It is located in what is now Israel’s narrow “waistline.” Losing Lydda would likely have cut the nascent country in two.
Alex Safian of CAMERA adds some more details:
Despite the surrender agreement, and the promise to turn over arms, the Israelis, now numbering only 500 men, had to once again take the town in another desperate battle.
Fighting house-to-house to root out snipers, and this time giving no quarter, within an hour much of the town was once again under control, and an estimated 200 Arabs were dead.
But the Dahmash Mosque, was still fighting, held by an estimated 70 fighters, and with an unknown number of others inside. Rather than launch a costly frontal assault, Lt. Col. Kelman decided to breach the mosque’s walls with an anti-tank weapon, known as a PIAT, and then have a platoon rush the building.
After the PIAT was fired, the men that stormed the building found that the defenders were dead, killed by the effects of the armor piercing projectile in the confined space of the mosque. (Kurzman, p. 515-516)
Dan Kurzman, I would add, was no “besotted” supporter of Israel. His Genesis, 1948, however is one of the classic accounts of Israel’s War of Independence. Is it possible that Shavit was unaware of this? Is it possible that “Middle East expert,” Thomas Friedman was unaware?
As is his wont, Friedman seized upon something that made his case – that Israel is largely at fault for the plight of the Palestinians and must do everything in its power to correct that – accuracy be damned.
It’s as if nothing’s happened in the past twenty years. It’s as if Israel hasn’t given the Palestinians legitimacy, money, territory and even arms in order to make peace and yet finds itself just as ostracized as it was twenty years ago.
Even though Friedman recites “For too long, the Arab world kept the Palestinians frozen in victimhood,” he doesn’t relate it to anything. Why haven’t Palestinians made an agreement with Israel? If they don’t want to be victims, let them agree to end the war even if it means taking less than 100% of what they say they’re entitled to. But with cheerleaders like Friedman insisting that the only way for Israel to make peace is to give the Palestinians everything they want, they have no reason to. But Friedman does more than simply insist that Israel give the Palestinians everything they want, without it Israel cannot “enjoy the support of the world,” as he paraphrases Shavit. To Friedman, it isn’t simply good sense for Israel to make peace, it is essential for its legitimacy.
Friedman cited a much discussed book (it was excerpted in the New Yorker) to prove that he was looking at Israel with “brutal honesty.” Unfortunately, in this case he left out an essential fact that undercut the honesty of his position.