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|Siege of Jaffa|
|Part of Egypt-Syria Campaign|
The painting Napoleon visiting the plague victims of Jaffa, by Antoine-Jean Gros depicts the aftermath of this battle.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Napoleon Bonaparte||Ahmed al-Jazzar|
|Casualties and losses|
| 60 killed|
|2,440–4,100 up to 7000 prisoners, mostly Ottoman-Albanian soldiers executed|
The Siege of Jaffa was fought from 3 to 7 March 1799 between France and the Ottoman Empire. The French were led by Napoleon Bonaparte, and they captured the city.
A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from Latin: sedere, lit. 'to sit'. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static, defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. The art of conducting and resisting sieges is called siege warfare, siegecraft, or poliorcetics.
Jaffa, in Hebrew Yafo, or in Arabic Yaffa, the southern and oldest part of Tel Aviv-Yafo, is an ancient port city in Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter as well as the mythological story of Andromeda and Perseus, and later for its oranges.
The Ottoman Empire, also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Jaffa was surrounded by high walls, flanked by towers. Ahmed al-Jazzar entrusted its defence to his elite troops, including 1,200 artillerymen. Napoleon had to win Jaffa before he could advance any further, and the whole expedition's success depended on its capture—the town was one of Syria's main mercantile centres, and had a harbour which would provide vital shelter for his fleet.
All the exterior works could be besieged and a breach was feasible; when Bonaparte sent an officer and the trumpeter to the city's commander to order its surrender, the commander decapitated the messengersand ordered a sortie. He was pushed back and as early as the evening of the same day; the weight of the besiegers caused one of the towers to collapse and so, despite resistance by its defenders, Jaffa was taken.
According to some sources, the French messengers who brusquely told the city of Napoleon's ultimatum had been arrested, tortured, castrated and decapitated, and their heads impaled on the city walls. This harsh treatment led Napoleon, when the city fell, to allow his soldiers two days and nights of slaughter and rape.[ citation needed ] He also executed the Turkish governor Abdallah Bey. Bonaparte no longer wished to honour the promises of his step son Eugène de Beauharnais that prisoners' lives would be spared and ordered that a large part of the Ottoman prisoners (according to some sources around 2,440, according to others 4,100 up to 7,000), most of them Albanians, be executed by being shot or stabbed to death with bayonets. Napoleon's eulogists later wrote of this decision: "For, to keep in submission so considerable a number of prisoners, it would have been necessary to detach guards for them, which would have severely diminished his army's numbers; and if he had allowed them to leave free men, it was reasonable to fear that they might swell the ranks of Ahmed al-Jazzar's troops."
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Napoleon also allowed hundreds of Egyptians to leave, hoping that the news they would carry of Jaffa's fall would intimidate the defenders of the other cities in Syria. This backfired, since their news instead made these defenders fight all the more fiercely. Meanwhile, a plague epidemic caused by poor hygiene in the French headquarters in Ramla decimated the local population and the French army alike.As he had also suggested during the siege of Acre, on the eve of the retreat from Syria-Palestine Napoleon suggested to his army doctors (led by Desgenettes), that the seriously ill troops who could not be evacuated should be given a fatal dose of laudanum, but they forced him to give up the idea. Overcome in the north of the country by the Turks, Napoleon abandoned Palestine. After his departure the British, allied to the Turks and commanded by William Sidney Smith, rebuilt Jaffa's city walls.
Ramla is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 CE by the Umayyad governor and future caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik. Ramla lies along the route of the Via Maris, connecting old Cairo (Fustat) with Damascus, at its intersection with the road connecting the port of Jaffa with Jerusalem.
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