The Last Days of “Free Galilee”: Memories of 1948

VOL. 33


No. 1
P. 55
The Last Days of “Free Galilee”: Memories of 1948

This personal account describes the unfolding of the 1948 war in the Galilee from the vantage point of a Nazareth physician. Covering the period from the months preceding the end of the Mandate in May to the eve of Israel's final military assault on Arab Galilee (Operation Hiram) in late October, the memoir focuses on the repercussions of the evolving situation for Nazareth and its hinterland, highlighting the prevailing mood, the haphazard military and civil defense preparations, and the relief efforts of the local population. Nazareth, an all-Arab town of some 15,000 inhabitants, over 60 percent of whom were Christian and the rest Muslim, was assigned to the Arab state under the UN Partition Plan. Though conquered by the new state of Israel in July 1948, Nazareth was spared the devastation visited upon the other Arab and mixed (Jewish and Arab) towns of Palestine because of its importance to world Christendom and the presence in the town of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and other international Christian institutions.

Elias Srouji,  a retired professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma, practiced medicine in Nazareth until 1967. This article is taken from his memoir, Cyclamens from Galilee (forthcoming).