Modi, Israeli PM lay wreaths at Haifa Indian Cemetery

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Haifa, July 6: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday laid floral wreaths at the Haifa Indian Cemetery that contains the graves of 49 Commonwealth servicemen killed in World War I.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays a wreath at the Indian cemetery in Haifa, Israel on Thursday. Indian soldiers laid down their lives during the liberation of Haifa in 1918.

Haifa was captured by the Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers from Turkish and German forces on September 23, 1918.

In a highly sombre atmosphere, Modi and Netanyahu also jointly unveiled a plaque commemorating Major Dalpat Singh, who led the Jodhpur Lancers.

"Hailing the hero of Haifa. The leaders unveil plaque commemorating Major Dalpat Singh whose bravery in this battle is folklore," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted.

Blue Berets, as the UN peacekeeping forces are better known, from India were present on the occasion. The two leaders also wrote on the visitors' book at the cemetery.

On the third and last day of his visit to Israel, Modi, accompanied by Netanyahu, arrived here by helicopter.

Later, on their way to Tel Aviv, they will stop at a beach where Modi will be given a demonstration of a mobile water filtration plant.

What is Haifa battle?

Israeli port city of Haifa was a strategic supply base. On September 23, 1918, the 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade comprising lancers from the regiments of princely states- armed only with lances (a kind of spear) and swords- attacked positions held by Ottoman Turks in and around the city of Haifa.

Eventually, the Indian cavalry brigades fighting under the leadership of British General Edmund Allenby helped liberate Haifa. A total of 1,350 German and Ottoman prisoners were captured by the two Indian regiments, including the confinement of two German officers, 35 Ottoman officers, 17 artillery guns and 11 machine guns. About eight soldiers were dead and 34 wounded, while 60 horses were killed and another 83 injured.

Back home, every year on September 23, the Indian Army celebrates 'Haifa Day' to commemorate the Indian soldiers martyred during the Battle of Haifa, hailed as one of the bravely-contested battles of World War I, reports Indian Express.

Even, Delhi's Teen Murti memorial was constructed in 1922 in the memory of the Indian soldiers who served present day Gaza strip, Israel and Palestine during the World War I under British India Army.

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