4 – An Israeli Hero – Avigdor Kahalani
Avigdor Kahalani, who quit the active military service as a brigadier, is one of the heroes of Israel and received the highest military medals in Israel, the “Medal of Valor” and the „Distinguished Service Medal“.
When he, born in 1944, joined the IDF in 1962 he was ready to serve in every branch of the IDF, except with the tanks. He did not like tanks, they caused anxieties. Where was he sent to? To the tanks and he remained with his tanks until 1992, when he quit the service.
June 5th, 1967 the Six Day War began. At that time Israel was too small for a standing army. When General Nasser’s tanks appeared at Israel’s border the total army reserve was mobilized. The Egyptian army disposed of about 1200 tanks, about 500 planes and 250.000 soldiers. Egypt’s allies who joined the war doubled these numbers. For the military success schools, industry, shops and the administration was shut down, unless required for the basic supply. Private cars have been requisitioned as long as they were somehow fit to take part in a war.
After the mobilization Israel disposed of more than 275‘000 soldiers, 800 tanks and 400 planes.
The reason for this war was the closure of the straits of Tiran, the entry to the Red Sea for Israel. Most of Israel’s crude oil imports passed thru Eilat and for Israel its closure was a casus belli. Egypt claimed it was a strategy to prevent Israel to attack Syria. The UN secretary insisted, that since a long time no Israeli ships have been seen at the port of Navai and therefore the straits of Tiran were unimportant for Israel.
But the President of Egypt, Abdel Nasser had entirely different plans, on 27 May, he declared: „Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.“
On June 5th. Israel made a preventive attack against the Egyptian air force and destroyed about 350 planes. This deactivated the enemy’s air force practically completely.
Avigdor Kahalani fought as commander together with three comrades in his Patton tank M48 Magach 1 at the foremost front. His tank was hit on the first day and burned out. Only he survived badly injured. In the coming 1 1/2 years he underwent 17 surgeries. His health profile was reduced from 97 down to 34, which would justify instant discharge from military service because of health reasons.
It is interesting to know, that 40 of the M48 Magach were from Germany. The entire order was originally 150 tanks but it was interrupted after the fierce criticism from the Arab world. The USA supplied the remaining number of tanks to Israel with an additional supply of 100 tanks.
The training of the future tank drivers, most of them holocaust survivors, took place in the training camp Munster in Luneburg Heath.
This year, 2015, are both states officially celebrating 50 years anniversary of mutual diplomatic relations. But what happened end 1958 will not be celebrated. The German Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Strauss and his political counterpart from Israel, Shimon Peres met in the house of Strauss in Zell am See (Austria). There the two visionaries negotiated contracts for weapons. The shipments must be disguised as civil goods (how would you hide a tank?) but not directly from Germany to Israel. Two men planned the shipment of the weapons through Italy and France, Reinhard Gehlen, a previous high ranking officer in the German Army during 2nd WW and now director of Germany’s new secret service and Isser Harel, director of the Mossad. They could not have been more different but they had a common goal, to protect Israel with weapons from Germany.
Avigdor Kahalani, who did not want to be with the tanks returned to his old division. In the six years between two wars he had to undergo more than 50 surgeries until his skin was completely repaired.
1973, during the war of Yom Kippur, he fought, in meantime 29 years old, as commander of the IDF tank battalion 77. Chances for the Israeli troops were bad. Israel had 40 tanks, the Syrian‘s 500. On the Golan, the battle seemed to be decided and Israel’s destiny regarding the Golan, from the high plateau it might have been easy to move into Israel and capture large areas. The only reason the Golan was of any purpose for Syria was to use it as a military concentration area for a devastating blow to Israel.
But, the IDF had Avigdor! Kahalani and his battalion have been ordered to counterattack. He passed the order on to his crews and met the Syrian tanks. What happened next was a military nightmare. Suddenly he was opposite three Syrian tanks and he was alone. Something went wrong and is now difficult to explain, a technical mistake, an error or the exhausted tank crews? The tanks supposed to follow took a wrong turn and had to reverse and catch up with him.
His tank crew neutralized the 1st and 2nd tank. The 3rd tank aimed his gun at them but the grenade blocked the tube. When his missed tanks arrived also the 3rd tank blew up.
The battle took a full day, until the Syrians, taking heavy losses, withdrew. Remaining behind were 260 destroyed tanks, 500 armed carriers, 500 armed transport trucks and many other wrecks as silent witness of this militarily miracle.
The battlefield received the name „Valley of Tears“.
Until today many large mined areas remind about the Syrian offensives. They are marked very noticeable to avoid any danger to hikers. To the questions, why are the mine fields not cleared, are two answers. At first, removing mines is difficult and dangerous and if not necessary its not reasonable for our soldiers to do it. Second, nobody knows which mines are dangerous and which are not. If Syrian soldiers wish to enter the Golan, or terrorists, they are very restricted to move and have a problem. Finally, we don’t ask them for a visit.
