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No one dreamed of a war


Removing UN forces from Sinai
Uri Avnery Social activist
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במהלך 1967 אני הוזמנתי להרצות באחד הקיבוצים בצפון. כמו שמקובל, אחרי ההרצאה והשאלות, הזמינו אותי לחדר של אחד החברים בשביל פגישה בחוג מצומצם. וכשדיברנו סיפר לי אחד החברים ששבוע לפני כן הרצה שמה אלוף פיקוד הצפון, דדו, דוד אלעזר, ובין השאר אמר שכל יום לפני שהוא הולך לישון הוא מתפלל לאלוהים שגמאל עבד אל נאסר יכניס את צבאו לחצי האי סיני וששם נשמיד אותו. אחרי 15 במאי נפוצה הידיעה שנאסר הכניס את צבאו לחצי האי סיני, שזו הייתה הפתעה גדולה, מפני שבאותה עת הייתה מלחמת האזרחים בתימן וחשבו שכל הצבא המצרי מרותק שם. פרצה בהלה גדולה בארץ. אמנם בסיני היה כוח של האו"ם מאז מלחמת קדש, אבל המזכ"ל של האו”ם או-ת׳אנט מבורמה התנהג בטיפשות בלתי רגילה: נאסר ביקש להוציא את הכוח של האו"ם מאזור מסוים ואו-ת'אנט, במקום להבין שזה בסך הכל תעלול תעמולה של נאסר, הוא אמר: "לא, אם אנחנו נסיג את כוחותינו אז מכל סיני”. זה לא השאיר לנאסר שום ‏‏ברירה, אלא לדרוש את הסרת כוח האו"ם מכל סיני.‏

During 1967 I was invited to speak in one of the kibbutzim in the north. As is customary, after the lecture and questions I was invited to the room of one of the members for a meeting with a small group. And while we were speaking one of the members told me that the previous week the General of the Northern Command, David 'Dado' Elazar, had spoken there and among other things he said that every day before going to bed he prays to God that Gamal Abdel Nasser will bring his army into the Sinai Peninsula and there we would be able to destroy it. After May 15, it became common knowledge that Nasser had brought his army into the Sinai Peninsula, which was a great surprise, because at that time there was civil war in Yemen and we thought that the entire Egyptian army was confined there. There was panic in Israel. Although there had been a UN force in Sinai ever since the Sinai Campaign, UN Secretary-General U Thant of Burma behaved with unusual stupidity: Nasser asked to remove the UN Force from a particular area and U Thant, instead of understanding that this was a propaganda stunt by Nasser, said, 'No, if we are withdrawing our forces then it is from the whole of Sinai'. This left Nasser no choice but to demand the removal of the UN forces from the whole of Sinai.

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Sinai Peninsula, United Nations, 1967, David Elazar, Gamal Abdel Nasser, U Thant

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017