much further south.

The main advantage of this plan was that the advance could be supported from the main road from Ramleh to Jerusalem. However, it would require an attack on the main defences of Jerusalem. These had been created a year earlier by blasting trenches out of the rocky hills west of the city. In places they were three tiers high, and should have been almost impossible to attack.

Fortunately for the British, since the end of the first attack on Jerusalem the Turks had launched a series of determined but costly counterattacks with their best troops. When the British attack began early on 8 December Turkish resistance was much less stubborn than expected. At the end of the day the British had pushed the Turks out of their strongest positions, and made the evacuation of the city inevitable.

The last Turkish troops left Jerusalem early on the morning of 9 December. Just after noon on the same day the Mayor of Jerusalem presented the keys of the city to General Shea, the commander of 60th Division. His division would also see the most fighting on 9 December. A Turkish rearguard had been left in the Mount of Olives, and a bayonet charge was needed to force it out.

By the end of the day British divisions were in place all around Jerusalem. On 11 December General Allenby made his formal entry into the city. The Turks would mount one counterattack, on 26 December, but without success.

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War


Demographic history of Jerusalem

Jerusalem's population size and composition has shifted many times over its 5,000 year history. Since medieval times, the Old City of Jerusalem has been divided into Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian quarters.

Most population data pre-1905 is based on estimates, often from foreign travellers or organisations, since previous census data usually covered wider areas such as the Jerusalem District. [1] These estimates suggest that since the end of the Crusades, Muslims formed the largest group in Jerusalem until the mid-19th century. Between 1838 and 1876, a number of estimates exist which conflict as to whether Jews or Muslims were the largest group during this period, and between 1882 and 1922 estimates conflict as to exactly when Jews became a majority of the population.

In 2016, the total population of Jerusalem was 882,700, including 536,600 Jews, 319,800 Muslims, 15,800 Christians, and 10,300 unclassified. [2] In 2003 the population of the Old City was 3,965 Jews and 31,405 "Arabs and others" (Choshen 12).


  • c. 2000 BCE: First known mention of the city, using the name Rusalimum, in the Middle Kingdom EgyptianExecration Texts although the identity of Rusalimum as Jerusalem has been challenged. [3][4][5] The Semitic root S-L-M in the name is thought to refer to either "peace" (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew) or Shalim, the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion.
  • c. 1850 BCE: According to the Book of Genesis, the Binding of Isaac takes place on a mountain in the land of Moriah (see Chronology of the Bible). Biblical scholars have often interpreted the location of the mountain to be in Jerusalem, although this is disputed.
  • c. 1700–1550 BCE: According to Manetho (via Josephus' Against Apion), the Hyksos invade the region.
  • c. 1550–1400 BCE: Jerusalem becomes a vassal to Egypt as the Egyptian New Kingdom reunites Egypt and expands into the Levant under Ahmose I and Thutmose I.
  • c. 1330 BCE: Correspondence in the Amarna letters between Abdi-Heba, Canaanite ruler of Jerusalem (then known as Urusalim), and Amenhotep III, suggesting the city was a vassal to New KingdomEgypt.
  • 1178 BCE: The Battle of Djahy (Canaan) between Ramesses III and the Sea Peoples marks the beginning of the decline in power of the New Kingdom in the Levant during the Bronze Age collapse (depicted on the North Wall of the Medinet Habu temple and the Papyrus Harris).
  • c. 1000 BCE: According to the Bible, Jerusalem is inhabited by Jebusites and is known as Jebus.

Independent Israelite capital Edit

Jerusalem becomes the capital of the Kingdom of Judah and, according to the Bible, for the first few decades even of a wider united kingdom of Judah and Israel, under kings belonging to the House of David.

  • c. 1010 BCE: biblical King David attacks and captures Jerusalem. Jerusalem becomes City of David and capital of the United Kingdom of Israel. [3]
  • c. 962 BCE: biblical King Solomon builds the First Temple.
  • c. 931–930 BCE: Solomon dies, and the Golden Age of Israel ends. Jerusalem becomes the capital of the (southern) Kingdom of Judah led by Rehoboam after the split of the United Monarchy.
  • 925 BCE: Egyptian Sack of Jerusalem – Pharaoh Sheshonk I of the Third Intermediate Period invades Canaan following the Battle of Bitter Lakes. Possibly the same as Shishak, the first Pharaoh mentioned in the Bible who captured and pillaged Jerusalem (see Bubastite Portal).
  • 853 BCE: The Battle of Qarqar in which Jerusalem's forces were likely involved in an indecisive battle against Shalmaneser III of Neo-Assyria (Jehoshaphat of Judah was allied to Ahab of the Israel according to the Bible) (see Kurkh Monoliths).
  • c. 850 BCE: Jerusalem is sacked by Philistines, Arabs and Ethiopians, who looted King Jehoram's house, and carried off all of his family except for his youngest son Jehoahaz.
  • c. 830 BCE: Hazael of Aram Damascus conquers most of Canaan. According to the Bible, Jehoash of Judah gave all of Jerusalem's treasures as a tribute, but Hazael proceeded to destroy "all the princes of the people" in the city.
  • 786 BCE: Jehoash of Israel sacks the city, destroys the walls and takes Amaziah of Judah prisoner.
  • c. 740 BCE: Assyrian inscriptions record military victories of Tiglath Pileser III over Uzziah of Judah.
  • 733 BCE: According to the Bible, Jerusalem becomes a vassal of the Neo-Assyrian Empire[6][7] after Ahaz of Judah appeals to Tiglath Pileser III of the Neo-Assyrian Empire to protect the city from Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Aram. Tiglath Pileser III subsequently conquers most of the Levant. At around this time, the Siege of Gezer, 20 miles west of Jerusalem, is recorded on a stone relief at the Assyrian royal palace in Nimrud.
  • c. 712 BCE: The Siloam Tunnel is built in order to keep water from the Gihon Spring inside the city. According to the Bible the tunnel was built by King Hezekiah in preparation for a siege by the Assyrians, along with an expansion of Jerusalem's fortifications across the Tyropoeon Valley to enclose the hill today known as Mount Zion. [8]
  • 712 BCE: Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem – Jerusalem pays further tribute to the Neo-Assyrian Empire after the Neo-Assyrian King Sennacherib laid siege to the city.
  • c. 670 BCE: Manasseh, the ruler of Jerusalem, is brought in chains to the Assyrian king, presumably for suspected disloyalty. [9]
  • c. 627 BCE: The death of Ashurbanipal and the successful revolt of Nabopolassar replaces the Neo-Assyrian Empire with the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
  • 609 BCE: Jerusalem becomes part of the Empire of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt after Josiah of Judah is killed by the army of Pharaoh Necho II at the Battle of Megiddo. Josiah's son Jehoahaz of Judah is deposed by the Egyptians and replaced as ruler of Jerusalem by his brother Jehoiakim.
  • 605 BCE: Jerusalem switches its tributary allegiance back to the Neo-Babylonians after Necho II is defeated by Nebuchadnezzar II at the Battle of Carchemish.
  • 599–597 BCE: first Babylonian siege – Nebuchadnezzar II crushed a rebellion in the Kingdom of Judah and other cities in the Levant which had been sparked by the Neo-Babylonians failed invasion of Egypt in 601. Jehoiachin of Jerusalem deported to Babylon.
  • 587–586 BCE: second Babylonian siege – Nebuchadnezzar II fought Pharaoh Apries's attempt to invade Judah. Jerusalem mostly destroyed including the First Temple, and the city's prominent citizens exiled to Babylon (see Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle).
  • 582 BCE: Gedaliah the Babylonian governor of Judah assassinated, provoking refugees to Egypt and a third deportation.
  • 539 BCE: Jerusalem becomes part of the Eber-Narisatrapy of the Achaemenid Empire after King Cyrus the Great conquers the Neo-Babylonian Empire by defeating Nabonidus at the Battle of Opis
    issues the Edict of Cyrus allowing Babylonian Jews to return from the Babylonian captivity and rebuild the Temple (Biblical sources only, see Cyrus (Bible) and The Return to Zion). [10]
  • The first wave of Babylonian returnees is Sheshbazzar's Aliyah.
  • The second wave of Babylonian returnees is Zerubbabel's Aliyah.
  • The return of Babylonian Jews increases the schism with the Samaritans, who had remained in the region during the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations.
  • 516 BCE: The Second Temple is built in the 6th year of Darius the Great.
  • 458 BCE: The third wave of Babylonian returnees is Ezra's Aliyah.
  • 445 BCE: The fourth and final wave of Babylonian returnees is Nehemiah's Aliyah. Nehemiah is the appointed governor of Judah, and rebuilds the Old City walls.
  • 410 BCE: The Great Assembly is established in Jerusalem.
  • 365/364-362 and c. 347 BCE: Judea participates in Egyptian-inspired and Sidonian-led revolts against the Achaemenids, and coins minted in Jerusalem are reflecting the short-lived autonomy. [11][12] Achaemenid general Bagoas is possibly the same as 'Bagoses' form Josephus' Antiquities, who defiles the Temple and imposes taxes on sacrifices performed there. [11][13][14]