General Rafael Eitan said in an address to soldiers of the armoured corps after the war:
If we had not stopped the Syrians on the Golan Heights, then the State of Israel would have been destroyed…This division saved Israel from defeat, from catastrophe…I want to stress and make it clear to you; you saved the people of Israel. First and foremost, you
5 – Israels strategic situation in the midst of a hostile Middle East
The opening statement of an employee of the Ministry of Defense was astonishing:
Todate Israel is in its best strategic situation since decades.
Current military coalitions among Arab states and their friends are too weak to be a serious danger.
The terror is dangerous despite the fact that it lessened in the past 10-15 years. However, Israel failed because it has not yet the means to oppose and stop it. The fight against terror changed in the past years. Since the erection of a security fence along the border of Yehuda and Shomron the number of terror attacks decreased drastically. On difficult sites only the fence is partially replaced by a wall.
More information regarding the wall follows on part 8/10 of this report.
Where previously tanks have been used in the fight against terror, the IDF has now faster and more better results with precisely planned and executed pin-point actions. In the past years were many such cases, namely the so-called targetted killings in the Gaza strip.
More detailed information regarding “Targeted Killings: Between the Laws of War and Criminal Law” you can find here. TOWARDS A NEW LAW OF WAR CONFERENCE, Jerusalem May 4-5, 2015
Not always evident but nonetheless existing are the very tight relations regarding security between Israel and the USA. Apparently both, the US President Obama and the PM Benjamin Netanyahu, succeed to put their private sensitivities behind necessary actions for their countries and to promote them. These relations have been the main topic between both in the past days.
The Lebanon of to date exists only on maps and in the intellectual world of the UNO. According to international law the Republic of Lebanon is not anymore a state. De facto Lebanon has no elected and acting president and the country is „ruled“ by Hassan Nasrallah, a recognized terrorist. Nasrallah is a Shiite Muslim and since 1992 chief of the Lebanese party and terror organization Hitzbollah and is also their generalissimo. Hitzbollah is established, financed and influenced by the Islamic Republic Iran.
Thanks to the Hitzbollah, the Lebanon owns one of the largest arsenals worldwide. Smuggling weapons is possible without problems across the country, because there are no controlled borders with Syria.
Nasrallah recognized too late, that Hitzbollah lost since the second war in Lebanon influence and punch. It was a military mistake to provoke Israel. His target, to capture the Galil is out of reach as ever.
Syria has about 10-12 million refugees and far more than 300.000 deaths. In syria are still chemical weapons which can be deployed anytime and have been used (against civilians), but the available volumes are no existential threat to Israel. There are no suspicious facts that the country has nuclear weapons. In 2007 Israel destroyed a nuclear facility, financed by Iran and built with North Korean technology. Currently rumors are intensifying that President Bashar al-Assad is about to build a new nuclear reactor, as previously with help from his Iranian and north Korean friends.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is influenced by Syria because of the civil war. Strategically Jordan is very important for Israel, it is a buffer area against Iraq and Iran. Despite the peace agreement between the two countries they do not enjoy the great mutual love. Since the death of HM King Hussein I, may he rest in peace, the relations cooled down. If Jordan is still supporting Israel with intelligence, then because of its struggle for survival. Jordan requires urgently ecological assistance, it has no natural resources. Water is supplied from Israel, 93% of the population are Sunni Muslims, 20% are Hashemite. This clan can be traced back to the great-grandfather of Mohammed. The wife of HM King Abdullah II, Queen Rania is from Palestinian origin. Several thousand refugees from Syria live in Jordan and many descendants of Palestinian refugees from the first war between Israel and the Arab countries. They are Jordan citizens but are still living in refugee camps. The unemployment rate is about 15%. If a terror act takes place it will not only shed a lot of blood against the royal house but it will be considered as a threat against Israel.
If the two agents, recruited, trained and paid by the Mossad, Shark 1 and Shark 2, are not making troubles at the resorts in the south of the Sinai in Egypt, as they did in 2010, it is in the deep south of the country very quiet. The Bedouin clans co-operate very closely with any government and are acquiring a respectable income from tourism. This in contrast with the Bedouin clans in the northwest of the Sinai. There the Bedouins are smuggling using their ancient paths almost everything between Egypt and Gaza.
The trade with slaves and women is booming, torture is standard practice. The local security forces close their eyes. Practically daily people are killed when extremists, the IS and Al-Kaida are attacking the security forces. In meantime the borders between Egypt and Gaza are hermetically closed, namely because the rulers in Gaza, Hamas, Jihad and IS are no friends of Egypt current government. On a length of 14 km Egypt destroyed 2000 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. The trade came down considerably.
Acting President Abd al-Fattah as-Sis is not a dedicated Zionist nor a real democrat, but no danger for Israel. During his presidency a cool or rather cold peace will persist.
©esther scheiner, israel