Friday, August 29, 2014

Filled Under:

WWI in GAZA

After my first tour in the Holy Land in 1983, I acquired a Bible that included maps of the ancient kingdoms all the way back to the time of Moses. The Kingdom of Gaza is depicted in all of them. It was at this time I first came to appreciate that the Beginning of the World occurred in the Middle East, and that the End of the World will take place there . . . S.L.

The Camel Corps in Beersheba

The First World War in Gaza and the Battle for Palestine

The oasis of Gaza — the last outpost before the Sinai desert — has for thousands of years been a strategic objective for conquerors of all kinds. Any Middle Eastern empire had to control Gaza in order to confront Egypt, and any campaign towards the Nile Valley had to be launched westward from Gaza. From Alexander the Great in 332 bc to the Ottomans in 1516, control of Gaza was a prerequisite for confronting Egypt.

‘Muster on the Plain of Esdraelon, preparatory to the attack on the Canal.’

Any power ruling Egypt had to control Gaza in order to break through Palestine and the wider Levant, which is why the Pharaohs, the Ptolemaic dynasty, the Mameluks and even Bonaparte in 1799 sent expeditions from Egypt to conquer Gaza, before marching north along the Mediterranean coast. The strategic road through Gaza was called ‘Horus’s Path’ by the Egyptians, ‘Via Maris’ by the Romans and the ‘Sultan’s Way’ by the Mameluks.

World War One witnessed the last clash between two empires fighting for control of Gaza as part of the struggle for Palestine and the wider Middle East. The Ottomans concluded a secret alliance in August 1914 with Germany. Sultan Mehmed V had the formal status of Caliph, but was by then the creature of the Young Turks, who devised with Berlin a baroque version of ‘jihad made in Germany’: the Caliph would declare jihad against the French, British and Russian ‘infidels’, while German agents would disseminate this declaration in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, hoping to foment trouble in their adversaries’ colonies.

Berlin had nevertheless overestimated the prestige of the Ottoman Caliph among non-Turkish Muslims. ‘Jihad made in Germany’ proved a flop but London was in no mood for further strategic disturbance and imposed a fully-fledged protectorate over Egypt, after thirty-two years of British domination. The Jerusalem-based Jamal Pasha sent an Ottoman army through the Sinai down to the Suez Canal. It was defeated there in February 1915 and withdrew to the relative safety of Gaza, leaving only a few Ottoman outposts in the desert peninsula.

An Ottoman machine gun corps defending the Gaza line during the Second Battle of Gaza, April 1917.

In March 1916 General Archibald Murray assembled an Egyptian expeditionary force that comprised significant Australian and New Zealand contingents. Nine months later, the British conquest of El-Arish completed the restoration of imperial rule over Sinai. A coastal railway was built to provision the Allied troops camping at the gates of Gaza, with water pipes running across the desert from the Canal. But Murray failed miserably in two frontal assaults on Gaza, in March and April 1917, suffering more than 10,000 losses (twice as many as were inflicted on its defenders).

Murray was replaced in June, following the Battle of Arras, by General Edmund Allenby. The new commander linked up with the Arab insurgents who had conquered Aqaba and were harassing Ottoman troops in the Negev desert. (This Bedouin army was led by British advisors, notably T.E. Lawrence a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia - S.L.)

Allenby planned a coordinated assault on Gaza and Beersheba, the main oasis of the Negev. From 27-31 October, Gaza was pounded with artillery and ordinance from battleships and planes. Beersheba fell on 1 November and a week later the British army forced its way into Gaza.

The city was devastated by British bombing, but also by the Ottoman practice of destroying local buildings in order to fortify their defences, and for many years after Gaza remained a depressing and ruined ghost city. Allenby entered Gaza on 9 November, the same day the British Foreign Office announced the ‘Balfour Declaration’ endorsed a week earlier: ‘His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people’. One battle for Palestine was over in Gaza, another was about to begin.

Gaza in ruins after the Third Battle, 1917. (Library of Congress)

Jean-Pierre Filiu is Professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po in Paris and the author of Gaza: A History.

STORMBRINGER SENDS

0 comments:

Post a Comment

 
back-copies.eu.org backhaus-schroeer.eu.org bainbridgestrategy.eu.org barbarabutterfield.eu.org barefoot-resort.eu.org basketsbycestcheese.eu.org battle-armor-he-man.eu.org battle-armor-skeletor.eu.org battle-bones.eu.org battle-ram.eu.org battlearmorheman.eu.org battlearmorskeletor.eu.org bayheadboxers.eu.org beeline-intl.eu.org beeline-uk.eu.org beelineuk.eu.org bellsonyourtoes.eu.org benchmarkhomessa.eu.org benedictdesigns.eu.org bernardginhoux.eu.org wood flooring ideas the networks board game Adult Learning Theories sexy lingerie tattoo designs wallpaper artist health category insurance financial category Category Online Money Category Home Improvement online business category Category software games and android category marketing advertising category marketing advertising Criminal Justice Planning Agency Lawyers Association The Best of Insurance http://celebritytidings.eu.org http://livingandfashion.eu.org Academic Advising Audio logo Stock Audio auto repair advice guide Healthy Women Medical Centre busy with business Car Finance Tools Debt Settlement Lawyer crafty stash corner cuentas and colors Cheap Wedding Dresses drug abuse statistics Lifestyle Home Solutions education essay titles finance insurance premium Lawyer and Legal Information guide healthy recipes health problems of children health topics kids home decorating service home improvement project home improvement project management home improvement project planning home insurance morgages house insurance plan house insurance progressive The Savings Bank insurance agency business loans insurance business loans insurance premium loan legacy landscape blocks legacy landscape contractors legacy landscape materials personal insurance loan real estate for commercial Bedroom Furniture Lawyer Requirements Concept Design teach about alcohol abuse technology support autocar the family deal tile flooring ideas tips lifetime fitness tips reduce car insurance quotes Online Jewelry Stores traveller hotel Insurance and Finance Auto and Parts Mortgage and Finance Drug Abuse Online Lottery Games Drug Abuse Health and Fitness Health and Fitness free music downloads Law Reports Wallpapers Artist online shop originals Product Auto Parts Web Developer online shop originals Product Insurance Company Health Life Technology System Home Security Beauty Cosmetic Online Travel Agency Linux Tips Guide Shooting Simulator Gadgets Technology Project Build Houses Payday Loans Health News Information Animals Shop Travel Agency North Owl Network Dentist Healthy Aging asian pretty The Tool Hospital Barbecook Best way to make Money with Forex Trading Green Home Design Online Lottery Party Clothing lawyer salary information auto car loans and insurance European Education Technology Terms The shirts and Jackets Design Capital One Credit Cards Commercial Real Estate Business Plan Competition travel channel and rental cars Pharmacy and drugs