Under Alexander, the Ptolemaies, and Seleucids Edit

  • 332 BCE: Jerusalem capitulates to Alexander the Great, during his six-year Macedonian conquest of the empire of Darius III of Persia. Alexander's armies took Jerusalem without complication while travelling to Egypt after the Siege of Tyre (332 BC).
  • 323 BCE: The city comes under the rule of Laomedon of Mytilene, who is given control of the province of Syria following Alexander's death and the resulting Partition of Babylon between the Diadochi. This partition was reconfirmed two years later at the Partition of Triparadisus.
  • 320 BCE: General Nicanor, dispatched by satrap of EgyptPtolemy I Soter and founder of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, takes control of Syria including Jerusalem and captures Laomedon in the process.
  • 315 BCE: The Antigonid dynasty gains control of the city after Ptolemy I Soter withdraws from Syria including Jerusalem and Antigonus I Monophthalmus invades during the Third War of the Diadochi. Seleucus I Nicator, then governor of Babylon under Antigonus I Monophthalmus, fled to Egypt to join Ptolemy.
  • 312 BCE: Jerusalem is re-captured by Ptolemy I Soter after he defeats Antigonus' son Demetrius I at the Battle of Gaza. It is probable that Seleucus I Nicator, then an Admiral under Ptolemy's command, also took part in the battle, as following the battle he was given 800 infantry and 200 cavalry and immediately travelled to Babylon where he founded the Seleucid Empire.
  • 311 BCE: The Antigonid dynasty regains control of the city after Ptolemy withdraws from Syria again following a minor defeat by Antigonus I Monophthalmus, and a peace treaty is concluded.
  • 302 BCE: Ptolemy invades Syria for a third time, but evacuated again shortly thereafter following false news of a victory for Antigonus against Lysimachus (another of the Diadochi).
  • 301 BCE: Coele-Syria (Southern Syria) including Jerusalem is re-captured by Ptolemy I Soter after Antigonus I Monophthalmus is killed at the Battle of Ipsus. Ptolemy had not taken part in the battle, and the victors Seleucus I Nicator and Lysimachus had carved up the Antigonid Empire between them, with Southern Syria intended to become part of the Seleucid Empire. Although Seleucus did not attempt to conquer the area he was due, Ptolemy's pre-emptive move led to the Syrian Wars which began in 274 BC between the successors of the two leaders.
  • 219–217 BCE: The northern portion of Coele-Syria is given to the Seleucid Empire in 219 through the betrayal of Governor Theodotus of Aetolia, who had held the province on behalf of Ptolemy IV Philopator. The Seleucids advanced on Egypt, but were defeated at the Battle of Raphia (Rafah) in 217.
  • 200 BCE: Jerusalem falls under the control of the Seleucid Empire following the Battle of Panium (part of the Fifth Syrian War) in which Antiochus III the Great defeated the Ptolemies.
  • 175 BCE: Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeds his father and becomes King of the Seleucid Empire. He accelerates Seleucid efforts to eradicate the Jewish religion by forcing the Jewish High Priest Onias III to step down in favour of his brother Jason, who was replaced by Menelaus three years later. He outlaws Sabbath and circumcision, sacks Jerusalem and erects an altar to Zeus in the Second Temple after plundering it.
  • 167 BCE: Maccabean revolt sparked when a Seleucid Greek government representative under King Antiochus IV asked Mattathias to offer sacrifice to the Greek gods he refused to do so, killed a Jew who had stepped forward to do so and attacked the government official that required the act. [15] Led to the guerilla Battle of Wadi Haramia.
  • 164 BC 25 Kislev: The Maccabees capture Jerusalem following the Battle of Beth Zur, and rededicate the Temple (see Hanukkah). The Hasmoneans take control of part of Jerusalem, while the Seleucids retain control of the Acra (fortress) in the city and most surrounding areas.
  • 160 BCE: The Seleucids retake control of the whole of Jerusalem after Judas Maccabeus is killed at the Battle of Elasa, marking the end of the Maccabean revolt.
  • 145–144 BCE: Alexander Balas is overthrown at the Battle of Antioch (the capital of the empire) by Demetrius II Nicator in alliance with Ptolemy VI Philometor of Egypt. The following year, Mithradates I of Parthia captured Seleucia (the previous capital of the Seleucid Empire), significantly weakening the power of Demetrius II Nicator throughout the remaining empire.

Hasmonean kingdom Edit

  • c. 140 BCE: The Acra is captured and later destroyed by Simon Thassi.
  • 139 BCE: Demetrius II Nicator is taken prisoner for nine years by the rapidly expanding Parthian Empire after defeat of the Seleucids in Persia. Simon Thassi travels to Rome, where the Roman Republic formally acknowledges the Hasmonean Kingdom. However the region remains a province of the Seleucid empire and Simon Thassi is required to provide troops to Antiochus VII Sidetes.
  • 134 BCE: SadduceeJohn Hyrcanus becomes leader after his father Simon Thassi is murdered. He takes a Greek regnal name (see Hyrcania) in an acceptance of the Hellenistic culture of his Seleucid suzerains.
  • 134 BCE: Seleucid King Antiochus VII Sidetes recaptures the city. John Hyrcanus opened King David's sepulchre and removed three thousand talents which he paid as tribute to spare the city (according to Josephus. [16] ) John Hyrcanus remains as governor, becoming a vassal to the Seleucids
  • 116 BCE: A civil war between Seleucid half-brothers Antiochus VIII Grypus and Antiochus IX Cyzicenus results in a breakup of the kingdom and the independence of certain principalities, including Judea. [17][18]
  • 110 BCE: John Hyrcanus carries out the first military conquests of the independent Hasmonean kingdom, raising a mercenary army to capture Madaba and Schechem, significantly increasing the regional influence of Jerusalem. [19][20]
  • c. 87 BCE: According to Josephus, following a six-year civil war involving Seleucid king Demetrius III Eucaerus, Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus crucified 800 Jewish rebels in Jerusalem.
  • 73–63 BCE: The Roman Republic extends its influence into the region in the Third Mithridatic War. During the war, Armenian King Tigranes the Great takes control of Syria and prepares to invade Judea and Jerusalem but has to retreat following an invasion of Armenia by Lucullus. [21] However, this period is believed to have resulted in the first settlement of Armenians in Jerusalem. [22] According to Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi writing in c. 482 CE, Tigranes captured Jerusalem and deported Hyrcanus to Armenia, however most scholars deem this account to be incorrect. [23][24]

Early Roman period Edit

Events from the New Testament (Canonical Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles -Pauline and Catholic- and the Book of Revelation) offer a narrative regarded by most Christians as Holy Scripture. Much of the narrative lacks historical anchors and Christian apologists have tried to calculate a historical chronology of events without reaching consensual conclusions. All such events and dates listed here are presented under this reservation, and are generally lacking non-sectarian scholarly recognition. They are marked in the list with a cross [†].

  • 63 BCE: Roman Republic under Pompey the Greatbesieges and takes the city. [3] Pompey enters the temple but leaves treasure. Hyrcanus II is appointed High Priest and Antipater the Idumaean is appointed governor.
  • 57–55 BCE: Aulus Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, split the former Hasmonean Kingdom into five districts of legal and religious councils known as sanhedrin based at Jerusalem, Sepphoris (Galilee), Jericho, Amathus (Perea) and Gadara. [25][26]
  • 54 BCE: Crassus loots the temple, confiscating all its gold, after failing to receive the required tribute. [citation needed]
  • 45 BCE: Antipater the Idumaean is appointed Procurator of Judaea by Julius Caesar, after Julius Caesar is appointed dictator of the Roman Republic following Caesar's Civil War. [citation needed]
  • 43 BCE: Antipater the Idumaean is killed by poison, and is succeeded by his sons Phasael and Herod. [citation needed]
  • 40 BCE: Antigonus, son of HasmoneanAristobulus II and nephew of Hyrcanus II, offers money to the Parthian army to help him recapture the Hasmonean realm from the Romans. Jerusalem is captured by Barzapharnes, Pacorus I of Parthia and Roman deserter Quintus Labienus. Antigonus is placed as King of Judea. Hyracanus is mutilated, Phasael commits suicide, and Herod escapes to Rome.
  • 40–37 BCE: The Roman Senate appoints Herod "King of the Jews" and provides him with an army. Following Roman General Publius Ventidius Bassus' defeat of the Parthians in Northern Syria, Herod and Roman General Gaius Sosius wrest Judea from Antigonus II Mattathias, culminating in the siege of the city. [27][28]
  • 37–35 BCE: Herod the Great builds the Antonia Fortress, named after Mark Anthony, on the site of the earlier Hasmonean Baris. [29]
  • 19 BCE: Herod expands the Temple Mount, whose retaining walls include the Western Wall, and rebuilds the Temple (Herod's Temple).
  • 15 BCE: Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, son-in-law of Emperor Augustus visits Jerusalem and offers a hecatomb in the temple. [30]
  • c. 6 BCE [†]: John the Baptist is born in Ein Kerem to Zechariah and Elizabeth.
  • c. 6-4 BCE [†]: Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 40 days after his birth in Bethlehem.
  • 6 CE: End of Herodian governorate in Jerusalem.
    deposed as the ethnarch of the Tetrarchy of Judea. Herodian Dynasty replaced in the newly created Iudaea province by Roman prefects and after 44 by procurators, beginning with Coponius (Herodians continued to rule elsewhere and Agrippa I and Agrippa II later served as Kings).
  • Senator Quirinius appointed Legate of the Roman province of Syria (to which Judea had been "added" according to Josephus[31] though Ben-Sasson claims it was a "satellite of Syria" and not "legally part of Syria" [32] ) carries out a tax census of both Syria and Judea known as the Census of Quirinius.
  • Both events spark the failed revolt of Judas the Galilean and the founding of the Zealot movement, according to Josephus.
  • Jerusalem loses its place as the administrative capital to Caesarea Palaestina. [33]
  • 7–26 CE: Brief period of peace, relatively free of revolt and bloodshed in Judea and Galilee. [34]
  • c. 28–30 CE [†]: Three-year Ministry of Jesus, during which a number of key events took place in Jerusalem, including:
    . – Jesus drives the merchants and moneylenders from Herod's Temple.
  • Meeting with Nicodemus. .
  • c. 30 CE [†]: Key events in the martyrdom of Jesus which took place in Jerusalem.
    (Jesus enters Jerusalem as the Messiah, while riding on a donkey). . and Crucifixion. . .
  • c. 30-36 CE [†]: The first Christian martyr (Protomartyr) Saint Stephen stoned to death following Sanhedrin trial.
  • 37–40 CE: "Crisis under Gaius Caligula" – a financial crisis throughout the empire results in the "first open break" between Jews and Romans even though problems were already evident during the Census of Quirinius in 6 CE and under Sejanus before 31 CE. [35]
  • 45–46 CE [†]: After a famine in Judea, Paul and Barnabas provide support to the Jerusalem poor from Antioch.
  • 50 CE [†]: The Apostles thought to have held the Council of Jerusalem, the first Christian council. May mark the first formal schism between Christianity and Judaism at which it was agreed that Christians did not need to be circumcised or alternately may represent a form of early Noahide Law.
  • 57 CE [†]: Paul of Tarsus is arrested in Jerusalem after he is attacked by a mob in the Temple ( Acts 21:26–39 ) and defends his actions before a sanhedrin.
  • 64–68 CE: Nero persecutes Jews and Christians throughout the Roman Empire.
  • 66 CE: James the Just, the brother of Jesus and first Bishop of Jerusalem, is killed in Jerusalem at the instigation of the high priest Ananus ben Ananus according to Eusebius of Caesarea. [36]
  • 66–73 CE: First Jewish-Roman War, with the Judean rebellion led by Simon Bar Giora
  • 70 CE: Siege of Jerusalem (70)Titus, eldest son of Emperor Vespasian, ends the major portion of First Jewish–Roman War and destroys Herod's Temple on Tisha B'Av. The Roman legion Legio X Fretensis is garrisoned in the city.
  • The Sanhedrin is relocated to Yavne. Pharisees become dominant, and their form of Judaism evolves into modern day Rabbinic Judaism (whereas Sadducees and Essenes are no longer recorded as groups in history—see Origins of Rabbinic Judaism).
  • The city's leading Christians relocate to Pella.
  • c. 90–96 CE: Jews and Christians heavily persecuted throughout the Roman Empire towards the end of the reign of Domitian.
  • 115–117 CE: Jews revolt against the Romans throughout the empire, including Jerusalem, in the Kitos War.
  • 117 CE: Saint Simeon of Jerusalem, second Bishop of Jerusalem, was crucified under Trajan by the proconsul Atticus in Jerusalem or the vicinity according to Eusebius of Caesarea (260/265 – 339/340). [37]

