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The Burma Road


Conquering the first Arab village
Uri Avnery Social activist
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The next convoy was in early May. No - in the middle there was a small battle, my first battle. We conquered an Arab village where Kibbutz Nachshon is today, it was called Dir Mukhsin, opposite Latrun. And that was, in fact, our baptism by fire, the first time we were shot at. But it was not a disaster. We had an easy battle. These poor Arabs, what could they do? There were only three or four or five guns in this village. I actually felt quite sorry for them, even then. We conquered the village when it was empty, of course. They had fled. That was, by the way, what happened all during the war. People do not realize it. The Arabs had never fled the country. The Arabs, when they were being shot at in one village, fled to the next village. It did not occur to them to leave the country. They just fled from one village to a second to a third. Until, eventually, there was suddenly a border between them and their home. This was how the refugee problem was created, at least during the first half. That's it. So we took this village. It was a tremendous experience. The first time we were fired at. A huge experience. I was quite scared. And something fairly good happened to me. I really was scared when they fired at us. Then, that same day, the fear seemed to fall away permanently. I was never afraid again. All of the dozens of times, fifty or something, that we clashed with the enemy after that, including some big battles, the fear had left me. So we reached Dir Mukhsin. We conquered Dir Mukhsin. Then they sent us at Passover, sent us again to Jerusalem to bring a huge convoy.


השיירה הבאה הייתה בראשית מאי. לא. באמצע היה גם קרב קטן. הקרב הראשון שלי. כבשנו כפר ערבי במקום שהיום נמצא קיבוץ נחשון, זה נקרא דיר מוחסין, מול לטרון. וזו למעשה הייתה טבילת האש, פעם ראשונה שירו עלינו. אבל לא קרה שום אסון. היה לנו קרב קל. הערבים המסכנים האלה, מה הם יכלו לעשות? היו רק שלושה-ארבעה-חמישה רובים בכפר כזה. די ריחמתי עליהם גם אז. כבשנו את הכפר כשהוא כבר היה ריק כמובן. הם ברחו. וכך אגב קרה בכל המלחמה. אנשים לא מבינים את זה. הערבים אף פעם לא ברחו. הערבים, כשירו עליהם בכפר אחד, ברחו לכפר הבא. לא עלה על דעתם לעזוב את הארץ. הם פשוט ברחו מכפר אחד לשני לשלישי. עד שבסוף פתאום נוצר גבול בינם לבין הבית שלהם. כך נוצרה בעיית הפליטים, לפחות בחצי הראשון. זהו. אז כבשנו את הכפר הזה. הייתה חווייה גדולה מאוד. פעם ראשונה ירו עלינו. חווייה גדולה. די פחדתי. וקרה לי דבר די טוב. אני באמת פחדתי כשירו עלינו. ואז, באותו יום הפחד נשר ממני לצמיתות. אני אף פעם יותר לא פחדתי. כל העשרות, חמישים או משהו התקלויות עם האויב מאז, כולל כמה קרבות גדולים, הפחד הזה עזב אותי. אז הגענו לדיר מוחסיין. כבשנו את דיר מוחסיין. אחר-כך שלחו אותנו בפסח. שלחו אותנו עוד פעם לירושלים להביא שיירה ענקית.‏‏

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: Kibbutz Nachshon, Dir Mukhsin, Latrun

Duration: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017