JEDDAH: Saud bin Badi Al-Ramali, a 90-year-old veteran of the Saudi Armed Forces has recounted his participation in the 1948 war in Palestine and still remembers many stories from the war.
Al-Ramali, who lives in Jubah, 103 km to the northwest of Hail, was among 1,200 Saudi soldiers who participated in the war in the ranks of the Arab League at that time, according to the online new source, Alarabiya.net.
Recounting some of the stories from that time, he said that all Saudis across the Kingdom were very disturbed by the news about how the Jews were treating the Arabs in Palestine, so he left his town when he was only 20 years of age and marched to the north and crossed the borders where he acquired permission to join the Saudi troops on the battlefield.
"I stayed for two years in Palestine, moving from one location to another with the group fighting battles with the enemy in Jenin, Koun and Rafah. They were strong fighters, and many women even used to fight on the battlefield," he remembered.
He recounted events on one night in particular when he was with his friend, Ganem Al-Fairouz, on the front line and they were digging a trench where they hid as bombs rained all around. "I saw this horrible dream one night and I begged him to dig two trenches — one for each of us — so we would not both be killed in the same trench. In the evening the Israeli planes returned and there were Iraqi troops lying in our previous trench. One of the soldiers shot at the plane causing the enemy to know where the soldier was. The Israelis bombed the position intensively killing 400 Iraqi soldiers, but my friend and I survived the bombing".
He said he knew many Saudi soldiers who died during Palestine war from Hail and from other parts of Saudi Arabia. When the war ended in 1949 and the truce was signed, military vehicles carried them both back to Taif.
"In Taif, we were welcomed by Crown Prince Saud. He walked among the ranks of the soldiers who fought in Palestine and saluted each one of them. He granted each soldier a reward of 200 Arab riyals and six pounds of gold. This amount was supposed to have been 12 pounds but because of the war and the economic situation at that time, we each received only six.
"We stayed in Taif and performed Haj and Prince Saud told us that whoever wanted to join the army was welcome to stay, and that those who wanted to instead go join their families were free to go home. Some of us stayed and others left. For me personally, I chose to go home at that time with a fortune of more than 200 Arab riyals and got married," he said.