Late Roman period (Aelia Capitolina) Edit

  • 130: Emperor Hadrian visits the ruins of Jerusalem and decides to rebuild it as a city dedicated to Jupiter called Aelia Capitolina
  • 131: An additional legion, Legio VI Ferrata, was stationed in the city to maintain order, as the Romangovernor performed the foundation ceremony of Aelia Capitolina. Hadrian abolished circumcision (brit milah), which he viewed as mutilation. [38]
  • 132–135: Bar Kokhba's revolt – Simon Bar Kokhba leads a revolt against the Roman Empire, controlling the city for three years. He is proclaimed as the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva. Hadrian sends Sextus Julius Severus to the region, who brutally crushes the revolt and retakes the city.
  • 136: Hadrian formally reestablishes the city as Aelia Capitolina, and forbids Jewish and Christian presence in the city.
  • c. 136–140: A Temple to Jupiter is built on the Temple Mount and a temple to Venus is built on Calvary.
  • 138: Restrictions over Christian presence in the city are relaxed after Hadrian dies and Antoninus Pius becomes emperor.
  • 195: Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem presides over a council held by the bishops of Palestine in Caesarea, and decrees that Easter is to be always kept on a Sunday, and not with the Jewish Passover.
  • 251: Bishop Alexander of Jerusalem is killed during Roman Emperor Decius' persecution of Christians.
  • 259: Jerusalem falls under the rule of Odaenathus as King of the Palmyrene Empire after the capture of Emperor Valerian by Shapur I at the Battle of Edessa causes the Roman Empire to splinter.
  • 272: Jerusalem becomes part of the Roman Empire again after Aurelian defeats the Palmyrene Empire at the Battle of Emesa (Homs).
  • 303: Saint Procopius of Scythopolis is born in Jerusalem.
  • 312: Macarius becomes the last Bishop of Aelia Capitolina.
  • 313: Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre founded in Jerusalem after Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity throughout the Roman Empire following his own conversion the previous year.
  • 324–25: Emperor Constantine wins the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy and reunites the empire. Within a few months, the First Council of Nicaea (first worldwide Christian council) confirms status of Aelia Capitolina as a patriarchate. [39] A significant wave of Christian immigration to the city begins. This is the date on which the city is generally taken to have been renamed Jerusalem.
  • c. 325: The ban on Jews entering the city remains in force, but they are allowed to enter once a year to pray on Tisha B'Av.
  • 326: Constantine's mother Helena visits Jerusalem and orders the destruction of Hadrian's temple to Venus which had been built on Calvary. Accompanied by Macarius of Jerusalem, the excavation reportedly discovers the True Cross, the Holy Tunic and the Holy Nails.
  • 333: The Eleona Basilica is built on the Mount of Olives, marking the site of the Ascension of Jesus.
  • 335: First Church of the Holy Sepulchre built on Calvary.
  • 347: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem delivers his Mystagogical Catecheses, instructions on the principal topics of Christian faith and practice.
  • 361: NeoplatonistJulian the Apostate becomes Roman Emperor and attempts to reverse the growing influence of Christianity by encouraging other religions. As a result, Alypius of Antioch is commissioned to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and Jews are allowed to return to the city. [40]
  • 363: The Galilee earthquake of 363 together with the re-establishment of Christianity's dominance following the death of Julian the Apostate at the Battle of Samarra ends attempts to build a third Temple in Jerusalem.
  • 380: Theodosius I declares Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire later loses its western provinces, with Jerusalem continuing under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Empire (commonly known as the Byzantine Empire).
  • c. 380: Tyrannius Rufinus and Melania the Elder found the first monastery in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives.
  • 386: Saint Jerome moves to Jerusalem in order to commence work on the Vulgate, commissioned by Pope Damasus I and instrumental in the fixation of the Biblical canon in the West. He later moves to Bethlehem.
  • 394: John II, Bishop of Jerusalem, consecrates the Church of the Holy Zion built on the site of the Cenacle.
  • 403: Euthymius the Great founds the Pharan lavra, six miles east of Jerusalem.
  • 438: Empress Aelia Eudocia Augusta, wife of Theodosius II, visits Jerusalem after being encouraged by Melania the Younger.
  • 451: The Council of Chalcedon confirms Jerusalem's status as a Patriarchate as one of the Pentarchy. Juvenal of Jerusalem becomes the first Patriarch of Jerusalem. [41]
  • 443–60: Empress Aelia Eudocia Augusta moves to Jerusalem where she dies in 460, after being banished by Theodosius II for adultery.
  • 483: Sabbas the Sanctified founds the Great Lavra, also known as Mar Saba, in the Kidron Valley.
  • 540–50: Emperor Justinian I undertakes a number of building works, including the once magnificent Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos ("the Nea") and the extension of the Cardo thoroughfare. [42]
  • c. 600: Latin Pope Gregory I commissions Abbot Probus of Ravenna to build a hospital in Jerusalem to treat Latin pilgrims to the Holy Land.
  • 610: The Temple Mount in Jerusalem becomes the focal point for Muslimsalat (prayers), known as the First Qibla, following Muhammad's initial revelations (Wahy). (Islamic sources)
  • 610: Jewish revolt against Heraclius begins in Antioch and spreads to other cities including Jerusalem.
  • 614: Siege of Jerusalem (614) – Jerusalem falls to Khosrau II's Sassanid Empire led by General Shahrbaraz, during the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628. Jewish leader Nehemiah ben Hushiel allied with Shahrbaraz in the battle, as part of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius, and was made governor of the city. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is burned, Patriarch Zacharias is taken prisoner, the True Cross and other relics are taken to Ctesiphon, and much of the Christian population is massacred. [43][44] Most of the city is destroyed. [citation needed]
  • 617: Jewish governor Nehemiah ben Hushiel is killed by a mob of Christian citizens, three years after he is appointed. The Sassanids quell the uprising and appoint a Christian governor to replace him.
  • 620: Muhammad's night journey (Isra and Mi'raj) to Jerusalem, according to Islamic hadith.
  • 624: Jerusalem loses its place as the focal point for Muslim prayers to Mecca, 18 months after the Hijra (Muhammad's migration to Medina).
  • c. 625: According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Muhammad ordained the Al-Aqsa Mosque as one of the three holy mosques of Islam. [45]
  • 629: Byzantine emperor Heraclius retakes Jerusalem, after the decisive defeat of the Sassanid Empire at the Battle of Nineveh (627). Heraclius personally returns the True Cross to the city. [46]

Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates Edit

  • 636–37: Siege of Jerusalem (637)ArabianCaliphUmar the Great conquers Jerusalem and at the request of Jerusalem's Christian Patriarch, enters the city on foot, following the decisive defeat of the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Yarmouk a few months earlier. [3] Patriarch Sophronius and Umar are reported to have agreed the Covenant of Umar I, which guaranteed non-Muslims freedom of religion, and under Islamic rule, for the first time since the Roman period, Jews were once again allowed to live and worship freely in Jerusalem. [47] Jerusalem becomes part of the Jund Filastin province of the Arab Caliphate.
  • 638: The Armenian Apostolic Church began appointing its own bishop in Jerusalem.
  • 661: Muawiyah I is ordained as Caliph of the Islamic world in Jerusalem following the assassination of Ali in Kufa, ending the First Fitna and marking the beginning of the Umayyad Empire.
  • 677: According to interpretations of Maronite historian Theophilus of Edessa, Mardaites (possibly ancestors of today's Maronites) took over a swathe of land including Jerusalem on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor, who was simultaneously repelling the Umayyads in the Siege of Constantinople (674–678). However, this has been contested as a mistranslation of the words "Holy City". [48][49]
  • 687–691: The Dome of the Rock is built by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan during the Second Fitna, becoming the world's first great work of Islamic architecture. [3]
  • 692: Orthodox Council in Trullo formally makes Jerusalem one of the Pentarchy (disputed by Roman Catholicism).
  • 705: The Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I builds the Masjid al-Aqsa.
  • 730–749: John of Damascus, previously chief adviser to Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, moves to the monasteryMar Saba outside Jerusalem and becomes the major opponent of the First Iconoclasm through his theological writings.
  • 744–750: Riots in Jerusalem and other major Syrian cities during the reign of Marwan II, quelled in 745–46. The Umayyad army is subsequently defeated in 750 at the Battle of the Zab by the Abbasids, who take control of the entire empire including Jerusalem. Marwan II flees via Jerusalem but is assassinated in Egypt.
  • 793–96: Qaysi–Yamani war (793–96).
  • 797: First embassy sent from Charlemagne to Caliph Harun al-Rashid as part of the attempted Abbasid–Carolingian alliance. [50]
  • 799: Charlemagne sent another mission to Patriarch George of Jerusalem[51]
  • 801: Sufi saint Rabia Al-Adawiyya dies in Jerusalem.
  • 813: Caliph Al-Ma'mun visits Jerusalem and undertakes extensive renovations to the Dome of the Rock.
  • 878: Ahmad ibn Tulun, ruler of Egypt and founder of the Tulunid dynasty, conquers Jerusalem and most of Syria, four years after declaring Egypt's independence from the Abbasid court in Baghdad.
  • 881: Patriarch Elias III of Jerusalem corresponded with European rulers asking for financial donations, including Holy Roman Emperor and King of West FranciaCharles the Fat and Alfred the Great of England.
  • 904: The Abbasids regain control of Jerusalem after invading Syria, and the army of Tulunid Emir Harun retreats to Egypt where the Tulunids were defeated the following year.
  • 939/944: Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid, governor of Abbasid Egypt and Palestine, is given the title al-Ikhshid by Abbasid Caliph Ar-Radi, and in 944 is named hereditary governor of his lands.
  • 946: Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid dies. Abu al-Misk Kafur becomes de facto ruler of the Ikhshidid lands.
  • 951–978: Estakhri, Traditions of Countries and Ibn Hawqal, The Face of the Earth write of Jund Filistin: "Its capital and largest town is Ramla, but the Holy City of Jerusalem comes very near this last in size", and of Jerusalem: "It is a city perched high on the hills: and you have to go up to it from all sides. In all Jerusalem there is no running water, excepting what comes from springs, that can be used to irrigate the fields, and yet it is the most fertile portion of Filastin."[52]
  • 966: Al-Muqaddasi leaves Jerusalem to begin his 20-year geographical study, writing in detail about Jerusalem in his Description of Syria, Including Palestine[52]
  • 968: Abu al-Misk Kafur dies and is also buried in Jerusalem. The Ikhshidid government divides and the Fatimids prepare for invasion of Egypt and Palestine.

Fatimid and Seljuk rule Edit

  • 969: The IsmailiShiaFatimids under General Jawhar al-Siqilli conquer the Ikhshidid domains of the Abbasid empire including Jerusalem, following a treaty guaranteeing the local Sunnis freedom of religion.
  • 975: Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes's second Syrian campaign takes Emesa, Baalbek, Damascus, Tiberias, Nazareth, Caesarea, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos and Tripoli, but is defeated en route to Jerusalem. The emperor dies suddenly in 976 on his return from the campaign.
  • 1009: Fatimid CaliphAl-Hakim orders destruction of churches and synagogues in the empire, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  • 1021: Caliph Ali az-Zahir undertakes extensive renovations to the Dome of the Rock.
  • 1023–41: Anushtakin al-Dizbari is the governor of Palestine and Syria, and defeats the Bedouin revolt of 1024–29. Fifteen years later, in 1057, his body was ceremonially transferred to Jerusalem by Caliph al-Mustansir for reburial. [53]
  • 1030: Caliph Ali az-Zahir authorizes the rebuilding of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other Christian churches in a treaty with Byzantine Emperor Romanos III Argyros.
  • 1042: Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos pays for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, authorized by Caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah. Al-Mustansir authorizes a number of other Christian buildings, including the Muristan hospital, church and monastery built by a group of Amalfian merchants in c. 1050.
  • 1054: Great Schism – the Patriarch of Jerusalem joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. All Christians in the Holy Land came under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, setting in place a key cause of the Crusades.
  • 1073: Jerusalem is captured by under Turcoman Emir Atsiz ibn Uwvaq, who was advancing south into the weakening Fatimid Empire following the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert fought against the Great Seljuk Empire two years previously and a devastating six-year famine in Egypt between 1067 and 1072. [54]
  • 1077: Jerusalem revolts against the rule of Atsiz while he is fighting the Fatimid Empire in Egypt. On his return to Jerusalem, Atsiz retakes the city and massacres the local population. [55] Not long after, Atsiz is executed by Tutush I, governor of Syria under his brother, Seljuk leader Malik-Shah I. Tutush I appoints Artuq bin Ekseb, later founder of the Artuqid dynasty, as governor.
  • 1091–95: Artuq bin Ekseb dies in 1091, and is succeeded as governor by his sons Ilghazi and Sokmen. Malik Shah dies in 1092, and the Seljuk Empire splits into smaller warring states. Control of Jerusalem is disputed between Duqaq and Radwan after the death of their father Tutush I in 1095. The ongoing rivalry weakens Syria.
  • 1095–96: Al-Ghazali lives in Jerusalem.
  • 1095: At the Council of Clermont Pope Urban II calls for the First Crusade.
  • 1098: Fatimid regent Al-Afdal Shahanshah reconquers Jerusalem from Artuq bin Ekseb's sons Ilghazi and Sokmen.

First Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (1099–1187) Edit

  • 1099: Siege of Jerusalem (1099) – First Crusaders capture Jerusalem and slaughter most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. The Dome of the Rock is converted into a Christian church. Godfrey of Bouillon becomes Protector of the Holy Sepulchre. [56]
  • 1100: Dagobert of Pisa becomes Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. Godfrey of Bouillon promises to turn over the rule of Jerusalem to the Papacy once the crusaders capture Egypt. The invasion of Egypt did not occur as Godfrey died shortly thereafter. Baldwin I was proclaimed the first King of Jerusalem after politically outmanoeuvering Dagobert.
  • 1104: The Al-Aqsa Mosque becomes the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
  • 1112: Arnulf of Chocques becomes Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for the second time and prohibits non-Catholic worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  • 1113: The foundation of the Knights Hospitaller by Gerard Thom at the Muristan Christian hospice in Jerusalem is confirmed by a Papal Bull from Pope Paschal II.
  • 1119: Hugues de Payens and Godfrey de Saint-Omer found the Knights Templar in the Al Aqsa Mosque.
  • 1123: Pactum Warmundi alliance established between the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Republic of Venice.
  • 1131: Melisende became Queen of Jerusalem, later acting as regent for her son between 1153 and 1161 while he was on campaign. She was the eldest daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, and the Armenian princess Morphia of Melitene.
  • 1137: Zengi defeats Fulk of Jerusalem at the Battle of Ba'rin. Fulk was trapped in Ba'rin Castle, but released by Zengi on payment of a ransom.
  • 1138: St Anne's Church is built by Arda of Armenia, widow of Baldwin I of Jerusalem.
  • 1149: New Church of the Holy Sepulchre built.
  • 1141–73: Jerusalem is visited by Yehuda Halevi (1141), Maimonides (1165), Benjamin of Tudela (1173).
  • 1160: According to Benjamin of Tudela, messianic claimant David Alroy called his followers in Baghdad to join him on a mission to Jerusalem.
  • 1170–84: William of Tyre writes his magnum opus Historia Hierosolymitana.

Ayyubids and Second Crusader Kingdom Edit

The Crusader defeat at the Battle of Hattin leads to the end of the First Crusader Kingdom (1099–1187). During the Second Crusader Kingdom (1192–1291), the Crusaders can only gain a foothold in Jerusalem on a limited scale, twice through treaties (access rights in 1192 after the Treaty of Jaffa partial control 1229–39 after the Treaty of Jaffa and Tell Ajul), and again for a last time between 1241 and 1244. [57]


The Fall of Jerusalem I

Now that the Allied pursuit of the Turks up the Plain of Philistra had come to a natural end, General Allenby had to decide his next step. His original plan, after Jaffa had been captured, was to suspend further operations until his supply lines and communications had caught up with the rapid British advance. He wanted to ensure he was in a position to sustain his whole army at the front without difficulty before moving on. Units also needed to be restored to full strength and the troops given a period of rest after two weeks of hard campaigning when water and rations had been in short supply. As Private Blunt of the London Regiment commented: ‘Owing to casualties the battalion is now only just over half strength. Everyone seems just beat and worn out. I am as weak as a kitten, feeling done up all over. My face is covered in septic sores and my feet are all blistered.’

However, powerful political and military pressures suggested that the immediate suspension of offensive operations would be unwise. In the end there was no more than a day’s break in operations (on 17 November) before Allenby decided to press on to Jerusalem. In ordering an immediate renewal of hostilities the British would be able to take advantage of the fact that the Turkish Seventh Army would have had no time to regroup after its long retreat and its troops would be tired and demoralized. Its new base in the Judean hills was potentially strong but there would have been no opportunity to organize proper defences. Allenby was concerned that ‘if we had given the Turks time to organize a defence we should never have stormed the heights.’

At the same time, Allenby believed that it should be possible to contain the Turkish Eighth Army on the coastal plain while this new advance to Jerusalem took place. He accepted that there was, however, a risk of a Turkish counter-attack at Jaffa and Ludd. He was also aware that the War Cabinet had expressed concern at the risk of operating in the rugged and difficult terrain that separated the Allies from their goal of Jerusalem and, given that Allied troops were tired and their ranks depleted after the Gaza campaign, had advised extreme caution. As well as the hazard of winter rains that were due at any moment and could make a difficult route impassable, he was reminded of the possibility that a substantial part of his force could be withdrawn early in 1918 to meet manpower demands on the Western Front. Lloyd George’s earlier requirement that Jerusalem be captured before Christmas 1917 had been tempered by a recognition of the potentially dangerous circumstances in which Allenby’s troops now found themselves.

Allenby’s revised plans envisaged the creation of a new defensive line in the Plain of Philistra which would serve to protect the main Allied communications to the south. It would be located opposite the recently established Turkish line of defence based on the Nahr el Auja, a river some four miles north-east of Jaffa. This defensive role was allotted to the Anzac Division with support from the 54th Division. The main operation, which involved the bulk of his forces, consisted of an advance eastwards into the Judean hills towards Jerusalem. As Allenby wished to avoid fighting in the vicinity of Jerusalem – with the risk of damage to the holy city and the resulting propaganda advantage that would be handed to the enemy – he planned an encircling movement that would be much more difficult to execute than a direct attack. Once British units were within striking distance of the city they were to advance to the north-east, cutting Turkish communications by pivoting on the right and swinging to the left across the road between Nablus and Jerusalem. As essential supplies dried up, the enemy garrison would be forced to surrender or withdraw.

In these operations, units of XXI Corps were to play a leading part. The 75th Division (which consisted of West Country territorials) would advance up the main road from Jaffa to Jerusalem – the only one in the whole area with a metalled surface – as far as Kuryet el Enab. The 52nd Division (Lowland Scottish) would advance on its immediate left. To the left of the 52nd Division was the Yeomanry Mounted Division, which was ordered to advance on Bireh, ten miles to the north of Jerusalem, via Beit Ur el Foka. It would be joined by the 75th Division which was ordered to turn north-east to Bireh as it approached Jerusalem. The combined force would then cut the Nablus-Jerusalem road. This would disrupt the Turks’ main line of supply and force the enemy to evacuate the city.

The advance eastwards into the hills towards Jerusalem began on 18 November. The Australian Mounted Division was responsible for clearing the enemy from Latron, on the Jaffa–Jerusalem road, before the 75th Division prepared to move off. The Yeomanry Mounted Division began its advance towards Bireh. The two infantry divisions prepared to follow them: the 52nd Division started from Ludd and Ramleh, while the 75th began its advance from a position near Latron. Their move into the Judean hills began on 19 November, the same day that saw the outbreak of the heavy winter rains. The 75th Division advanced through Latron towards the villages of Saris and Kuryet el Enab, where the Turks had damaged the road in several places.

The 52nd Division and the Yeomanry Division had a much more difficult task. They soon found that the routes they had been ordered to follow were no more than unmade tracks that were often steep and difficult for all but mule transport to negotiate vehicles and guns could go no further and had to be returned to their starting points. As Guy Dawnay described it, the landscape was typically ‘very rough and rugged … Great hills overhanging deep valleys 1,500 or 2,000 feet almost sheer down in many places. Hill villages perched as in Italy on the tops of conical mountains. No roads – or only one, that to Jerusalem.’ The deteriorating weather added to British problems: troops were equipped for the extreme heat of Sinai and Gaza earlier in the year, rather than the cold and wet winter conditions that they now had to face. There was no early relief to the suffering of the rank and file as winter clothing was slow to arrive because of continuing transport bottlenecks.

Despite these constraints, however, some progress was made on the ground and during the course of 19 November the leading brigade of 52nd Division reached Beit Likia, while the Yeomanry advanced to Beit Ur el Tahta. By 20 November, the 75th Division had reached the villages of Saris and Kuryet el Enab. The Turks were strongly entrenched in ridges above these settlements and proved to be difficult to dislodge. The Turkish position at Saris fell during the afternoon but strong resistance was maintained on the ridge at Kuryet el Enab. On this occasion, for once, bad weather came to the aid of the British. Thick fog obscured the view of the Turkish gunners, giving the three British battalions the opportunity to charge the enemy positions without effective challenge. The result was that the entire ridge had been taken by the early evening, thus reopening the road towards Jerusalem. By this point, according to the official history, it was

pretty certain that the enemy meant to defend Jerusalem. Only small rearguard detachments had yet been encountered, and the great difficulty found in dislodging them from positions so admirably suited to their tactics augured ill for the moment drawing nigh when the Turks should be met with in strength.

The advance also continued on other parts of the front line. The 52nd made useful progress, but further to its left the Yeomanry Division was unable to reach Bireh, where it was charged with cutting the vital Nablus road. Instructed to capture Zeitun ridge to the west of Bireh, which was held by a determined enemy force of 3,000 troops and several artillery batteries, the yeomanry was initially unable to dislodge them. (It did in fact take it briefly on 21 November but was soon forced to relinquish it.) At this point for the first time, Falkenhayn’s strategy had been revealed. He left small rearguards to delay the progress of the Allied advance and thus gave the Turkish Seventh Army additional time to organize the defences surrounding Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the 75th Division continued its advance, turning north-east on 21 November towards Bireh and moving across the front of the 52nd Division on its left. The progress of the 75th Division was brought to a rapid halt when it discovered that its route to Bireh was completely blocked at Biddu. Here they encountered the dominating hill of Nebi Samweil, often described as the ‘key to Jerusalem’, which provided uninterrupted views of the city. The hill was taken by the 234th Brigade during the late evening, but the 52nd and 75th Divisions could make no further progress. Their attack on El Jib, the next important height beyond Nebi Samweil, on 22–24 November, was unsuccessful. Without substantial reinforcements, and in the absence of artillery support because of the lack of roads in the area north-west of Jerusalem, it was likely to stay beyond their reach. The Turkish defensive positions were held in strength and could not be dislodged by infantry action alone. General Allenby recognized that there was nothing to be gained by prolonging the fighting and, on 24 November, he ordered it to be broken off. The existing battle line was to be held and consolidated until fresh troops could be brought forward to renew the offensive.

The Turks made a concerted effort to recapture the Nebi Samweil height during the period 27–30 November but they were repulsed. Its defence was a brilliant feat of arms. Some 750 Turkish prisoners were taken during these few days. Fresh British forces now needed to be brought up to replace weary front-line troops who had been campaigning for three weeks in strenuous conditions. The first campaign to capture Jerusalem had stalled in face of the difficult terrain north-west of the capital where the British were unsupported by artillery the Turks on the other hand had more flexibility because the Jerusalem to Nablus road remained under their control. The British action, however – generally characterized, in the words of the official history, by ‘boldness’ and ‘determination’ – was not entirely without benefit as it had left them in a stronger position than if they had delayed an attack until the Turks had dug themselves in. Allenby was quite clear about the gains that had so far been secured:

The narrow passes from the plain to the plateau of the Judean range have seldom been forced, and have been fatal to many invading armies. Had the attempt not been made at once, or had it been pressed with less determination, the enemy would have had time to reinforce his defences in the passes lower down, and the conquest of the plateau would then have been slow, costly, and precarious. As it was, positions had been won from which the final attack could be prepared and delivered with good prospects of success.

In the meantime, there had been far less action on the coastal plain and it was only on the day that the first Battle of Jerusalem ended, 24 November, that the Anzacs were ordered to advance across the River Auja and establish a bridgehead. The aim was to keep the defending Turkish Eighth Army on its guard and to discourage the possible transfer of troops from the coast to the Jerusalem area. Following a successful action by the New Zealand Mounted Brigade, two battalions of the 54th Division held two small bridgeheads on the northern banks of the wadi for a brief period. The occupation was, however, short-lived as the British infantry was forced to withdraw when the Turks attacked in overwhelming strength on 25 November.

Following this action there was a lull in the fighting on both fronts while the British made preparations for a second attack on Turkish forces in the area. In better weather conditions, existing roads and tracks were improved and new ones constructed to enable heavy and field artillery to be placed in position and ammunition and supplies brought up. The water supply was also developed. The British front-line forces needed both renewal and reinforcement and Allenby decided that the effectiveness of his front-line troops would be enhanced if he were to exchange his forces in the Judean hills with those on the coast. Under these plans XX Corps would leave its coastal bases and move inland, while units of XXI Corps would move in the opposite direction. XX Corps, under Chetwode, assumed its new duties on 28 November.

It was inevitable that the Turks would seek to capitalize on this time of uncertainty and instability. Over the period of a week they launched a series of attacks designed to test the resilience of the British position, in particular exploiting the gap of some five miles that existed between the right of the line in the plain and the left of the force in the hills. Using the ‘shock tactics’ employed by German troops on the Western Front, the Turks achieved a series of short-lived successes at the end of November and early in December. However, as British reinforcements arrived, lost ground was recovered and gaps in the line were soon closed. By 3 December the Turks had abandoned their action.

By 7 December, the exchange of British forces had been completed and XX Corps was prepared to make a second attempt to overcome the Turkish defences that protected Jerusalem. The Turkish Seventh Army, which consisted of some 16,000 troops, remained strongly entrenched in the hills to the west of Jerusalem. However, its morale had been seriously damaged by a succession of setbacks and defeats and it was not clear how much more resistance it would offer before withdrawing. The renewed attack was led by General Chetwode, commander of XX Corps, who adopted a very different plan from that of his predecessor. The original plan, to pivot on the right of the British line with the left swinging across the Nablus road, had entailed crossing rugged country with poor access. It failed because rapid movement had been impossible and wheeled transport, including artillery, could not be deployed. The Turks, on the other hand, could use the Jerusalem–Nablus road to bring up reinforcements quickly to meet any British advance.

As outlined by Chetwode at a conference on 3 December, which was attended by his divisional commanders, the new plan sought to address the weaknesses inherent in the original attack. Chetwode decided to pivot at Nebi Samweil on the left, with his right advancing up the Enab–Jerusalem road and past the western suburbs before cutting the Nablus road immediately to the north of the city. This plan, unlike its predecessor, would enable the British to deploy sufficient artillery against the Turkish defences by using the Jaffa road for this purpose, one of the few routes in the area that had the capacity to handle it. The main attack would be carried out by the 60th and 74th Divisions. To protect their right flank, two brigades of the 53rd Division were to advance up the Hebron road towards Bethlehem, moving round the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem and cutting the city’s road links with Jericho.

