Skip to comments.Jenin War Diary of a Hasidic Soldier (Israeli describes what went on in Jenin)
Posted on 04/25/2002 5:42:23 PM PDT by Alouette
Friday Night, 3rd day of Passover, March 29, 2002
I finish the Shabbat meal with my family and go out to wish "Mazal Tov" to a neighbor who's holding a shalom zachar party, celebrating the birth of baby boy. Around the table there's talk about neighbors who've already been recruited. Some friends are poking fun at me: "We thought you were a combat soldier, how come you're still here?"
The truth is I wasn't expecting an Order-8 (call for reserve duty). It's true that I belong to a reserve combat infantry unit, but being older than 41 I'm treated as "frozen goods." Just a few weeks ago we, the unit geezers, celebrated the fact that we're done with active reserve service.
It's 11:30 PM. There's a knock on the door. It's an "Order 8." I try to get organized. I used to keep a knapsack with all the equipment required for emergency calls, but now everything's scattered about all over the house. My wife and daughters join the effort and we collect everything, item by item. At some point I wonder whether I should pack my tefillin (since it is Shabbat, and I wont be needing them until after the holiday, on the following Friday). I recall the story about the late Rabbi Meir Freiman who was recruited on Yom Kippur and insisted on taking along his lulav and etrog (for the holiday of Sukkot). I pack the tefillin.
Midnight. I climb the bus, wave good bye to the kids. I'm first on board, as the bus now begins its lengthy rounds through the neighboring villages. I make a note of gratitude for the driver, who keeps his radio shut and refrains from smoking out of respect to my Shabbat observance. The trip continues into the night, as more and more recruits climb on. I must admit I was pretty glum. After all, to be snatched in one fell swoop from a magical Shabbat in Kfar Chabad and transported to this interminable bus ride
At 3:00 am, in Tzafria, an officer of the elite unit Egoz got on the bus. I saw how delighted the young man was to have been called, so eager to go in and hit the terrorists. In an instant my own mood changed and I, too, became filled with strength and decisiveness, thinking as I had been given an opportunity to defend with my body my home, my wife and children, and the whole nation of Israel.
By 6:00 am we reached the Offer compound, our headquarters. The organizational mess was considerable. It took us an inordinate amount of time to locate our supplies and set up the equipment. In the meantime I began preparing for the morning prayer. In the camp synagogue some 200 people of all walks of life assembled: knitted yarmulkes, Charedim ("ultra-orthodox"), Sephardim, Chasidim.
At the end of the service I was approached by a baal teshuvah (a recent "returnee" to Torah observance) who asked if I had hand-baked matzah. He told me he wouldn't eat machine-baked matzah and so hadn't eaten a thing since yesterday. I made kiddush, we ate my matzah and we improvised a kind of Shabbat meal. The atmosphere was quite cheerful. It warms the heart to see such a spirit of voluntarism all around. I met there the father of six who nevertheless left his family and enlisted. I was happy to meet our company commander, Major Moshe Gerstner, an excellent officer.
Sunday, 18 Nissan, 4th Day of Passover, March 31, 2002
In the morning we were informed we were being positioned in Jenin, and to that end were going to receive some training in a military installation up north. We arrived there at noon and began training, which included a series of exercises of combat in urban terrain.
Monday, 19 Nissan, 5th Day of Passover, April 1, 2002
Among the guys here I'm known as the company elder statesman. I've been with this unit since '82, when we went into Lebanon to take over Sidon. My contemporaries, who've been through Lebanon, know the urban combat procedures inside and out. So we asked the company commander for a pass to hop home to pick up essential supplies. Because of the urgency of my Friday night enlistment I hadn't brought many needed items. Besides, I hadn't tasted any real food on base, because of Passover. I wanted to go home to eat.
The company commander permitted us to leave at 5:30 pm and come back the next day. I left for home and arrived around 10:00 in the evening. I ate a warm meal (last one to date) and caught some zees in my own bed, an indulgence which now sees very remote
Tuesday, 20 Nissan, 6th day of Passover, April 2, 2002
At 7:00 am we returned to base, for the final preparations before embarking on Jenin. Our company commander brought us up to date on the coming operation. In retrospect it turns out that we underestimated the force of resistance we would run up against.
