|The Third Attack and the Conquest of the Nebi Yusha Fortress |
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In the middle of May 1948, an order was given for a third attack on the fortress. A large force was selected for the operation: an entire company from the 3rd regiment (that consisted of one platoon from each company) and two 20 mm. field guns.
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According to the plan of action, it was determined that the force would approach the abandoned Nebi Yusha village from the south, under cover of darkness. From that point, one of the platoons would break through the barbed-wire fence by means of 'bangalors' (pipes filled with explosives). The force would then enter through the breach, lay the explosive devices next to the wall blow it up while, at the same time, shelling the fortress with the two field guns and the three 'Piats'. Tear-gas had been inserted into the 'Piat' shells but it had no effect on the defenders of the fortress.
This operation had several faults:
The field gun shells were unable to penetrate the thick walls of the fortress and there was no possibility of breaking through by laying 70 kilograms of explosives next to the wall.
The operation was launched on the 16.5.1948, at dawn. It appeared that the Arabs had exploited the time between attacks in order to cram in more barbed wire 'concertinas'. Cutting the fences under fire was out of the question and the three 'bungalors' had already been activated. The attacking force began to throw explosives on the 'concertinas' until finally a path was cleared. However, this action depleted their reserve of explosives and not enough remained for breaking into the fortress wall.
The force then set siege to the fortress, and began by shouting in order to convince the defenders to surrender. At daybreak the fighters took cover. On the following day there was a heavy 'sharav' (intensely hot winds), and some members of the besieging force suffered from heat-stroke and dehydration. During the day additional supplies of explosives were brought by plane from Tel Aviv and by porters to the area of the fortress. At nightfall the heavy guns began to shell the stronghold and a plane sent to aid the force, dropped a bomb and missed the target. During the day a great number of Lebanese armored vehicles were spotted entering and leaving and it was suspected that they were sending reinforcements to the fortress.
On the night of the 17th of May, the commander of the spearhead force, Emmanuel Spektor, began to move the force: the men approached the fortress wall stealthily and activated the explosive devices – but the wall still remained undamaged. There was total silence in the fortress – no shots were fired and no noises were heard.
It was decided to fire the 'Piat' in the direction of the fortress and, lo and behold, the armor penetrating 'Piat' shells broke through the walls of the stronghold and the Arabs ran outside. Thus their fighting spirit was broken and they began to flee: some were in armored vehicles that drove in the direction of Malkya and others by foot, northwards. At 2:00 am, on the 17th of May, the fortress was conquered. The force that entered found it totally deserted.
At daybreak the forces went out to comb the area in order to search for bodies from the 20th of April attack. Yigal Alon and Yerucham Cohen found them at a distance of 70-80 meters from the fortress, on the slopes of the valley.
They were buried together on the site of the Nebi Yusha Fortress.
The members of the force that conquered the fortress were exhausted from their physical efforts and during the day they all fell asleep. During the morning a number of artillery shells were fired at the fortress from Lebanese guns. Tragically, one of the shells penetrated the building and two men were killed.
Twenty eight men were killed in the three attacks.
Yigal Alon said:
"This will be called "Metzudat Koach" because כ"ח ' kaf-het' (acronym for 28) men fell in the battle to conquer the fortress."
These are the names of the fallen:
Amnon Akerman Yosef Ohali
Aryeh Barzilai Eliezer Ben Nevet
Meir Ben Bassat Zvi Horowitz
Nehemia Wissotzky Yuval Tolitzinsky
Amnon Yekutieli Yitczhak Yizraelowitz
Avraham Cohen Hanan Kochba
Yisrael Levinsky Malachi Moskowitz
Shlomo Mizrachi Moshe Neeman
Moshe Stashi Boaz Amikam
Yizhar Armoni Filon Friedman
Eliezer Futerman David Cherkasky
Mordechai Rauch Eliezer Shevet