Friday, January 20, 2012

The Mandatory Period Train Tunnel


During the British Mandate in Palestine, with the onset of the Second World War, the need arose for a land continuum between the Middle East and Europe. The British, with the help of thousands of workers (Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans, alongside men of Eretz Israel) laid down the track for a rail line between Haifa, Beirut and Tripoli in Lebanon. Through a super-human effort of only one-year's work, the men bore the tunnels into the rock of Rosh Hanikra, suspended 15 bridges along the route of the railroad track and built supporting walls to fend off the sea waves. Two of the tunnels with a combined length of about 200 meters were quarried into the cliff of Rosh Hanikra and a bridge was suspended above the big grotto-opening between the two tunnels.
Between the years 1943 to 1948, the railroad tracks that passed through the tunnels served the British for their military requirements. In the summer of 1944, Jewish refugees from the concentration camps were brought to Israel by means of the train that passed through the Rosh Hanikra tunnels. They were exchanged for German citizens of Templar extraction who were living in Eretz Israel whose sons served in the Nazi army. To prevent the passage of Lebanese weapons and soldiers into the territory of the country slated to arise, fighters of the Carmeli division of the Haganah blew up the bridge suspended above the big grotto opening on a stormy night in March 1948. 


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