Jerusalem was captured by the British 98 years ago

New photos from the Ottoman Archives depict transfer from Ottoman control to the British, one of many conquests of the Holy City.

Lenny Ben David ,

Ottoman Archives Logo
Ottoman Archives Logo

The beginning of the siege of Jerusalem on the Tenth of Tevet (this year, December 22, 2015) ended with the destruction of the first Holy Temple on the Ninth of Av, 586 B.C.E. (exact year is disputed) by the Babylonian army. This was the first of many conquests of the City of Peace which King David had made the capital of his realm and where his son Solomon built the first Temple.These photographs, posted on the Tenth of Tevet, show a more recent conquest:

The latest batch of photographs released this week by the Ottoman Imperial Archives includes several treasures showing historical sites and events in Palestine. The picture below shows two cavalrymen from the British forces hoisting a Turkish flag on their bayonets.

"The End of Ottoman Rule in Jerusalem, December 9, 1917." Two cavalrymen from the British forces hoisting a Turkish flag on their bayonets. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

The sergeants accepting the surrender of Jerusalem December 9, 1917 (Library of Congress)

In the past, we featured several pictures found in the Library of Congress (LOC) and Monash University (Australia) archives showing the surrender of Jerusalem to the British forces in December 1917.

The British forces stalled in their attempt to capture Palestine through Gaza. A daring attack across the desert to Be'er Sheva in October 1917 opened the path to Jerusalem.

The LOC picture of two British sergeants accepting the surrender flag from Jerusalem officials (not Turkish officers) is one of the most iconic photographs of World War I in Palestine. The picture was taken by a photographer from the American Colony Photo Department; the flag was a sheet taken from an American Colony bed.

The Monash archives provided a picture of Turkish soldiers hurrying into the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City on December 9, 1917, "driven from the outlying hills by our men," the caption reads. From the Old City they continued their retreat toward the Dead Sea.

But the photo was not very clear. The Ottoman Archives photo below is so clear that viewers can see the writing on the building on the left, "Bezalel" in Hebrew and English. The Bezalel pavilion was built outside of the Jaffa Gate in 1912 to sell souvenirs and crafts made at the Bezalel Academy of Arts. The structure was demolished in 1918 by the British.

Turkish retreat from the Jerusalem hillsides on December 9, 1917. The Bezalel Pavilion is on the left. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)

Photos from the Library of Congress and the Monarch Collection which also contain the iconic surrender photo and more:

Handwritten caption: "The Mayor of Jerusalem Hussein Effendi El Husseini meeting with Srgts Sedwick and Hurcomb..., London Regiment, under the White Flag of Surrender, December 9th at 8 a.m." (1917, Library of Congress)

Click here for more on the surrender of Jerusalem to two British army sergeants.

The Middle East fighting continued until October 1918, after major battles in Megiddo, Jericho and Damascus. Near Mount Scopus is the cemetery built for the 2500 British soldiers, including several Jews, who fell in the Holy Land in WWI.

Turkish troops arriving in Jerusalem from nearby positions, before fleeing the city (1917, stereograph photo, Monash University archives)

British General Edmund Allenby's arrival in Jerusalem via the Jaffa Gate after the city's surrender (1917, Library of Congress)

See the Israel's history in pictures site for more fascinating photography.