After an unexpected absence I’ll try closing the week with something interesting: this is mail from the last transport of mail out of besieged Jerusalem in 1948, 27 April.


What is it: a 24 April 1948 postmarked business-card sized cover, deposited at the Jerusalem head post office and charged the 10 mils letter rate.


By its small dimensions it actually qualifies for what the Mandate post termed “embarrassing postal packet” (in Hebrew, more accurately “troublesome mail” - doar mafriim)

, and could have been refused service. In any case it was accepted at the counter (note the double ring canceller of the public counter and not the single ring type of the sorting office, as if deposited in a pillar box).


It was sent by lawyer Johannes Merguerian to Magistrates Court judge Daoud Abu-Ghazaleh in JAFFO (famous family), and contains a message of condolence: “Dear Daoud Effendi, I recently heard of the painful news and heavy loss, and I offer my deepest condolences on the death of your late father, wishing mercy for him and long life for you!"


What we subsequently see is a smudged black Mandate Post “no service” instructional marking and an orange Israeli censor label, added later.



Thanks to Daryl Kibble’s research we know the smudged black IM is from the HAIFA head post office, in use until the end of April (and the clearer, smaller violet type is from the Tel Aviv HPO, in use until September); we also know the Jerusalem HPO did not have such an IM at this time. The censor label in indexed Tav 1011 - a TEL AVIV censor.


Historically we also know that on 25 April the Irgun/Etzel Jewish underground launched their offensive against the Arab Jaffa neighborhood of Manshiya; on the 26th the Jerusalem HPO stopped accepting mail, and on the 27th the Irgun stopped their offensive - but that night the Hagana pre-State Jewish army began theirs, on the villages surrounding Jaffa (culminating in Jaffa’s surrender on 13 May).


I am aware of 2 late April Jerusalem covers with 27 April Haifa arrival marks; one was an official OHMS cover posted on the 20th, and the other posted on the 26th. My evaluation is that at this time the Jerusalem HPO accumulated mail for Haifa and dispatched it on a single transport on the 27th - the last outbound mail from Mandatory Jerusalem. There exist other late April cover from Jerusalem- but these bear the Tel Aviv violet “no service” IM, suggesting that these were added after the covers were sent there on the June convoys, at the end of the siege.


What happened here is, on the 27th the British Mandate postal service felt there was a chance for this Jaffa-bound cover to be delivered - and sent it north. The Haifa HPO uniquely in Haifa remained under the Mandate postal administration until 9 May: the cover was received there, marked “no service” as a consequence of the ensuing Hagana offensive on Jaffa - and remained there until the interim or Israeli postal administration took over (the HPO was under interim administration only between 10-14 May).


Either way the cover was opened and sealed after Israel’s independence on 15 May, with an early type of the military censor seal: with Jaffa’s surrender on the 13th the town became a military zone with a military governsorship until July 1949. I’m aware of mail to Jaffa in summer 1948 being marked “no service” (rather than “addressee absent” - due to the flight of the Arab residents). Here this is what happened to this cover - more so as the courthouse became the Irgun’s command post in the city (and the addressee’s family is documented having fled in April).


A ground-breaking postal history item as one of only 2 known latest-dated postmarked pieces of mail to have left Jerusalem before the termination of the Mandate, during the siege. The Haifa routing here is unique, being mail between 2 besieged locales (one besieged by Arab forces and the other by Jewish forces).


The sender Merguerian was the appointed agent of the Order of the Sisters of Marie Reparatrice Church and Convent in Palestine/Israel. The addressee, Daoud Suleiman (1913-1972), was a member of the famous Abu-Ghazaleh family: born in Amman, he received his law degree in Britain in 1940; practiced law in Palestine from 1944-48, subsequently working as a deputy at the Appeals Court in Jordanian East Jerusalem from 1948-51 & member of the Jerusalem Appeals Court from 1951-52; served as deputy of the High Court in Khartoum, Sudan, from 1956-59; Governor of [East] Jerusalem in 1961 & again from 1963-65 (receiving the Pope during his visit to the Holy Land); served as Jordan's ambassador to Spain & later (1967) to Iran; died in Jerusalem (Israel) 1972.


PARTING SHOT: the discovery revealed here receives extra confirmation from a segment of the message contained in this postcard, mailed on 10 May 1948 from Kibbutz GIVAT HAIM (near Hadera in north-central Israel) to besieged JERUSALEM: "Thank G-d may we live that our Jerusalem Post Office already produced for me a letter from you" - the reference must be to a letter predating the interim service in the city with its special local stamps, which in any case only began on the 9th (the day before this message), but received very recently, as such undoubtedly a reference to the latest known transport of mail out of besieged Jerusalem (to Haifa) on 27 April, an extraordinary documentation here.