Saturday, July 28, 2007

Italians bomb the Holy Land

"A month after Italy entered the war, Haifa was bombed, with the aim of putting the refineries and port out of action. Dozens of people were killed in the raid and many others were injured. Strict blackout was imposed on all towns and settlements, and civil defense measures were adopted against the air raids.
These measures proved useless, however, when Tel Aviv was bombed in full daylight. I was playing with friends near home when we suddenly heard loud explosions. Before we could grasp what was happening, the Italian planes were on their way back to base. The entire bombardment had lasted only a few seconds, catching us unaware and leaving us no time to get to the shelter in the center of the neighborhood. From conversations around us, we understood that many people had been injured. I immediately ran home to report that I was safe and then went to see what had happened. The Nordiya quarter (where the Dizengoff Center now stands) had been heavily hit; the huts were in ruins, and among the debris lay the dead and injured. Here and there a fire had broken out. Damaged cars and wagons blocked the road itself. In the middle of the road lay a dead horse, hit while still harnessed to a wagon. I gazed at the horror around me. Of what strategic importance could this residential area have been?
A mass funeral was held for the 107 men and women who had died in the bombardment. The funeral procession left from the Balfour school and I still recall the coffins lying in rows on the trucks en route to the Nahlat Yitzhak cemetery. The lesson learned from this terrible raid was that our early-warning systems had to be improved to enable us to take shelter in good time. However, many Tel Avivians decided on a different solution and left the city for a safer place. Among them were my parents who, after much family consultation, decided to move to Ramat Gan, a quiet suburb of Tel Aviv, which was of no interest to enemy aircraft. My father bought a medium-sized plot of land on Salameh Street (now Ben-Gurion Street), between Ramat Gan and Ramat-Yitzhak, and reverted for a brief period to his previous occupation of building contractor. He built a small four-roomed house with a large cellar, which would serve as a shelter if necessary."

( by Yehuda Lapidot)

No comments:

Post a Comment