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The Ashkenazi commandos


The first ceasefire
Uri Avnery Social activist
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באה הפסקת האש הראשונה, "ההפוגה הראשונה" זה נקרא. לחודש. האו"ם קבע הפסקה לחודש. זה היה מאוד טוב בשבילנו, מפני שהיינו במצב מאוד-מאוד לא טוב. העליונות בנשק בצבא המצרי, שבניגוד לכל הדיבורים, הוא היה צבא טוב. די שמחנו. שמחנו אפילו מאוד, שבאה הפסקת האש. בהפסקת האש קרה דבר חשוב בשבילנו: לקחו את הפלוגה שלנו, פלוגה בי״ת גדוד 54, והפכו אותה לפלוגת קומנדו ממונעת על ג'יפים ושריונים. למה את הפלוגה שלנו? לפני הכל, כשעוד היינו מחנה יונה, בהתחלת המלחמה, הגדוד השכן שלנו, 53, סבל אבידות קשות. והוא היה כבר בחזית, כשאנחנו היינו עוד באימונים. והפלוגה שלנו קיבלה פקודה את חצי האנשים שלה להוציא מהפלוגה ולהעביר לשם. שישו ושמחו. המפקדים רקדו מרוב שמחה, מפני שזו הייתה הזדמנות נדירה מאוד להיפטר מכל האנשים שלא מצאו חן בעיניהם. עכשיו, הפלוגה שלי, פלוגה בי״ת, שבאה מחי"ש תל-אביב, חיל השדה של תל-אביב - חיל השדה זה היה הכוח של ה”הגנה", שלא היה מגוייס ממש כמו הפלמ”ח, אבל ניתן היה לגייס אותו לאותן המשימות. והפלוגה שלי כללה הרבה מאוד חבר׳ה מהשכונות: שכונת התקווה, שכונת שפירא וכוליי. טיפוסים שבחיים שלי לא פגשנו. אני גדלתי בעוני, אבל בצפון תל אביב.

The first ceasefire came, the first break it was called, and lasted a month. The UN determined the ceasefire would last for a month. It was very good for us, because we were really not in a good situation. The Egyptian army possessed superior weapons – and contrary to everything that was said, it was a good army. We were quite pleased, we were even very pleased that there was a ceasefire. Something important happened to us during the ceasefire: they took our company, company B of Battalion 54, and turned the same company into a commando squadron with Jeeps and armoured vehicles. Why our company? First of all, while we were still in Camp Yona at the beginning of the war, our neighbouring regiment, 53, suffered heavy losses. They were already at the front while we were still undergoing training, and our company was ordered to take half of its people out of the squad and move there. Such rejoicing. The commanders danced for joy because it was a very rare opportunity to get rid of all the people they did not like. Now, my company, B company, which came from the field force of Tel Aviv – this field force was the strength of the Haganah, which was not really recruited like the Palmach, but it was possible to recruit it for the same missions. And my company included a lot of guys from the same neighborhoods: Hatikva, Shapira and so forth. The kind of people that I had never met. I grew up in poverty but in north Tel Aviv.

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: United Nations

Duration: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017