This grave was where the 48 fallen, both civilians and soldiers, were buried from 1947 to 1948 and remained for almost 20 years.
After Israel declared it’s independence it was attacked on all sides by it’s Arab neighbors leading to the longest and bloodiest war of the state of Israel.
For a year and a half the Old City was tightly sieged by Jordan, preventing the entry of food, medicine, ammunition, and more.
The Jewish Quarter was mostly civilians, still, they were attacked by both the Jordanian army and Arab gangs/guerrilla fighters from the Muslim Quarter.
Colonel Abdullah el Tell, local commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion, described the destruction of the Jewish Quarter in his memoirs:
“… The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion…. I knew that the Jewish Quarter was densely populated with Jews who caused their fighters a good deal of interference and difficulty…. I embarked, therefore, on the shelling of the Quarter with mortars, creating harassment and destruction….
“Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become their graveyard. Death and destruction reigned over it…. As the dawn of Friday, May 28, 1948, was about to break, the Jewish Quarter emerged convulsed in a black cloud – a cloud of death and agony.”
He also said that “the systematic demolition inflicted merciless terror in the hearts of the Jews, killing both fighters and civilians.”
As the death toll rose, another problem began to weigh heavily on the Jewish quarter…
According to Jewish law, that the dead should not be buried within the city limits, especially in the holy city of Jerusalem.
However, there was no possibility of removing the fallen from the basement of Misgav Ladakh Hospital in the in the sieged city to cemeteries outside the city limits.
Permission was granted by rabbi of the Western Wall at the time for temporary burial in the Quarter.
A small courtyard near the Quarter’s headquarters was chosen and a few volunteers from the neighborhood dug a hole.
The burial was very hasty due to the danger posed of being exposed to enemy fire.
Most of the victims were buried without names to assist in future identification.
One of the most famous fallen buried in the area would later be recognized as the youngest fallen IDF soldier, the 10 year old child Nissim Gini.
The Jordanians refused all attempts by the Israeli government to transfer their dead for burial on the Mount of Olives.
Only after the six day war, when Jerusalem was liberated, the tomb was revealed and in a state / military ceremony they were the 48 fallen finally brought to rest.
Today the Gal-Ed Memorial remains as a reminder and place to pay respect to the fallen.
Near by is the Jewish Quarter Defender’s Memorial which pays respect to all 69 Jews who were killed – almost half of which were civilians.
In addition to the 48 buried in the mass grave, another 13 buried were buried elsewhere, and 8 whose burial place is unknown.