There was tension in the air. I wished to say some words of encouragement. I opened the Chumash (bible) and read out a few verses dealing with the need to fight with determination, without fear. The company commander asked me to speak some more, to uplift everybody's spirits. I discussed the statement by Maimonides, that when Jewish soldiers go to war they must do so with faith in their victory and without fear, because G-d goes with us.
In the evening it poured. We were a rather large group of religious soldiers. As the holiday began (i.e., the 7th day of Passover), we stood under a lamppost to conduct the holiday evening prayer. The regiment's chaplain gave a motivational speech, and then we made kiddush on board our troop carrier. I had brought wine and matzahs and now conducted a kind of holiday meal.
We set out in a massive column, which included tanks, troop carriers, heavy bulldozers and countless other vehicles. We arrived in the Jenin refugee camp in the morning hours. We crossed the camp, and everything seemed quiet. Not a single shot was fired. Things appeared to be simple and easy, but we could sense the tension in the air, even though we weren't sure why. I recall our company commander's last words: "This is no laughing matter. I've commanded many missions in my lifetime, but this is the most challenging operation I've ever run."
Wednesday, 21 Nissan, 7th day of Passover, April 3, 2002
We reached the hilltop on the outskirts of our target. The company commander gave us our final instructions and the force was on its way. It was 11:30 am. I took advantage of a few free minutes to wrap myself in my tallit and pray the holiday morning prayer. Suddenly I hear one of the communications men yelling, "Chief is hurt." A while later it turned out it was our chief, Moshe Gerstner. May G-d avenge his blood. He was hit by a sniper directly in his temple.
His men risked their lives without hesitation to remove him under hellish fire and put him, when still critically injured, on a chopper. A disturbing pall fell on the warriors. Things got worse when two more soldiers were injured. We were becoming very upset. At that time our number two and his three platoon chiefs took command and led the company in an exceptionally competent fashion, in my opinion, under the toughest circumstances. I finished my prayer with a heavy heart and made kiddush. Suddenly the regimental coordinator came to me and said Gerstner's family is asking for his belongings. I wasn't born yesterday. I understood immediately what this meant. The blow was terrible for all of us, and particularly for me.
But I pulled myself together right away. We were at war and you can't afford to become depressed at war. You must get stronger and strengthen your buddies. Before evening some thirty soldiers assembled around me. I took out what little matzah I had left and a bottle of wine and told the guys it was time for "Moshiach's meal," to enhance our faith in the coming redemption. All of them responded as one: "what we need now is Moshiach." I handed out matzah and wine to everybody and we had a kind of Chanukah miracle -- there was enough matzah and wine for thirty people
Thursday, 22 Nissan, April 2, 2002
Throughout the day there was heavy fighting in the camp. I was engaged in transporting forces from one point to the next in a troop carrier. As long as you're inside the carrier, you're relatively sheltered, if you're careful to avoid the explosive charges laid out by the terrorists. The problem begins as soon as you stick your head outside or when you try to move from one house to the next.
Inside the camp snipers positioned themselves in protected nests, which were very hard to locate. The tank crews were asking us to point out the sources of fire but it was extremely hard to do, as the shooting was accurate and highly focused. One of us experimented with a helmet which he placed on top of a stick and extended outside our position. The helmet was shot at immediately.
Meanwhile, we received warnings that teams of terrorists were planning suicide bombings near IDF troops. This forced us to stay on guard even more. Then our kosher food ran out. I called up Yaakov Kenig of Kfar Chabad and asked him to send us wine for kiddush, rolls and other food. I also asked for coffee and tea. I coordinated with the company sergeant who was accompanying an injured man to the hospital and was later due at a funeral, to pick up our food on his way back. And, indeed, he appeared before Shabbat with a bag full of food which helped us through the holy day.
Friday, 23 Nissan, April 5, 2002
I finished my guard shift and began the morning prayer. I finished around 7:00 am. Suddenly one of the guys from our sister company ran over and asked to put on tefillin. The entire platoon followed suit, and a line was formed by my tefillin. Guys who always refused to put on tefillin now began to do it. I didn't understand what was going on.
