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A test of courage


The battle of Ibdis
Uri Avnery Social activist
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לא היו לנו כמעט אבידות, ואז אמרו: "יאללה, נגבה בסכנה, נגבה יכולה ליפול, צריכים להציל את נגבה”. אז כל הג'יפים שלנו עלו לנגבה דרך השדות. התיידדנו עם אנשי נגבה, שהיו אנשים נהדרים, אזרחים שנשארו בכפר. אני חושב שאת הנשים והילדים שלחו עוד מקודם. והיו קרבות קשים מאוד. ליד נגבה היה מקום שנקרא עיבדיס, כפר ערבי נטוש בשם עיבדיס, שהוא היה הנקודה החלשה של החזית והוא היה תחת אש מאוד כבדה. הייתה צפויה התקפה מצרית והיו צריכים להביא לשם תחמושת, מלאי תחמושת, אז שלחו אותנו, אני חושב שני ג’יפים. ואנחנו דרך השדות עלינו לכפר הזה. זה היה על גבעה כזאת. כשהגענו לשם, זה כפר שהחבר׳ה שלנו הספיקו להתחפר והיו חפירות טובות, אבל הם היו כמעט ריקות, מכיוון שכולם או נהרגו או נפצעו. אז אנחנו החנינו את הג'יפים במדרון האחורי והבאנו את התחמושת לחפירות, לשוחות. ונשארנו בשוחות, אל״ף, מפני שהאש הייתה כבדה מדי ובי״ת, אמרו לנו: "תישארו, אין שם אנשים יותר.” ואז ראיתי את המחזה הזה איך המצרים מתכוננים לתקוף את העמדות שלנו. זה מחזה היה כמו בקולנוע. מרחוק ראינו שורה ארוכה של חיילי רגלים מסתדרים בשורה לתקוף אותנו. עוד ירינו, עוד היו לנו המקלעים וירינו. והם התקדמו באומץ לב רב, עד איזה מאה מטר ואז הם נעצרו, לא יכלו יותר. וזה חזר על עצמו כמה פעמים. את המאה מטר האחרונים הם לא היו מסוגלים לעשות ועיבדיס לא נפלה. באמצע אנחנו בכל זאת חזרנו לנגבה בשביל להוציא את הפצועים. הוצאנו פצועים, הבאנו תחמושת.

We had almost no losses, and then they said, 'Come on, Negba is at risk, Negba might fall, we need to save Negba'. So all our jeeps went up to Negba through the fields. We became friendly with the people of Negba who were really great, civilians who had remained in the village. I think that the women and children had been sent away earlier. And there were some very heavy battles. Near Negba was an abandoned Arab village named Ibdis which was the weakest point on the front and it was under very heavy fire. An Egyptian attack was expected and ammunition needed to be brought there, a supply of ammunition, so they sent us; I think two jeeps. We went up to this village through the fields. It was on a kind of a hill. When we reached this village, our guys had already had time to dig in and there were good trenches, but they were almost empty because everyone had either been killed or wounded. So we parked the jeeps on the back slopes and brought the ammunition to the trenches, to the pits. And we remained in the trenches firstly, because the gunfire was too heavy, and secondly, because they told us: 'Stay, there are no more people there'. Then I saw how the Egyptians were preparing to attack our positions. This was like a scene from the movies. From afar we saw a long row of infantry lining up to attack us. We were still firing, we still had machine guns and we were shooting. They advanced very courageously up to about 100 metres from us, and then they stopped; they could not come any closer. This was repeated several times. They were unable to advance the final 100 metres, and Ibdis didn't fall. In the middle of all this we still returned to Negba to evacuate the wounded. We got the wounded out of there, we brought ammunition.

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: Ibdis, Negba

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017