Sacrifice and Valor of Haifa Martyrs Should not be Forgotten: Gen JFR Jacob
Homage to Indian Heroism in Israel
When army is made victim of party politics by making derogatory remarks or implicating through leaked documents, an unusual programme was held at Judah Hyam Synagogue, a Jewish place of worship in New Delhi. Indo-Israel Friendship Forum and Human Rights Defence India jointly organised a function to commemorate the Indian soldiers who fought in the World War I to save the city of Haifa. Bangladesh War Hero General J R F Jacob, who comes from a family of Baghdadi Jews, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and His Excellency Alon Ushpiz, Ambassador of Israel in India, who hails from Haifa, was Guest of honour.
After a Jewish prayer, General Jacob said that in the Palestine campaign, 15th Imperial service Cavalry Brigade, comprised of Mysor Lancers, Jodhpur Lancers and Hyderabad Lancers, made a supreme sacrifice. Their bravery and sacrifice should not be forgotten.
Ambassador Alon Ushpiz expressed that India and Israel share same values for thousands of years and Haifa is a landmark in this legacy. We should preserve and share this heritage. The expert on military history Squadron Leader Rana Tej Pratap Singh Chhina, Secretary, USI-CAFHR exemplified various events to explain the watershed events with a memoirs written by a soldier.
Shri Ravi Iyer of Indo-Israel Friendship Forum while stressing the need of India and Israel friendship reminded that India was the only land where Jews were not persecuted. That is why many Jews stills visit India even after migrating to Israel after its creation. He also congratulated Haifa Municipality and its Deputy Mayor, Hedva Almog, for adding the saga of sacrifice made by Indian soldiers in the school textbooks. It also called upon honoring Major Dalpat Singh Shekhawat, the Hero of Haifa, by realizing a stamp and naming a street each in a suitable prime location of Israel and India.
Shri Rajesh Gogna, Secretary General of HRDI introduced the event and the organisation. Mr Ezekiel Isaac Malekar of Judah Hyam Synagogue and priests representing Bahai and Buddhist religions offered the memorial prayer, while Shri Gauri Shankar Gupta proposed vote of thanks.
The history of modern state of Israel starts with the supreme sacrifice of 900 brave Indian soldiers who died while liberating the Palestinian port of Haifa from the Ottoman rule on 23 September 1918 during World War I.
A large number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in Israel during the liberation of port city of Haifa in 1918 and nearly 900 are cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel. Every year on September 23, the Indian Army commemorates “Haifa Day” on which two brave Indian cavalry regiments helped liberate the city in 1918 following dashing cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade. In the autumn of 1918, the Brigade swept northwards through Palestine in the last great cavalry campaign in world history. The Indian troops exhibited exemplary cavalry skills and bravery in a successful cavalry charge which finally culminated in the liberation of Haifa from 400 years of slavery under the Ottoman rule.
Their graves are looked after by the government of Israel till this day. Their names, bravery and sacrifice are included in history textbooks in Israel.