Then one of the soldiers told about the shocking death of Einan Sharabi, may G-d avenge his blood. He was with the forces that took over the camp. His unit finished clearing one of the houses and Einan found a quiet corner, wrapped himself in a tallit, put on tefillin and stood in morning prayer. A Palestinian sniper tried to shoot through the window into the house. Unfortunately, one bullet hit the window guard, ricocheted and fatally hit Einan. In solidarity with the fact that their comrade had been killed while putting on tefillin, all his friends came to me asking to put on tefillin.
Shabbat, 24 Nissan, April 6, 2002
On Friday afternoon our crew was ordered to go outside the camp and situate ourselves in a field by the mountain slope. I told my buddies, Let's get a minyan together. Quickly we assembled a prayer quorum, half of which, by the way, was composed of non-religious soldiers. It's hard to describe the feeling of singing the Lecha Dodi verses in an open field, in the middle of the toughest battle.
After the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers I made kiddush. All the guys waited until I made kiddush on the wine and then we had a Shabbat meal out in the field. The atmosphere was elated and the food was great: rolls, tuna, kosher spam and a few tomatoes. Two hours later the supply arrived, with ammunition and a hot meal, but everybody was already satiated. The entire Shabbat we stayed put, while in the refugee camp the fighting continued from one house to the next. Late afternoon, between Minchah and the end of Shabbat, I got the soldiers together and taught them a chapter from the tractate Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers.
After Shabbat we went out on a complicated mission, in collaboration with a special force which arrived to complete the refugee camp takeover. It was a difficult and dangerous mission, demanding a high state of alert to avoid soldiers getting injured.
I went to sleep at 2:00 am. At 4:00 am they woke me up again. Our boys came back from the refugee camp and wanted something to eat. You can't imagine how happy we all were to see everybody alive and well. We hardly exchanged words. Only a handshake, or a pat on the shoulder, without any words, but those gestures said everything. An officer from the settlement of Elli, a religious guy, asked me, "You have any wine left? I haven't done Havdalah yet." I had exactly one cup of wine left. The man did the Havdalah ceremony and only then did everybody touch their food.
These days we're sleeping three to four hours at night. A shower or even a change of clothes are out of the question.
Sunday, 25 Nissan, April 7, 2002
In the morning we got orders to move to different assembly areas. Everyone passing by me asked to put on tefillin. One guy came to ask how to make the "HaGomel" blessing of gratitude, after three bullets had whistled right above his head. This was a guy who never put on tefillin in the past, yet now he came to give thanks to G-d for the miracles he experienced inside the camp.
It's heartening to see the wonderful spirit of voluntarism among the guys. Two of our people suffered dehydration in the house where they were staying and a doctor sent them to be evacuated. The two of them fought to go back into battle, knowing full well the kind of hell they were going to. There were men who had been chronically absent during training sessions, yet here they were, every last one of them. You saw the nation of Israel in its finest hour. All the talk about "conscientious objectors" seem like they belong on another planet. Here the opposite holds true.
During the evening hours the camp takeover neared its completion. Tens of armed terrorists surrendered and turned over their weapons. There were still a few pockets of resistance, but I believed that by morning and the next day we'd manage, with G-d's help, to finish the cleanup in the camp and finish off those final pockets of resistance.
to be continued...
As told to Menachem Brod by Sergeant Major Rami Meir.
Translated from the Hebrew by Yori Yanover
Their fight is our fight.
Be Seeing You,
Now there's a worthy man.
That is so true. We will soon be facing the same enemy on our own shores. Radical Muslim extremists will be carrying out terrorist acts here in the US. Israel is on the front line right now - and we should be thankful.
I notice he says that a lot.
They need us all right now, folks. To Hell with the idiotic U.N.; to Hell with the leftist media. This has become a worldwide struggle between the Islamic east and the Judeo-Christian west. We didn't start it.........................................................................................but we'll DAMNED well finish it.
I took out what little matzah I had left and a bottle of wine and told the guys it was time for "Moshiach's (Messiah's) meal," to enhance our faith in the coming redemption. All of them responded as one: "what we need now is Moshiach." I handed out matzah and wine to everybody and we had a kind of Chanukah miracle -- there was enough matzah and wine for thirty people
We don't believe in turnig the other cheek. We believe that if someone is trying to muyrder you or a memberof the community, you have an obligation to stop him with all neccesary force.
I'm sure they've read it. What a wonderful post. I've read it more than once. It's nice not to have the thread disrupted.
