> The War of Independence and the different fronts > The Central Front > The Ramat Rachel Battles
> The War of Independence > The War of Independence and the different fronts > The Central Front > The Ramat Rachel Battles

Ramat Rahel is Retaken

Amid furious fighting between units of the Egyptian army and the Jerusalem Hagana, kibbutz Ramat Rahel changed hands back and forth several times. On 25.5.49, two Palmach companies from the Fifth Battalion began an attack on Egyptian positions inside the kibbutz, fighting from building to building. The Egyptians retreated, and the kibbutz was liberated. The Arab Legions base in the Mar Elias Monastery was also captured. The threat on Jerusalem from the south had been averted.

For two days, units of the Jerusalem Haganas Field Corps attempted to dislodge the Egyptians from their positions inside Ramat Rahel. Twice they succeeded, and twice were beaten back with losses by Egyptian counter-attacks. On 24.5 the fighters of the Field Corps captured part of the settlement, but found themselves under fire from Arab armored vehicles and artillery.

Following a direct appeal by the authorities to Yitzhak Rabin, A company of the Fifth Battalion (under Yehudah Yidel Drexler) was dispatched to the site. Two platoons managed to penetrate the kibbutz as far as the dining hall. The fighters, who were not familiar with the place, organized themselves for either defense or offense. During the day, the Arabs tried several times to assault the building, backed up by armor and artillery. They were driven back with heavy losses by accurate fire from the dining hall, and from a small hill to the west of it. During this period, our forces tried to take over the childrens houses and other buildings occupied by the Arabs on the eastern side of the compound, but were driven off.

After the deputy commander of the Fifth Battalion had reported to the Hagana commander on the situation, a further attack was begun against the Arab units inside the kibbutz compound., Our units were reinforced by C company, under Jimmy (Aharon Shemi). After an artillery bombardment (one round from Davidka and three rounds from a three-inch mortar) upon the two-story childrens house in which the Egyptians were, our men came out of the dining hall, with a flame thrower and one PIAT anti-tank missile launcher, and took the childrens house by assault. The other Egyptian positions were taken soon after, the enemy fleeing toward Sur-Bahr.

At daybreak, the Egyptians mounted an attack from the south, but were repulsed with numerous casualties by very heavy fire. On the same day, the battalions demolition crews blew up the childrens house at the eastern end of the kibbutz, leaving a clear field of fire for defense.

That same night, B company captured the Mar Elias hill and the monastery atop it, which had served as an Arab Legion outpost on the Bethlehem- Jerusalem road. They also captured an artillery position from which the enemy had been shelling Ramat Rahel and southern Jerusalem. An enemy counter-attack was fought off. The monastery was cleaned out, the artillery emplacements destroyed, and the hill mined, as well as the road to Bethlehem. The company returned to base without losses.

In three days of fighting at Ramat Rahel, we had eight killed (four from the Palmach: Alexander Alperovitch, Zvi Marcus, Saadya Karavani) and 53 wounded. Enemy losses were several score dead.

The liberation of Ramat Rahel, and the elimination of the Mar Elias base, eliminated the Arab threat to Jerusalem from the south. The kibbutz was handed back to the Hagana command in Jerusalem. The attack by invading Arab armies, which had lasted three days, had been halted. From that time on, the Arabs never again crossed the border which was established then, south of Jerusalem.

Information Archive
The Beginning of the Palmach
Struggle against the British
The War of Independence
Dismantling of the Palmach
Palmach and the Settlements
The Palmach's Military Thinking
Units and Organizational Structure
Female Palmach Members
Culture and Folklore
Palmach Contribution and Legacy