vrijdag 25 mei 2012

Dagboek 1948: een staat wordt geboren 25 mei 1948

MAY 25th Visited the Armenian Patriarch. Explosions of previous night were shells falling on the Armenian Compound. Two struck the Cathedral, one demolished a small house, wounding the dozen occupants, bringing total
casualties to date to 130 including seven dead. Considerable damage has been caused by shells, which have driven the 3,000-4,000 people into
underground caves. The condition under which these people are living beggars description. Crowded into stuffy, airless, underground passages; filling the churches to overflowing, short of water, fearing epidemics, their future is black indeed unless a big change in the situation takes place, or unless at least 1,000 or more can be removed to some safer place to relieve the congestion. ‘Phoned Mr. Miller and asked him to contact
the Red Cross delegates to see if accommodation in the King David or elsewhere can be found.

One feature of the fighting, which is really a war of nerves, has
been the presence of one or more persons, who appear to be in several
places at once, who fire bullets with a particularly high-pitched and
penetrating sound, which is most difficult to locate. At one moment it
seems a few yards away and the next minute the echoes are heard away in
the distance. The bullets explode twice and scatter into small, jagged
pieces. The bullet is said to be of Russian make.

We are by no means “out of the woods” yet and unless some agreement
for a truce, at least in Jerusalem, is found, there may be weeks and
perhaps months of bitter fighting ahead. As, however, many will be
wanting to know what has been happening in Jerusalem during the past 12
days, and as a postal service between the Old City and the outside world
via Amman, Trans-Jordan, is about to be started, this seems an opportune
moment to dispatch this diary together with certain comments and
observations appended below.

 Of the many blessings which we can count during these memorable ten days so far, two especially should be mentioned. First, that although the Hostel telephone wires were cut by flying fragments in the early stages of the fighting, the office telephone has continued to function without a break, in spite of a shell bursting on the Parsonage roof close to the wires and several mortars exploding nearby. When so many, including St. George’s Cathedral and the Armenian Patriarchate next door to Christ church were without telephones, we can thank God that we were able to keep in touch with our staff in the Superintendent’s house, the British Embassy, through whom we were able to get messages to our Headquarters in London, and other friends in different parts of the town.

Secondly, we have been wonderfully preserved from danger and injury. If the Jews had managed to storm the Citadel and Jaffa Gate we would have been immediately involved in fierce house to house fighting. The moon, which was in the second quarter, was a serious handicap to the Jews who needed the cover of darkness if they were to have much chance of success in their night attacks.

Further, although about a dozen mortars burst on the premises, besides several shells and hand-grenades, no one received a scratch. As one of our number put it very aptly: “God’s protecting hands were over us, so that no one was in the vicinity when shells burst, and on the occasion when two people were in the Compound when a mortar landed at their feet, it didn’t explode.” The only damage we have suffered so far was a number of broken windows, two cars superficially damaged by mortars and two water tanks perforated by shell fragments on the Parsonage roof. When we compare our immunity from injury with the casualties suffered, for instance, in the Armenian Patriarchate adjoining us, where scores have been injured, a number fatally, or in the Citadel opposite us, or in the streets outside where many were killed and wounded, we can say truly that God has answered in a wonderful way the many prayers that have gone up on our behalf and on behalf of our three fellow-workers in the Superintendent’s house in the Hospital Compound, where again no one has so far been injured.

Besides being subject to physical danger, we have been the object of malicious tales spread by an “ill-wisher” for reasons best known to himself. Whether because some months back we had given shelter to a Hebrew Christian who fled wounded into the Compound from an Arab mob, or whether because we are a mission to Jews, and have in the past had many Hebrew Christians living in the Compound, or for some other reason, this fellow has spread tales around that we were harbouring a number of armed Haganah men. This accounted for the number of visits we received from various suspicious armed Arabs who came into the Compound from time to time and wanted to search the premises. Eventually this aforesaid “illwisher” met in the Old City an Arab Christian who had taken refuge with us and started to repeat his accusations to him. The Arab said to angrily, “Do you realize that in accusing Christ Church you are accusing us who are living on the premises, as we would undoubtedly know if armed Haganah men were in hiding there?” The man began to bluster and make excuses as a crowd began to gather. He was warned that if he were caught again spreading such false rumours it would go ill with him.

Finally, I think that it is true to say that there is not one person in Christ Church who has been through these testing times, but who would not affirm that he or she has been brought nearer to God and received a proof of His Love and Goodness and protection which a life time will not obliterate.