On the third day of his historic Israel visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Haifa Indian Cemetery and paid homage to the brave Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the liberation of Haifa in 1918. The Prime Minister was accompanied by his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. “Around 150 kilometres from here, there is a slice of history in the city of Haifa in Israel that is very dear to my country,” Modi said while in Jerusalem. “This is the final resting place for 44 of the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during World War I to liberate the city.” So, what is it that makes Battle of Haifa so important? Here’s all you need to know about the role of Indian soldiers in it:
1. Haifa, being a port city of Israel, was an important strategic supply base. In 1918, this city was attacked by the Ottoman army. In response, 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade was ordered to recapture Haifa.
#WATCH: PM Narendra Modi leaves for Haifa to pay homage to Indian soldiers #ModiInIsrael Watch Immersive LIVE: https://t.co/uloY2wHjxo pic.twitter.com/sE9Q8fEjpM
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2. It was joined in the operation by the 5th Cavalry Division which was formed with three brigades, two of them composed of one British yeomanry regiment, and two British Indian Army cavalry regiments; one of which was usually lancers.
3. On September 23, the 15th Cavalry Brigade which comprised of lancers from regiments of princely states of Jodhpur and Mysore inflicted heavy assault on positions held by Ottoman Turks in Haifa. The city was eventually recaptured from the Turkish-German forces.
4. To mark the contribution of Indian soldiers, The Teen Murti memorial was constructed in 1922. According to a report by The Indian Express, 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners were captured by the two Indian regiments.
5. Since then, Haifa Day is celebrated by the Indian Army every year to commemorate the war dead during the battle. The Haifa Indian Cemetery contains the graves of as many as 49 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War.