The Batei Mahse Company received the building license and built the first group
of flats, the likes of which had never before been seen in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In later years, other philanthropists built additional buildings in the Batei Mahse
neighborhood, among them the impressive Rothschild House. During the battles that
raged in the Quarter during the War of Independence, the apartments and cellars
of the buildings in the Batei Mahse neighborhood provided shelter for those civilians
still remaining in the besieged Quarter. After the surrender to the Arab Legion,
the defenders and civilians were gathered in Batei Mahse Square. The 30 defenders
still able to stand after 13 continuous days of fighting, together with 50 wounded
and 260 civilians, ranging in age from 13 to 78, were taken into captivity. 1300
residents of the Quarter – children, women and the elderly – were forced to leave
their homes, which were looted and then set ablaze. Some 1300 years after Arabs
allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem, after the end of the Byzantine era, the Jews
were once again expelled from the city inside the walls.