During the four days before the attack the main units moved into position. The 10th Division was to operate on a wider front than had originally been envisaged. This gave the 74th Division the opportunity to work in support of the 60th Division at Nebi Samweil. Starting from a point south of the Enab–Jerusalem road, the 60th Division was to advance with its left flank on this road and its right almost touching the Hebron road, making use of the 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment and the Worcestershire Yeomanry to maintain contact with the 53rd Division. The 53rd was expected to be close to the Bethlehem defences before the attack began.

The British advance on Jerusalem began during the night of 7 December when the 179th Brigade of the 60th Division took the high ground south of Ain Karim. Private Wilson, 179th Machine Gun Corps, recorded his movements at the start of the operation:

We are moving tomorrow morning [7 December] for the Jerusalem operations. Apparently the place is to be ours by Sunday … We started off from Enab at nine in the morning … We were ordered to dump our packs, including bivvies and blankets, so we knew we were in for something hefty … we soon discovered why we had dumped our packs. We could never have got through with those burdens on our backs. The distance on the map which we went that night was roughly two miles as the crow flies. Not being crows, however, we had to do the journey as the donkey walks and found it a very different matter. Up hill and down ravine, winding about along ridges, and down precipitous hill paths, the whole way literally strewn with stones and boulders, it took us seven hours without a stop to traverse that two miles, ‘as the crow flies’.

The main attack followed at dawn in conditions that were less than favourable: it was cold, there was persistent heavy rain and visibility was restricted because of mist. These latter two factors slowed the pace of the advance, although the Allies were faced with a less energetic Turkish defence than they had experienced on other occasions since entering Palestine. On the Allied left, however, the 74th Division was delayed by enfilade fire from Turkish positions on Nebi Samweil. The heaviest fighting took place on the front covered by the 60th Division, which eventually prevailed against the enemy, capturing the main Turkish defences west of Jerusalem shortly after dawn. These defences, which in places were carved out of rock, should have been difficult to overcome. However, as Wavell explained, ‘the Londoners [of the 60th Division] attacked with their usual dash, and the Turks defended with less than their usual tenacity’. As a result of the adverse weather conditions, the 60th Division had lost touch with the 53rd Division on its right. With its right flank unprotected, the 60th Division was exposed to attack.

During the course of the afternoon, offensive operations were suspended to enable the British to regroup. According to the same British private, conditions for the advancing troops remained difficult in the hours leading up to the Turkish evacuation of Jerusalem:

Our quarters for the next twenty-four hours were against a ledge of rock surmounted by a stone wall which proved effective cover for shrapnel. This ledge of rock was near the top of the ravine on the side of it opposite the road … All the morning Johnnie kept shelling the road but his range was inaccurate, and every shell fell into the ravine. Our little mountain guns were also busy speaking back. Towards evening a party was sent down to the village, who brought back water and some most welcome blankets and bits of carpet. Under the wall we kipped for the night, preserving some small warmth beneath these scant coverings … About ten o’clock over came about half a dozen more shells into the ravine. These, had we known it, were Johnnie’s parting shots.

The British had intended to renew their advance towards the Nablus road the next day, but by then it was evident that the city was about to fall into their hands. The impact of the British attack – particularly the apparent loss of their main defences – had been sufficient to convince the Turks that their position was untenable. This was underlined by the fact that panic had spread among several Turkish units after the loss of the defensive works. As explained by Kress, the British secured the city by a ‘lucky chance’:

The capture of a small sector of the Turkish front-line trench by a British patrol on the night of 7 December was magnified by a false report into the loss of the whole of the western defences. Ali Fuad, the commander, having received orders from the army group to withdraw on Jericho in case of the loss of Jerusalem, feared to execute a counter-attack lest he should be unable after it to carry out these orders, and therefore evacuated the holy city forthwith.


Contents

In 1841, the district was separated from Damascus Eyalet and placed directly under Constantinople [4] and formally created as an independent Mutasarrifate in 1872. Before 1872, the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem was officially a sanjak within the Syria Vilayet (created in 1864, following the Tanzimat reforms).

The southern border of the Mutasarifate of Jerusalem was redrawn in 1906, at the instigation of the British, who were interested in safeguarding their imperial interests and in making the border as short and patrollable as possible. [14]

In the mid-19th century the inhabitants of Palestine identified themselves primarily in terms of religious affiliation. The population was 84% Muslim Arabs, 10% Christian Arabs, 5% Jewish, and 1% Druze Arabs. [13] Towards the end of the 19th century, the idea that the region of Palestine or the Mutasarifate of Jerusalem formed a separate political entity became widespread among the district's educated Arab classes. In 1904, former Jerusalem official Najib Azuri formed in Paris, France the Ligue de la Patrie Arabe ("Arab Fatherland League") whose goal was to free Ottoman Syria and Iraq from Turkish domination. In 1908, Azuri proposed the elevation of the mutassarifate to the status of vilayet to the Ottoman Parliament [5] after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution.

The area was conquered by the Allied Forces in 1917 during World War I [6] and a military Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA South) set up to replace the Ottoman administration. OETA South consisted of the Ottoman sanjaks of Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre. The military administration was replaced by a British civilian administration in 1920 and the area of OETA South became the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1923, with some border adjustments with Lebanon and Syria.

Below are seven contemporary Ottoman maps showing the "Quds Al-Sharif Sancağı" or "Quds Al-Sharif Mutasarrıflığı". The fourth map shows the 1860 borders between Ottoman Syria and the Khedivate of Egypt, although the border was moved to the current Israel-Egypt border in 1906, and the area north of the Negev Desert is labelled "Filastin" (Palestine).


Contents

The Kingdom of Jerusalem, weakened by internal disputes, was defeated at the Battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187. Most of the nobility were taken prisoner, including King Guy. Thousands of Muslim slaves were freed. [2] [3] [4] By mid-September, Saladin had taken Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Toron, Sidon, Beirut, and Ascalon. The survivors of the battle and other refugees fled to Tyre, the only city able to hold out against Saladin, due to the fortuitous arrival of Conrad of Montferrat.

In Tyre, Balian of Ibelin had asked Saladin for safe passage to Jerusalem to retrieve his wife Maria Komnene, Queen of Jerusalem and their family. Saladin granted his request, provided that Balian not take up arms against him and not remain in Jerusalem for more than one day however, upon arrival in the holy city, Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, Queen Sibylla, and the rest of the inhabitants begged him to take charge of the defense of the city. Heraclius, who argued that he must stay for the sake of Christianity, offered to absolve him of the oath, and Balian agreed.

He sent word of his decision to Saladin at Ascalon via a deputation of burgesses, who rejected the sultan's proposals for a negotiated surrender of Jerusalem however, Saladin arranged for an escort to accompany Maria, their children, and all their household to Tripoli. As the highest-ranking lord remaining in Jerusalem, according to the chronicler Ibn al-Athir, Balian was seen by the Muslims as holding a rank "more or less equal to that of a king." [5]

Balian found the situation in Jerusalem dire. The city was filled with refugees fleeing Saladin's conquests, with more arriving daily. There were fewer than fourteen knights in the whole city, so he created sixty new knights from the ranks of the squires (knights in training) and burgesses. He prepared for the inevitable siege by storing food and money. The armies of Syria and Egypt assembled under Saladin, and after conquering Acre, Jaffa, and Caesarea, though he unsuccessfully besieged Tyre, the sultan arrived outside Jerusalem on September 20. [6]

After a brief reconnoitre around the city, Saladin's army came to a rest before the Tower of David and the Damascus Gate. [6] His archers continually pelted the ramparts with arrows. Siege towers/belfries were rolled up to the walls but were pushed back each time. For six days, skirmishes were fought with little result. Saladin's forces suffered heavy casualties after each assault. On September 26, Saladin moved his camp to a different part of the city, on the Mount of Olives where there was no major gate from which the crusaders could counter-attack. The walls were constantly pounded by the siege engines, catapults, mangonels, petraries, Greek fire, crossbows, and arrows. A portion of the wall was mined, and it collapsed on September 29. The crusaders were unable to push Saladin's troops back from the breach, but at the same time, the Muslims could not gain entrance to the city. Soon there were only a few dozen knights and a handful of remaining men-at-arms defending the wall, as no more men could be found even for the promise of an enormous fee. [7]

The civilians were in great despair. According to a passage possibly written by Ernoul, a squire of Balian, in the Old French Continuation of William of Tyre, the clergy organized a barefoot procession around the walls, much as the clergy on the First Crusade had done outside the walls in 1099. At Mount Calvary, women cropped their children's hair, after immersing them chin-deep in basins of cold water. These penances were aimed at turning away God's wrath from the city, but "…Our Lord did not deign to hear the prayers or noise that was made in the city. For the stench of adultery, of disgusting extravagance and of sin against nature would not let their prayers rise to God." [8]

At the end of September, Balian rode out with an envoy to meet with the sultan, offering surrender. Saladin told Balian that he had sworn to take the city by force, and would only accept an unconditional surrender. [9] Saladin told Balian that Saladin's banner had been raised on the city wall, but his army was driven back. Balian threatened that the defenders would destroy the Muslim holy places, slaughter their own families and the 5000 Muslim slaves, and burn all the wealth and treasures of the Crusaders. [10] Saladin, who wanted to take the city with as little bloodshed of his fellow Muslims as possible, insisted that the Crusaders were to unconditionally surrender but could leave by paying a ransom of ten dinars for men, five for women and two for children those who couldn't pay would be enslaved. Balian told him that there were 20,000 in the city who could never pay that amount. Saladin proposed a total of 100,000 dinars to free all the 20,000 Crusaders who were unable to pay. Balian complained that the Christian authorities could never raise such a sum. He proposed that 7,000 of them would be freed for a sum of 30,000 dinars, and Saladin agreed. [11]

