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The Fallujah pocket


Samson's Foxes
Uri Avnery Social activist
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My squadron was camped at that time in a grove near an Arab village called Sawafir, which later became Sapir, and I think that today there is a college there named Sapir. In the morning we went back there to sleep. The Egyptians came, discovered the camp, a small camp, and they started bombing us. We hid in the trenches, but then moved away. It was also rather close. And then one day, all within a period of 10 days, we learned that a terrible catastrophe had occurred: the Egyptians had closed the road to Negba, they had attacked Negba and cut off the only route into Negba. Such a narrow road, and they had dug trenches and positioned themselves there. Their commander was called Gamal Abdel Nasser as we later learned. We had to break through this encirclement. Then they sent us out at night on the road. Jeeps. The entire squadron, four jeeps, six jeeps, something like that, to get the Egyptians along the road. We advanced, we progressed, we got very close. We fired. They fired. We fired. Someone in our squadron was killed, I think. We retreated and it turned out that the Egyptians remained. So my regiment commander, Chera, who later became Chief of Staff Zvi Zur, got onto the first jeep and said: 'Come on, we're going back'. It was unpleasant because they were waiting for us.

But this time we really went straight to the Egyptian position, just passed over the trenches. Then a story went around, which was probably true, I'm not sure, that we ran them over, physically, in the trenches, and they ran away and the road was opened. This was the action that resulted in my squadron receiving the title Samson's Foxes. Abba Kovner, who was the cultural officer of the brigade and was very imaginative, gave us a kind of mark of recognition for the squadron – Samson's Foxes.

הפלוגה שלי שכנה בימים האלה בחורשה ליד כפר ערבי שנקרא סואפיר, שהפך ל'ספיר', ואני חושב שהיום יש שמה מכללה על שם ספיר. בבוקר חזרנו לשם לישון. באו המצרים, גילו את המחנה, מחנה קטן, והתחילו להפציץ אותנו. התחבאנו בשוחות, אבל עברנו למקום אחר. זה גם כן היה די קרוב. ואז יום אחד, הכל בתוך עשרה ימים, יום אחד מקבלים ידיעה: 'קרה אסון נוראי . המצרים ניתקו את הדרך לנגבה, התקיפו את נגבה וניתקו את הדרך היחידה לנגבה'. כביש צר כזה, וחפרו לעצמם שוחות והתמקמו שם. המפקד שלהם היה אחד גמאל עבד אל נאסר, כפי שהתברר לנו יותר מאוחר. זהו. מוכרחים לפרוץ את הכיתור הזה. ואז שלחו אותנו ככה בלילה על הכביש. ג’יפים. כל הפלוגה, ארבעה ג'יפים, שישה ג'יפים, משהו כזה, לעלות על המצרים לאורך הדרך. התקדמנו, התקדמנו, התקרבנו מאוד. ירינו. הם ירו. אנחנו ירינו. נהרג אחד, אני חושב, אצלנו. וחזרנו והסתבר שהמצרים נשארו. אז מפקד הגדוד שלי, צֶ'רה, אחר כך הפך לרמטכ"ל, צבי צור, עלה על הג'יפ הראשון ואמר: "יאללה, חוזרים.״ לא נעים מפני שחיכו לנו. אבל הפעם באמת עלינו ישר על העמדה המצרית, ממש עברנו על השוחות. ואז נוצר הסיפור, כנראה אמיתי, אני לא בטוח, שאנחנו דרסנו אותם פיזית בשוחות, והם ברחו והדרך נפתחה. זו הפעולה שבגללה הפלוגה שלי קיבלה את התואר 'שועלי שמשון'. זה היה כאילו אבא קובנר, שהיה קצין התרבות של החטיבה היה לו ראש פורה בדברים כאלה אז הוא נתן לנו מין אות ציון פלוגתי 'שועלי שמשון.‏'

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: Negba, Sapir, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Zvi Zur, Abba Kovner

Duration: 3 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017