July 4: Israel commemorates historic moment of War of Independence


For most people, July 4th immediately reminds of American Independence Day. For many Israelis the date is synonymous with the Entebbe rescue operation in 1976, and for others it also means the launch of a permanent memorial and educational site to remind future generations of the convoys. supplies that passed through the Arab blockades in the 1948 war. Independence to bring food and other provisions to the inhabitants of besieged Jerusalem.

major-general. (ret.) Matan Vilna’i has associations with the three dates. As deputy chief of staff, and later as a politician and diplomat, he was on the guest lists of U.S. embassies in Israel and China for Independence Day receptions.

Vilna’i was deputy commander of the Entebbe rescue operation and led the assault team. He is also the president of the non-profit association Israel Nature and Heritage Foundation, which is responsible for creating the monument to the convoys that passed during the bloody battles of the Harel brigade led by Yitzhak Rabin, who was later chief of staff during the Six Days. 1967 war.

Several rusty and worn armored vehicles of the brigade once lined the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway near Sha’ar Hagai. They were moved in 2013 to make way for a new traffic lane and are now located in Sha’ar Hagai Park. The former Turkish Khan of Sha’ar Hagai is being transformed into an educational center dedicated to the legendary stories of the convoys.

Vilna’i, who was born in Jerusalem, remembers that in his first year he waited with wide eyes for the convoys to enter the besieged city. The new project will be named after the late Holocaust survivor Avraham Livnat, popularly known as Bondy, who volunteered to be a convoy driver and had an enviable reputation for tackling and overcoming challenges head-on.

Sha’ar Hagai means “gate to the valley”. In Arabic it is called Bab el-Wad, which is the name of the haunting folk song, the lyrics of which were written by Israel’s first warrior-poet, Haim Guri. He died three and a half years ago at the age of 94 and symbolized the iconic image of the Israeli poet-warrior of King David’s time, with the sword in one hand and the quill in the other. .

Members of the Livnat family, OC Central Command Major-Gen. Tamir Yadai and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion were to attend the event. Lion will not be allowed to use the land in the area to build more high-rise residential complexes, as it is legally protected from urbanization.

No sooner will the event be over than Vilna’i will have to turn to the commemoration of the centenary of Rabin’s birth on March 1, 1922. A whole generation born after Rabin’s death knows that he was assassinated when he was prime minister, but they may not be aware of his career as defense minister, diplomat and soldier.

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