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Battle of Latrun


The Burma Road
Uri Avnery Social activist
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השיירה הזאת כבר הותקפה. לא הגיעה לירושלים. הכביש לירושלים נחסם סופית, ואז עשו את הדבר החכם שהיו צריכים לעשות מלכתחילה, אבל תמיד עושים את הדברים החכמים אחרי שכל שאר האפשרויות מוצו. במקום לסוע בדרך המלך, נסעו מסביב. פתחו את כביש בורמה והגיעו שיירות כמה שרצו בלי שום התקפות ובלי בטיח. אבל פסח 48' זו הייתה שיירה ראשונה. אני ביליתי בירושלים. שמחה גדולה מאוד. זה כמו שדה גול נכנס לפריז. שמחה עממית שאי-אפשר לתאר כשהם ראו אותנו עם כל האוכל הזה. אז התחילה שורה של קרבות. היה הקרב על לטרון, הקרב שלגמרי נשכח. כולם זוכרים את הקרב השני, שהוא היה קטסטרופה, אבל שלנו גם היה קטסטרופה אבל יותר קטנה. צריכים לזכור שעד מאי (1948) אנחנו הפסדנו כמעט את כל הקרבות. זה לגמרי נמחק מהזכרון הלאומי. היה נראה כאילו עשינו טיול, היה טיול שעשועים. אנחנו הפסדנו את כל הקרבות. לא היה לנו מספיק נשק, לא היו לנו מספיק אנשים. הערבים שלטו בכבישים. הכפרים שלהם היו לאורך הכבישים, והיו צריכים, אם רצינו בכלל לנוע בכבישים, היו צריכים להרחיק אותם, לא הייתה שום ברירה. והפסדנו. עוד פעם ועוד פעם. הקרב הגדול הראשון שהסתיים בתבוסה גמורה היה הקרב על לטרון, עוד לפני הקמת המדינה, בראשית מאי.

This convoy [came under] attack. It never reached Jerusalem. The road to Jerusalem was eventually blocked, then they did the smartest thing that they should have done to begin with, but 'the smartest thing is always done after all other options have been exhausted' said Abba Eban. Instead of travelling on the highway, we drove around. They opened the Burma Road and as many convoys as wanted to reached their destination with no attacks and no problems.

But Pesach '48, this was the first convoy. I spent it in Jerusalem. It was very joyous. It was like when de Gaulle entered Paris. National delight that cannot be described when they saw us with all this food. So began a series of battles. There was the battle for Latrun - a battle that was totally forgotten. Everyone remembers the second battle which was a catastrophe, but ours was also a catastrophe, only slightly less so.  We should recall that until May [1948], we lost almost all the battles. This was entirely erased from our collective memory. It seemed as if we had been on a trip, a pleasure trip. We lost all the battles. We did not have enough weapons, we did not have enough people. The Arabs controlled the roads. Their villages were situated alongside the roads, and, if we wanted to move along the roads at all, we would have had to remove them, there was no choice. And we lost. Again and again. The first big battle that ended in utter defeat was the battle for Latrun, even before the establishment of Israel, at the beginning of May.

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: Jerusalem, Paris, Burma Road, Abba Eban, Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle

Duration: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017