The First Casualty of 1947-1949 Palestine War

Nechama Hacohen

This post is about the first casualty of the 1947-1949 Palestine War, her name was Nechama Zoltowski Hacohen. When Nechama was in her early 20’s she decides to immigrate to Israel. Firstly, she was very active in the Haganah organization in Jerusalem. Actually, she was a very dedicated member. And as a result, she fulfilled each and every assignment given to her. Alongside she worked as a laboratory technician at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Nechama belonged to the Haganah medical service. After the UN Resolution to part Palestine,  a state of emergency was announced in Jerusalem. While she was on vacation visiting her husband she said: “I belong to the Haganah” in the Old City. So the day after the UN resolution she takes a bus to Jerusalem. Surprisingly, the bus was ambushed by an Arab gang. That is to say, she was the very first victim of the War. 

The Motives For The Attack

The motives for the attack are not entirely clear. According to the Shai Unit of the Haganah, the individual behind the attack was a man named Abu Kishak. So we know that this guy was responsible for many other attacks. And most of the Shai Unit involved in the case figure it was a retaliation attack for a Lehi operation that during that operation five men were killed.

Israel Palestine War
In This Photo: Arab Irregulars, Along With a Burnt Truck on the Way to Jerusalem

But another theory suggested that this attack was a robbery. And the idea was to rob the passengers. what happened is that a British police car was there and prevented them from pursuing their plan. The attack was presented in the Media in those days as a nationalistic attack, an Arab response to the UN resolution. But the commander of the Shai Unit, David Shaltiel, suggested classifying this act as criminal and not as nationalistic.

The First Casualty of 1947-1949 Palestine War: Where is Nechama Buried?

Lastly, her body was transported to Jerusalem. So she could be buried in the Mount of Olives Cemetery. Her name is engraved in a monument erected in the Military Cemetery in Mount Herzl in memory of the Victims of the Jewish Quarter and in memory of warriors who fell in the battle over Jerusalem and were buried at the Mount of Olives


Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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