On Balian's orders, the Crusaders surrendered the city to Saladin's army on October 2. The take-over of the city was relatively peaceful especially in contrast to the Crusader siege of the city in 1099. Balian paid 30,000 dinars for freeing 7,000 of those unable to pay from the treasury of the city. The large golden Christian cross that had been placed over the Dome of the Rock by the Crusaders was pulled down and all Muslim prisoners of war taken by the Crusaders were released by Saladin. According to the Kurdish scholar and historian Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad, these numbered close to 3,000. Saladin allowed many of the noblewomen of the city to leave without paying any ransom. For example, a Byzantine queen living a monastic life in the city was allowed to leave the city with her retinue and associates, as was Sibylla, the queen of Jerusalem and wife of the captured King Guy. Saladin also granted her safe passage to visit her captive husband in Nablus. The native Christians were allowed to remain in the city while those of Crusader origin were allowed to leave Jerusalem for other lands along with their goods through a safe passage via Akko by paying a ransom of 10 dinars. Saladin's brother Al-Adil was moved by the sight and asked Saladin for 1,000 of them as a reward for his services. Saladin granted his wish and Al-Adil immediately released them all. Heraclius, upon seeing this, asked Saladin for some slaves to liberate. He was granted 700 while Balian was granted 500 and all of them were freed by them. All the aged people who could not pay the ransom were freed by orders of Saladin and allowed to leave the city. Saladin then proceeded to free 1,000 more captives upon request of Muzaffar al-Din Ibn Ali Kuchuk, who claimed they were from his hometown of Urfa. In order to control the departing population, Saladin ordered the gates of the city to be closed. At each gate of the city, a commander was placed to check the movement of the Crusaders and make sure only those who paid the ransom left the city. Saladin then assigned some of his officers the job of ensuring the safe arrival of the Crusaders in Christian lands. 15,000 of those who could not pay the ransom were sold into slavery. According to Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani, 7,000 of them were men and 8,000 were women and children. [12]

On Saladin's orders, the ransomed inhabitants marched away in three columns accompanied by 50 cavalrymen of Saladin's army. The Knights Templar and Hospitallers led the first two, with Balian and the Patriarch leading the third. Balian joined his wife and family in the County of Tripoli. The refugees first reached Tyre, where only men who could fight were allowed to enter by Conrad of Montferrat. The remaining refugees went to the County of Tripoli, which was under Crusader control. They were denied entrance and robbed of their possessions by raiding parties from within the city. Most of the less affluent refugees went to Armenian and Antiochian territories and were later successful in gaining entrance into Antioch. The remaining refugees fled from Ascalon to Alexandria, where they were housed in makeshift stockades and received hospitable treatment from the city officials and elders. They then boarded Italian ships which arrived from Pisa, Genoa and Venice in March 1188. The captains of the ships at first refused to take the refugees since they were not being paid for them and did not have supplies for them. The governor of Alexandria, who had earlier taken the oars of the ships for payment of taxes, refused to grant sailing permits to the captains until they agreed. The latter then agreed to take the refugees along with them and were made to swear decent treatment and safe arrival of the refugees before they left. [13] [14]

After the surrender of the city, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was ordered to be closed for three days by Saladin while he considered what to do with it. Some of his advisers told him to destroy the Church in order to end all Christian interest in Jerusalem. Most of his advisers, however, told him to spare the Church, saying that Christian pilgrimages would continue anyway because of the sanctity of the place and also reminded him of the Caliph Umar, who allowed the Church to remain in Christian hands after conquering the city. Saladin ultimately decided not to destroy the church, saying that he had no intention to discourage Christian pilgrimages to the site it was reopened after three days on his orders. The Frankish pilgrims were allowed to enter the church upon paying a fee. To solidify Muslim claims to Jerusalem, many holy sites, including the shrine known as Al-Aqsa Mosque, were ritually purified with rose water. Christian furnishings were removed from the mosque and it was fitted with oriental carpets. Its walls were illuminated with candelabras and text from the Quran. The Orthodox Christians and Syriacs were allowed to remain and to worship as they chose. The Copts, who were barred from entering Jerusalem by the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem as they were considered heretics and atheists, were allowed to enter the city without paying any fees by Saladin as he considered them his subjects. The Coptic places of worship that were earlier taken over by the Crusaders were returned to the Coptic priests. The Copts were also allowed to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other Christian sites. The Abyssinian Christians were allowed to visit the holy places of Jerusalem without paying any fees. [15] [16] [13]

The Byzantine emperor, Isaac Angelus, sent a message to Saladin congratulating him on taking the city, requesting him to convert all the churches in the city back to the Orthodox church and all Christian ceremonies to be performed according to the Greek Orthodox liturgy. His request was granted and the rights of other confessions were preserved. The local Christians were allowed to pray freely in their churches and the control of Christian affairs was handed over to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. [15] [16]

Saladin went on to capture a number of other castles that were still holding out against him, including Belvoir, Kerak, and Montreal, and returned to Tyre to besiege it for a second time.

Meanwhile, news of the disastrous defeat at Hattin was brought to Europe by Joscius, Archbishop of Tyre, as well as other pilgrims and travellers, while Saladin was conquering the rest of the kingdom throughout the summer of 1187. Plans were immediately made for a new crusade on October 29, Pope Gregory VIII issued the bull Audita tremendi, even before hearing of the fall of Jerusalem. In England and France, the Saladin tithe was enacted in order to finance expenses. The Third Crusade did not get underway until 1189, in three separate contingents led by Richard I of England, Philip II of France, and Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Much of the film Kingdom of Heaven focuses on the siege, though this version is highly fictionalized and highly inaccurate. [ citation needed ]


The Ottomans surrendered Jerusalem to Britain on 9 December 1917. The Ottoman Army withdrew its troops and surrendered the Holy City to British command with a letter from the city’s governor:

“For the past two days, bombs have been raining on Jerusalem, holy to all communities. Therefore, the Ottoman Government, in order to safeguard the religious places from ruin and destruction, has withdrawn its forces from the city and has commissioned officials to take care of the religious places like the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hoping that your treatment will also be similar…”

Two days later, Allenby entered the Holy City on foot through the Jaffa gate, becoming the 34th conqueror of Jerusalem. The fighting started on 17 November and continued until 30 December, three weeks after Jerusalem’s surrender.

Upon Allenby’s entry, a proclamation declaring martial law and Jerusalem under siege was read aloud in English, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian and Greek, in which Allenby assured the people that Britain would not harm Jerusalem, its residents, or its holy sites.

“Since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for centuries, therefore do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”

Allenby reportedly declared, “The wars of the Crusades are now complete,” and then British Prime Minister David Lloyd George described the capture of Jerusalem as “a Christmas present for the British people.”


Political Opinion: When Jerusalem Fell to the British in 1917

As December 9th marks the anniversary of the first Intifadah (1987), it marks also the anniversary of the British occupation of Jerusalem in 1917. On that day, the British ended seven centuries of continuous Islamic rule of Jerusalem after its liberation from the Crusaders. On 31/10/1914, the Ottoman State declared war on Britain and four years later, they signed an armistice agreement that came into force on 31/10/1918. However, it came after Britain had completed its occupation of Palestine, the rest of al-Sham and Iraq, while the withdrawal of the Ottomans from the rest of Yemen and Hijaz was being arranged.

In this article, we continue with thoughts regarding the fall of Jerusalem, as we started in a previous article with ones concerning the end of the Ottoman rule in Palestine.

First: Despite the weakness and exhaustion of the Ottoman State, the British occupation of Palestine was not as easy as some believe. For in the first two years of war, the British lived under difficult conditions at the Palestine front, where the Ottomans were the side with the initiative and power. They carried out two major attacks on British troops in Egypt, and kept the control of parts of Sinai during the 1915–1916 period. The British troops couldn’t regain control of Sinai except by the end of 1916, when they controlled al-Arish on 21/12/1916 and the Egyptian Rafah on 8–9/1/1917.

Second: The British started their attempt to occupy Palestine in the Spring of 1917, when they had their backs covered at the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, a supporting Arab belt formed from the Red Sea to the Arab Gulf, Baghdad fell to them on 11/3/1917, and al-Sham’s support for the revolt of Sharif Hussein strengthened, which practically meant support of the British, in addition to the trouble caused by the revolt against the Ottomans.

As for the first British assault on Palestine, known as the First Battle of Gaza, on 25–27/3/1917, it suffered a drastic defeat, despite the fact that the British forces were five-fold the Ottoman’s and were better trained and equipped. According to General Sir Archibald Murray, the British lost 4,450 killed and wounded. Also, the second British assault in the Second Battle of Gaza suffered another drastic defeat, where six thousand British soldiers were either killed, injured or imprisoned, while the Ottomans suffered 1,670 killed, injured or missing. After these two failures, the British War Office replaced on 28/6/1917 Murray with General Edmund Allenby as commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary force,.

Third: On 27/10/1917, the British launched their invasion, which continued for six weeks and ended with the occupation of southern Palestine reaching the Jerusalem-Jaffa line. Allenby had re-prepared the British army for the attack by about one hundred thousand soldiers (excluding reinforcements and remounts) facing 20 thousand Ottoman soldiers. The former was fully provided with clothes, food, shelter and health care, whereas the latter faced great difficulties in leadership, armament, capabilities and supply. The Ottoman soldier was, as described in the memoirs of Khalil Sakakini on 21/11/1917, “hungry, with ragged clothes and ripped shoes, nothing protects him from rain and hail, standing behind his cannon muttering about the cold, famished, finding nothing but dried crumbs of bread”!!

The British occupied Beersheba on 31/10/1917, and Gaza a week later. Lod and Ramleh were occupied on November 15th, and Jaffa on the next day. The Arab attacks contributed in cutting off the Ottoman troops in Ma‘an, Tabuk and Hijaz, where 23 thousand soldiers were cut off.

