Immediately once the 1947-1949 began shots were fired from the area of the Palestinian village Al-Qastal. Many Israelis got injured or dead. After the colossal loss of the Hulda Convoy to Jerusalem, David Ben Gurion like the rest of the leadership of Jewish Yishuv decided to change strategy to a more offensive one. This offensive strategy was made possible due to the minimal amount of British soldiers that were still around in Palestine in March 1948. So this enabled the Haganah forces to seize control over important strategic outposts.
First, Al-Qastal was a key position on the Jaffa-Jerusalem road in the 1948 war. So the road was used by Arab forces to attack Jewish relief convoys. In order to prevent them from reaching the besieged Jewish parts of Jerusalem. For this purpose, it was occupied by the Army of the Holy War. Leading The forces was Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, the commander of the Jerusalem Hills sector.
As a result, the village was assaulted by the Palmach’s Harel Brigade and two squads of the Haganah during Operation Nachshon. After a previous minor clash had already caused most civilian inhabitants to flee. Finally, Palmach troops occupied the village on April 3, but its commander was refused permission to blow up the houses.
The Death Of A Palestinian War Hero in Al-Qastal
So forces under Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni attacked and besieged the Haganah-held village on 7 April 1948. During the following, foggy night Al-Husayni himself was killed by a Haganah sentinel in a bizarre incident. So on April 8th, armed Arabs from the entire area, motivated by the disappearance of their leader, attacked and recaptured Al-Qastal.
Al-Husayni’s death led to a loss of morale among his forces. As a result, most fighters left their positions to attend al-Husayni’s funeral on April 9th. So Palmach troops retook the almost fully deserted village on the night of April 8-9th. The Palmach blew up most of the houses and made the hill a command post, which they managed to hold on to.