The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army (not the current one) was a volunteer army formed by the Arab League in December 1947 to militarily intervene and assist Palestinians in resisting the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and create two states – one Jewish and one Palestinian – following a recommendation from Britain.

The army consisted of eight brigades led by fighters from Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. Around 7,700 volunteers joined, including 2,500 from within Palestine and the rest from various Arab and Islamic countries. These volunteers received training at camps in Qatana, Syria, with Fawzi al-Qawuqji appointed as their leader.

The brigades of the Army of Rescue began arriving in Palestine in January 1948 and launched unsuccessful attacks on several Jewish settlements. Fawzi al-Qawuqji entered Palestine on March 7 of that year, assuming leadership in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

While initially able to manage some significant battles, the Army of Rescue lacked a general staff structure, suffered from a shortage of officers, poor weaponry, insufficient soldiers, and inadequate military training. In the first two weeks of 1948, they attacked the Mishmar HaEmek settlement but were repelled by Jewish Haganah forces. Additionally, on May 9 and 10, the Army of Rescue lost the city of Safed to the Palmach unit affiliated with Haganah.

Despite facing significant losses, the soldiers of the Army of Rescue were acknowledged as fierce fighters, noted in the history of Haganah. Haganah leaders acknowledged that the Arab Liberation Army managed to repel an attack by one of its units targeting the villages of Al-Kafr and Husha on April 14 and forced them to retreat.

Fawzi al-Qawuqji withdrew from Palestine on July 25, 1948, after his army faced several defeats, unable to prevent the fall of Tiberias, Haifa, Acre, and Jaffa into Jewish hands.

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