The Battle for Jerusalem, 1948

Lying in front of the Jerusalem railway station abandoned by British troops, members of the Arab Liberation Army guard their post against a possible Haganah attack on May 7, 1948.


Bettmann / Getty Images

In May 1948, amid the fervent battles for control over Jerusalem following the UN Partition Plan of Palestine that was proposed in November 1947, members of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) are depicted standing guard at the Jerusalem railway station in what was the New City, north of the German Colony and south of the Old City, in anticipation of potential attacks from the Haganah. This strategic post, situated along the main road to Bethlehem and southern Palestine, was abandoned by the Colonial British Mandate Forces who refrained from intervening as tensions between Arabs and Jews escalated1 before their withdrawal from Palestine on May 15, 1948.

The ALA, also known as the Arab Salvation Army and Arab Rescue Army, was among various Arab military factions whose defensive actions played a crucial role in resisting the Jewish takeover of the entire city. Established by the Arab League, it comprised several thousand volunteers from different Arab nations, under the leadership of Fawzi al-Qawuqji, with a contingent stationed in Jerusalem numbering in the hundreds.2

This photograph, one of the earliest to reach New York due to communication disruptions in Palestine, was dispatched via courier to Cairo before being flown to New York.



Musa K. Budeiri, “A Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold: The Battle for Jerusalem in the Memoirs of Anwar Nusseibeh,” Jerusalem Quarterly 12, no. 11 (2001).


Haim Levenberg, Military Preparations of the Arab Community in Palestine 1945–1948 (London: Frank Cass, 1993).

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