Fourth: On December 8th, Ottoman troops suffered dire conditions in Jerusalem, and Ali Fuat Cebesoy, the commander of the XX Corps, knew that defending the city is impossible, so he decided to evacuate the holy city to save it from annihilation. In the afternoon, Jerusalem’s Mayor Hussein al-Husseini delivered the city’s surrender note to the British commander of the 10th Battalion, and the British army entered the city from three sides. As for Allenby’s formal entry into Jerusalem, it occurred on 11/12/1917, along with the French and Italian commanders of the Allied detachments, and there wasn’t any Arab Revolt representation. In his memoirs, Emile al-Ghouri mentioned that at the end of Allenby’s speech to the city’s leaders and dignitaries he said, “only now have the crusades ended”.. provoking resentment among the audience and prompting the Mufti of Jerusalem, Kamel al-Husseini, to leave the ceremony in protest, and was followed with others.

The losses of the British forces in the battles to occupy Palestine including Jerusalem (31/10–11/12/1917), and despite their overwhelming military superiority, prove that they faced fierce resistance. For the British (according to their documents) have suffered 19 thousand casualties, and they estimated the Ottoman losses at 15 thousand killed and 12 thousand prisoners.

Fifth: The British waited more than nine months to occupy the rest of Palestine. They tried to attack East Jordan and the north of Palestine on 22/3–3/4/1918, but failed. However, on 19/9/1918, when they launched their main attack, their army—led by Allenby—numbered 468 thousand, among which 100 thousand were combatants. Notably, the Indians in this “British” army outnumbered the British (51,400 Indian vs 48,400 British), and in the reinforcements and remounts there were 112 thousand Indians and 227 thousand British. In addition, 129 thousand Egyptians were in the Labour Corps, of whom none were combatants. Here, it is noted that the British colonialism took advantage of its colonies in India and Egypt and used the colonized as “fuel” for its wars and serving its interests.

As for the Ottoman army, it numbered 104 thousand, among which 29 thousand were combatants. The Seventh Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in Nablus and the Eighth Army commanded by Cevat Pasha in Tulkarm were in charge of protecting the north of Palestine, while the Fourth Army commander was Jamal Pasha in Amman.

It took the British around one week to finish occupying the rest of Palestine, and they occupied the rest of al-Sham during October 1918. The Secretary of State of War Sir Laming Worthington-Evans admitted later (in the House of Commons session, on 19/6/1922) that “the numbers killed, including [those who] died of wounds or disease, were 16,366 in Egypt and Palestine..[and] the number wounded were 38,090.” It is noteworthy that these numbers exceed the losses the Israelis admitted having over the past seventy years, from the 1948 war and till now.

Sixth: Undoubtedly, and as we pointed out earlier, the impact of the Arab Revolt headed by Sharif Hussein was huge. It broke the morale of the Ottoman army, and military desertion was in high numbers. People increasingly believed that as war ended, the promised Arab state would be established, and huge sections considered the British allies rather than enemies, which facilitated to the British the implementation of their plans. On 5/10/1917 (three weeks before the attack), Allenby sent a letter to the Commander-in-Chief indicating that his calculations concerning the occupation of southern Palestine are based on that the Arabs’ conditions will remain satisfactory and that the men of Sharif Hussein will cover his wing and communication in the East. He confirmed that the continuation of their support depends on their continued belief that the British will honor their commitments. This infers that the British needed to continue their “deception” of their Arab allies against the Ottomans.

Despite all of that, a reasonable number of Palestinians (and the rest of the countries under Ottoman rule) remained loyal to the Ottomans, for they didn’t trust the British, and may be they doubted the usefulness of the Revolt of Sharif Hussein. According to the renowned historian Ihsan al-Nimr, who lived during that period, when Ottoman army deserters learned of the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, many of them re-enlisted in it. He also mentioned that there was no trace of the Arab Revolt in Nablus. In addition, British reports indicated that even after the British occupation of southern Palestine and before the occupation of its northern part, several areas and tribes remained loyal to the Ottomans.

Seventh: The Palestinian Consensus didn’t budge in their refusal of the Zionist project, and the anti-British sentiments rapidly intensified when their deceit was revealed, when they did not honor their commitments and when they practically adopted the Zionist project. Soon afterwards, during the first few months of the continuation of the British occupation of Palestine, secret paramilitary societies began to form, so that in case of a revolution they would militarily interfere. Thus, in 1919, a fedayeen (freedom fighters) society was founded, and it was headquartered in Jaffa with branches in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarm, Ramleh and Gaza. On 4/11/1919, a British Marine Corps intelligence report stated that the pro-Turkish sentiments were rising in Muslim societies, with low and middle classes supporting the Turks. Papers advocating Islamic thought were being distributed, while enmity towards Zionism was increasing in all segments of society, and the movement has taken a very hostile stance towards the British.

Matters didn’t take long before the Palestinian National Movement regained the initiation capability, with Arab and Islamic support. It unified its ranks in demanding the end of British occupation and abolishing the Zionist project. Soon after, in April 1920, the first uprising of the Palestinian people erupted.

This article was originally published in Arabic on “arabi21.com” on 21/12/2018.


Unbroken Jewish Life in Jerusalem Under Ottoman Rule (1517 – 1917)

In the year 1517, the Ottoman Empire conquered Jerusalem and the rest of the Land of Israel from the Mamluks during yet another fierce and bloody battle for the Holy City. During the 400 years of the Ottoman Empire’s rule over the Land of Israel, the Jewish People continued an unbroken chain of living in Jerusalem and other key cities in the Land. During this time, Jerusalem remained an undivided city, as it had been for the thousands of years beforehand under the rule of many different empires. Jewish families were settled and well-rooted in Jerusalem well before the Ottoman armies conquered the region. The Jews continued living there with much devotion despite many hardships, and over the centuries, the community continued to grow. No other people maintained this unbroken chain of living in Jerusalem.

Following the Ottoman conquest in 1517, the Land of Israel was divided into four districts and attached administratively to the province of Damascus and ruled from Istanbul. At the outset of the Ottoman era, an estimated 1,000 Jewish families lived in the country, mainly in Jerusalem, Nablus (Shechem), Hebron, Gaza, Safad (Tzfat) and the villages of Galilee. The community was comprised of descendants of Jews who had never left the Land as well as immigrants from North Africa and Europe.

Orderly government, until the death (1566) of Sultan Suleiman the Magificent, brought improvements and stimulated Jewish immigration. Some newcomers settled in Jerusalem, but the majority went to Safad where, by mid-16th century, the Jewish population had risen to about 10,000, and the town had become a thriving textile center as well as the focus of intense intellectual activity. During this period, the study of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) flourished, and contemporary clarifications of Jewish law, as codified in the Shulhan Arukh, spread throughout the Diaspora from the study houses in Safad.


From the Romans to the Persians to the Romans to the Arabs

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, it was rebuilt as a typical Roman city known as Aelia Capitolina. Jews were not allowed into the city at all — a rule enforced by capital punishment — except on the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av, a day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, among other catastrophes. However, as Enjoy Jerusalem explains, after Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 324 CE, the emperor Constantine and his successors ordered the construction of Christian holy sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, throughout the city. During the Byzantine period, Jerusalem, still called Aelia, became one of the five key cities for Christianity, along with Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. For the next three centuries, Jerusalem enjoyed relative stability under the Byzantines. You can probably guess, however, that this was not to last.

In the early seventh century, Jerusalem passed hands from the Byzantines to the Persians and back before being besieged again in 636 CE by Arab Muslims. Jerusalem was (and is) one of the holiest cities in Islam, and the conquering Arabs brought in substantial construction projects to Islamicize the city. Most notably, they built the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in all of Islam, both on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple. Jerusalem enjoyed another period of relative, temporary stability under the Umayyad caliphate.


Pre-State Israel: Under Ottoman Rule

Following the Ottoman conquest in 1517, the Land was divided into four districts and attached administratively to the province of Damascus and ruled from Istanbul. At the outset of the Ottoman era, an estimated 1,000 Jewish families lived in the country, mainly in Jerusalem, Nablus (Shechem), Hebron, Gaza, Safed (Tzfat) and the villages of Galilee. The community was comprised of descendants of Jews who had never left the Land as well as immigrants from North Africa and Europe.

Orderly government, until the death (1566) of Sultan Suleyman the Magificent, brought improvements and stimulated Jewish immigration. Some newcomers settled in Jerusalem, but the majority went to Safed where, by mid-16th century, the Jewish population had risen to about 10,000, and the town had become a thriving textile center as well as the focus of intense intellectual activity. During this period, the study of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) flourished, and contemporary clarifications of Jewish law, as codified in the Shulhan Arukh, spread throughout the Diaspora from the study houses in Safad.

With a gradual decline in the quality of Ottoman rule, the country was brought to a state of widespread neglect. By the end of the 18th century, much of the land was owned by absentee landlords and leased to impoverished tenant farmers, and taxation was as crippling as it was capricious. The great forests of Galilee and the Carmel mountain range were denuded of trees swamp and desert encroached on agricultural land.

The 19th century saw the first signs of progress, with various Western powers jockeying for position, often through missionary activities. British, French and American scholars launched studies of biblical geography and archeology Britain, France, Russia, Austria and the United States opened consulates in Jerusalem. Steamships began to ply regular routes between the Land and Europe postal and telegraphic connections were installed the first road was built connecting Jerusalem and Jaffa. The Land's rebirth as a crossroads for commerce of three continents was accelerated by the opening of the Suez Canal.

Consequently, the condition of the country's Jews slowly improved, and their numbers increased substantially. By mid-century, overcrowded conditions within the walled city of Jerusalem motivated the Jews to build the first neighborhood outside the walls (1860) and, in the next quarter century, to add seven more, forming the nucleus of the New City. By 1880, Jerusalem had an overall Jewish majority. Land for farming was purchased throughout the country new rural settlements were set up and the Hebrew language, long restricted to liturgy and literature, was revived. The stage was being set for the founding of the Zionist movement.

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Watch the video: The Siege of Jerusalem 70 AD - The Great Jewish Revolt FULL DOCUMENTARY (May 2022).