The First Lag ba-Omer in British-Ruled Jerusalem

The minor Jewish holiday of Lag ba-Omer, which begins this evening, is traditionally celebrated with picnics, outings, and, nowadays, barbecues. Lenny Ben-David examines a rare photograph, which he dates to April 30, 1918, of Jerusalem schoolchildren setting out on a Lag ba-Omer field trip:

The boys and girls [in the picture’s foreground] come from ultra-Orthodox schools, evidenced by the boys’ hats and frocks. The girls are wearing ultra-Orthodox fashion: shapeless, modest smocks. [To the photographer’s left is] a second batch of girls, behind a Star of David banner, wearing more stylish dresses and hats. . . .

Traditionally, on Lag ba-Omer Jews flock to the Galilee mountaintop of Meron and to the grave there of Simon bar Yoḥai, one of the most famous scholars in the Talmud, [who lived in the 2nd century CE]. But some 100 years ago, travel to Meron would have taken days. Instead, the children took a hike to [the outskirts of Jerusalem to visit] the grave of Simon the Righteous, [the high priest and Jewish leader of the 3rd or 4th century BCE], a common custom 100 years ago in Jerusalem.

The picture was taken just four months after the British forces captured the city of Jerusalem [from the Ottoman Turks]. The city’s Jewish residents received the soldiers as their saviors—saving them from severe hunger and deadly diseases. The children had much to celebrate. . . .

Today, Lag ba-Omer is a day when Jewish children still go out to parks and forests to celebrate. In Jerusalem, many traditional Jews still visit Simon’s grave.

Read more at Israel Daily Picture

More about: Israeli history, Jerusalem, Lag ba'Omer, Religion & Holidays, World War I

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas