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A first class troublemaker


The Fallujah pocket
Uri Avnery Social activist
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The fighting continued, although I'm not sure whether at this point, this night was the turning point of the war because that evening we started to attack and the Egyptians went on the defensive. One of the results was that we managed to encircle an entire Egyptian brigade in what was called the Fallujah pocket. Fallujah was a large Arab village where Kiryat Gat is now located. I forgot to say that after those battles ended the second ceasefire started, a ceasefire that we had violated at every opportunity. We violated it because when the second ceasefire started, the Negev was cut off and Ben-Gurion could not bear this so we violated it again and again to open a route to the Negev. I remember once we were ordered to escort a convoy of dozens of trucks which needed to pass between the Egyptian outposts - near what is today called Kiryat Gat - towards the Negev, because the Negev was simply hungry. It was very strange for us to be moving with a large convoy. The Egyptians didn't like to fight at night. There were all sorts of myths that they have eye diseases and they do not see well at night. They had not been trained. The British Army doesn't train soldiers to fight at night. Fighting at night is a method for the weak, when they have no weapons. Anyway we got through. It was 50, 80 trucks, through two Egyptian outposts and we also returned without any mishaps. It was a very strange experience.

אז ככה נמשכו הקרבות. ואני מעז לומר, אם כי אני לא בטוח, שהנקודה הזאת, הלילה הזה היה נקודת המפנה של המלחמה. מפני שמאותו לילה אנחנו עברנו להתקפה והמצרים עברו להתגוננות. אחת התוצאות הייתה שאנחנו הצלחנו לכתר חטיבה מצרית שלמה במה שנקרא 'כיס פלוג’ה'. פלוג'ה היה כפר ערבי גדול במקום שנמצאת היום קרית גת. שכחתי להגיד שאחרי שנגמרו הקרבות האלה והתחילה ההפוגה השנייה… ההפוגה שאנחנו הפרנו אותה בכל הזדמנות. הפרנו אותה, מפני שכשפרצה ההפוגה השנייה, הנגב היה מנותק ובן גוריון לא יכל לסבול שהנגב יהיה מנותק, אז הפרנו אותה שוב ושוב כדי לפתוח דרך לנגב. אני זוכר שפעם אחת קיבלנו פקודה ללוות שיירה של עשרות משאיות לעבור בין המשלטים המצריים ליד מה שנקרא היום קרית גת לנגב מפני שהנגב פשוט היה רעב. זו הייתה חווייה מאוד מוזרה לעבור עם שיירה גדולה. המצרים לא אהבו להילחם בלילה. היו כל מיני אגדות שיש להם מחלות עיניים והם לא רואים טוב בלילה. הם לא אומנו. הצבא הבריטי לא מאמן חיילים להילחם בלילה. להילחם בלילה זאת שיטה של חלשים, כשאין לך נשק. על כל פנים עברנו. זה היה חמישים, שמונים משאיות, דרך שני משלטים מצריים וגם חזרנו בלי שום התקלות. זו הייתה חוויה מאוד מוזרה.

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: Kiryat Gat, Negev, Kfar Menachem

Duration: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017