Friday, January 20, 2012

Yehiam Convoy

On 29.11.1947 UN Resolution 181 was passed.  It called for the partition of Palestine into 2 states, 1 Jewish, 1 Arab.  The Jews agreed to the plan, but the Arabs did not.  On 30.11.1947 the War of Independence started.  A bus from Netanya to Jerusalem was attached in Petah Tikva and 5 killed.

Monument to  convoy  victims 
At first the battles were for control of the road.  Jewish policy was to only fight if attacked, not to go on the offensive.  The British slowly started to release control of places, some they gave to the Arabs and some they gave to the Jews.  Some they just left and these were fought over.

The road to Kibbutz Yehiam, which has been founded in 1946 by Yehiam Weisz, was cut off.  The whole road was surrounded by Arab villages.  The kibbutzniks moved to the nearby old fortress for safety.  Convoys of armoured vehicles would bring people and supplies. 

On 27.3.1948 2 convoys were due to set out from Netanya.  One was to Hanita, Metzuba and Ayalon and got through safely. 

The other was to Yehiam and Ein Sara.  There were 90 people in 7 armoured vehicles.  Yehiam had already been attached twice earlier that day. The leader of the convoy, Eitan Tzatz, debated whether to go or not, as he realized there might be an ambush.  Ben Ami Fachter was in charge of the Palmach troops traveling with the convoy.

He decided to go.  At Kabri junction they found there was no one at the kibbutz.  They got as far as the Arab cemetrary, where 500 Arabs were waiting for them, having blocked the road with stones.  The first vehicle acted as a bulldozer and tried to get through.  Eitan Tzatz was killed, but the vehicle got through.  The second vehicle, with Ben Ami Fachter overturned and blocked the road.  The third and fourth vehicles turn around and returned.  The fifth and sixth vehicles contained 24 soldiers, including kibbutzniks returning home.  They tried to turn, but exploded.  The seventh vehicle was a bus with 36 people and eventually managed to turn around.  The whole battle took 7 hours and only 43 people were left alive.

In a 3 week period, 4 convoys were ambushed.

As a consequence the UN wanted to cancel Resolution 181.  They thought a UN mandate would be preferable to independence.

Ben Gurion decided to take action.  On 1.4.48 he decided to build the Burma road so that convoys could reach Jerusalem. On 13-14th May 1948 the Carmeli brigade captured the Western Galilee.

Two monuments have been built at the site, by the Moslem cemetery.  One a stone pillar with a list of the names of those killed and the other is a story of the battle on basalt stones.

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