On March 3, the French army reached the fortified hilltop city of Jaffa. The Ottoman fortress with its 1.3-meter thick walls constituted a formidable challenge.
French military buttons found in Jaffa from Napoleon conquest Moshe Hartal, Israel Antiquities Authority.
As the French and Turks struggled, the Turks collected the heads of fallen French infantry soldiers, and placed the severed heads on poles above the walls. On March 7, Bonaparte sent an officer bearing a flag of truce to negotiate Jaffa's surrender. The Turks opened the city gates and let the officer through. Minutes later his head was raised on a pole.
A Napoleon coin, minted in 1858, found in debris taken from Temple Mount, Jerusalem Olivier Fitoussi.
The furious Napoleon ordered a general assault. He remained outside the city, where he was told that 3,000 Ottoman soldiers were willing to surrender if their lives would be spared.
But further outraging the emperor, among the captives were soldiers who had been caught in Al Arish, Gaza and Ramla, and who had promised never to take up arms against the French again.
Again, the French were having difficulty provisioning their own troops, let alone prisoners of war. Also, Napoleon didn't want to stretch his already outnumbered soldiers by making them guard the captives. But he didn't want them rejoining the enemy ranks.
Years later, exiled on the island of Saint Helena, Napoleon wrote: "to have acted otherwise than as I did, would probably have caused the destruction of my whole army…I therefore… ordered that the prisoners taken at El Arish, who in defiance of their capitulation, had been found bearing arms against me, should be selected out and shot. The rest, amounting to a considerable number, were spared."
We do not know if Napoleon slaughtered all 3,000 Turkish prisoners at Jaffa or only men who resumed fighting him after their release, as he tells us. There is no archaeological evidence to support the mass slaughter described in the memoirs of Napoleon´s secretary, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, who never missed an opportunity to stain the Corsican's reputation.
The booty the French found in Jaffa included small vessels anchored in its harbor, and also cannons, that would shortly prove useful.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.790107