Article - The War of Independence
The War of Independence 1947-1949
The three stamps included in this sheet represent the three battle fonts of Israel: the central front, represented by the battles at the Castel, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, between the 2nd and 9th of April 1948; the northern front, represented by the battle for Zefat and liberation of the Jewish quarter in Zefat in May 1948; the southern front represented by the raising of the Israeli flag in Eilat on March 10th, 1949, marking the termination of combat in the War of Independence. At the beginning of the War of Independence, the Arabs in Castel village (situated on a high mountain overlooking the main road, some 5 kms west of Jerusalem) began unceasing attacks n Jewish transportation, blocking the road and sniping at vehicles, causing considerable losses of life and property. When these acts of sabotage increased, the village was captured by a company of the Fourth Battalion of the Palmach and a company of the Etzioni Brigade. After 5 days of fierce fighting, the village was taken back by thousands of Arabs, led by Abd El-Kader El-Husseiny, who was killed on the battlefield. In this battle, Palmach officer Shimon Alfassi gave the historic command: Commanders will stay and cover their solders’ retreat. On the 9th of April, the Castel was recaptured by the same Palmach company and has, since then, been under Israeli sovereignty.
1,500 Jews resided in the mixed city of Zefat, surrounded by some 12,000 hostile Arabs, urban and rural. The British Army vacated Zefat on April 16th and offered to evacuate all the non-military Jewish population from the Jewish quarter. The Jewish high command rejected the Britsh gesture and decided to capture the entire Zefat area instead. In order to lead this offensive Yigal Alon was given command of the Upper Galilee. Two Palmach battalions surrounded Zefat by capturing the Arab villages north of the city (the third battalion) and south of it (the first battalion). The third battalion joined the Jewish quarter and conquered the city fort, thus controlling the entire city. After one failed attempt, this battalion managed to get control of Zefat on May 11th, 1948. The Arabs fled in thousands, including the Syrian commander Adib Shishakly. Later the Rabbi of Zefat told Yigal Alon that Zefat was rescued due to an action and a miracle. The action was: round the clock prayer kept up by Zefat Jews from the time British troops left town; and the miracle was: the arrival of the Palmach.
Eilat was captured from the Jordanian army on March 10th 1949 by the Negev and Golani brigades, during the Uvda Operation, the last of the Israeli Defense Forces operations in the War of Independence. A flag was raised near the Eilat beach by the Negev brigade advance guard. The soldiers, who discovered they did not have a flag at hand, quickly improvised a flag, by drawing in ink on a bed sheet. When the Golani advance guard arrived two hours later, the two brigade commanders, Nachum Sarig and Nachum Golan, sent the following telegram to the front commander, Yigal Alon: Inform the Government of Israel, on the birthday f the “Hagana” – eleventh of Adar, the Palmach Negev brigade and the Golani brigade, hand over the Gulf of Eilat to the State of Israel. Eilat (Um Rashrash) the ninth of Adar, 10.3.1949, 16:00 hous.
Description of the Souvenir Sheet
On he background f contemporary photographs of Zefat, Jerusalem Sha’ar Hagai and Eilat, the following details appear:
Zefat stamp: Photograph of Palmach warriors and citizens of Zefat, by kind permission of the ADF archives and the archives of Beit Hameiri Museum in Zefat. Photograph of the Zefat Postage stamp, issued by the Hagana in Zefat on May 4th, 1948.
Jerusalem stamp: Photograph of armored vehicles on the road to Jerusalem. Drawing, The Castel Conquered, by Arieh Navon 1948. The War of Independence decoration.
Eilat stamp: Photograph of the raising of the Ink Flag. Photographer Mr. Micha Perry, by kind permission of the IDF archives.