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The battle of Ibdis


Battles of Negba
Uri Avnery Social activist
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So we practiced a little on the jeeps and then the truce ended in July '48 and the most difficult battles of the war began, the decisive battles of the war, in my opinion.

Today, they're known as the battles of Negba. The Egyptian army was an army. There is an argument between the soldiers of '48. Everyone thinks that his enemy was the strongest. The Arab Legion was small but powerful with British command. The Syrian army, very tough, was a great enemy. We in the south, we thought that the Egyptian army was the enemy. It was then the largest army and was also the best equipped, I think. And the battle started. The battles of Negba. The battles of Negba were a series of battles, night after night which lasted for 10 days. Ten days, when we were fighting all day, all night. Those of us in the jeeps were a kind of regimental reserve. You could easily send us anywhere. Usually they took us when they wanted to attack a village, the villages that were between the lines, between the Egyptians and us. We attacked them one after the other, every night. And they usually took us... such an attack would take place... it was usually carried out as follows: nakba [catastrophe] at night, always at night. First they sent us. We fired on the village from a distance as I said with eight guns blasting. Then we would stop and the infantry would try to occupy the village. Usually the villages were empty at this point.

When we talk about the nakba one needs to understand that if you are a farmer with a wife and five kids and the enemy is firing on your village, then the normal thing is that you take your family and flee to the next village. That was what happened at this stage of the war. Village by village, one after another.

אז התאמנו קצת על הג'יפים ואז ההפוגה נגמרה, יולי 48’. והתחילו הקרבות הקשים ביותר של המלחמה, קרבות ההכרעה של המלחמה, לדעתי. זה הקרבות שידועים היום בתור "הקרב על נגבה". הצבא המצרי היה צבא. יש ויכוח בין החיילים של 48’. כל אחד חושב שהאויב שלו היה הצבא הכי חזק. הלגיון הערבי קטן אבל חזק, עם פיקוד אנגלי. הצבא הסורי, קשוח מאוד, זה אויב נהדר. אנחנו בדרום חשבנו שהצבא המצרי הוא הצבא. הוא אז היה הצבא הגדול ביותר וגם המצויד הכי טוב, אני חושב. והתחיל קרב. הקרב על נגבה. הקרב על נגבה היה שרשרת של קרבות לילה-לילה. סך הכל זה נמשך עשרה ימים. עשרה ימים, שהיה קרב כל יום, כל לילה. ואנחנו בג'יפים היינו מין עתודה חטיבתית. אפשר היה לשלוח אותנו בקלות לכל מקום. בדרך כלל לקחו אותנו כשרצו לתקוף כפר, מהכפרים שהיו בין הקווים, בין המצרים ובינינו. תקפו אותם אחד אחרי השני כל לילה. ואותנו לקחו בדרך כלל, התקפה כזאת הייתה מתבצעת… זה ה"נכבה" למעשה. זה היה מתבצע כך: בלילה, תמיד בלילה, קודם כל שלחו אותנו. אנחנו נתנו אש ממרחק על הכפר. כאמור, כששמונה מקלעים יורים אש תופת. ואז היינו מפסיקים, ואז חיל רגלים היה מנסה לכבוש את הכפר. בדרך כלל הכפרים היו ריקים בשלב הזה. כשמדברים על ה"הנכבה" צריכים להבין שאם אתה כפרי, עם אשה וחמישה ילדים, ויורים אש תופת על הכפר שלך, אז הדבר הנורמלי הוא שאתה לוקח את המשפחה שלך ובורח לכפר הבא. זה מה שקרה. כפר אחרי כפר אחרי כפר. בשלב הזה של המלחמה.‏

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: jeeps, truce, Egyptian army, Negba, village, attack

Duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017