I was going to say it's unsolicited e-mail from Jewish organizations, but in this context it is a processed meat product made from kosher beef or chicken parts.
"I Couldnt Stand the Lies"
By Asaf Haim
22 April 2002
Dr. David Zangen, a senior pediatrician at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, who received his mobilization order for army service in Jenin, did not think that he would also be recruited for Israels information campaign. Normally, he is a calm person, but the accusations made by the UN Special Envoy to the Middle East, Terje Larsen, regarding a "massacre" supposedly carried out by Israel in Jenin have infuriated him.
Dr. Zangen could not restrain himself, and called the Israel Army Radio service, to protest Larsens charges. Dr. Zangens comments are particularly significant, because he treated both wounded Israelis and Palestinians with great dedication. In this way, Dr. Zangen became a spokesman for the IDF, for one day. His account sheds a little light on what really happened in the refugee camp.
"I was incensed by Larsens remarks. He must not be allowed to continue with these lies", stated Dr. Zangen to Maariv. "I was there during the fighting, and I saw close up what was happening. I know that the IDF did everything it could to prevent civilian casualties. It is clear to everyone that if the IDF had resorted to aerial bombardment or heavy artillery, we would have completed [our mission] in the refugee camp within half a day, without suffering any casualties on our side. We did not adopt that policy, and we took risks in the fighting, in an attempt to rescue those innocent civilians that were caught up in the battles.
Anyone who says that Israel carried out a massacre is lying and inciting the Arabs. Instead of acting to bring about reconciliation and peace, Larsen is creating hatred."
Dr. Zangen continued, "IDF soldiers did not enter the Jenin hospital, and ensured that the hospital could operate without disruption. No IDF soldier set foot in the hospital. The Palestinians hid there in the knowledge that we would not enter. Everyone knows this, and anyone who says otherwise is lying and inciting. The descriptions of the smell of the bodies in the refugee camp are also exaggerated out of all proportion.
A week after the fighting, I walked around the camp without a mask, with journalists from all over the world, and there was no smell. The journalists knew this, but all of a sudden, they claimed that there was a stench in the camp from bodies that had not been evacuated.
Twenty-five bodies were found altogether, and most of the bodies were those of the terrorists. There may have been one area in the entire camp in which there were a number of bodies buried under the rubble, and this would explain the smell. However, aside from this case, there was no smell in the refugee camp - this is just a crude lie."
Dr. Zangen, who found himself in the eye of the storm, is appalled at the attempt to portray the IDF as an immoral army. "There are those who say that the events in Jenin were like a holocaust. However, if you were to enter the camp, you would find that only a few dozen homes were destroyed. These were homes that were booby-trapped for the purpose of killing soldiers.
This was a fortress of terrorism. 200 terrorists wired up the camp with booby-traps, they took control of it and recruited suicide bombers at every opportunity. In recent years, a third of the suicide bombers have come from the Jenin refugee camp.
We found photo albums with pictures of children wearing explosive belts; studio photographs of future shahidim [martyrs], children aged between 16 and 18, who want to kill Israelis in suicide attacks. All the homes in the refugee camp are covered with wall-to-wall pictures of martyrs.
It is unbelievable. These [martyrs] are their heroes.
Their aim was to carry out suicide attacks against the IDF soldiers.
If there were innocent civilians in the area, they were either the hostages of the terrorists or collaborators. In any case, during each stage of the fighting, we called out to all those who did not want to fight - to leave the homes. The terrorists exploited the departure of these people, and they were shooting at us."
Dr. Zangen is a doctor of the brigade that fought in Jenin, and treated many of the wounded. "The soldiers fought without harming civilians", he stated. "This was noticeable in every place and on every level. I was moved by the sight of soldiers conducting themselves in such a dignified and moral manner. Most of us are reserve soldiers; we are not hotheaded people, and we were all very careful.
I was impressed by the great care exercised by the IDF in avoiding civilian casualties - especially with regard to children. The resolve and volunteering spirit also impressed me. They were all ready to fight, and no one shirked their duties. The Unit and Divisional Commanders who fought there are the creme de la creme of the Israeli people, and it is thanks to them that we are still alive. They did not lose their humanity."
"I am infuriated by the claims of a massacre in Jenin, for another reason. The paramedics and I risked our lives to treat the wounded Palestinians. As well as the wounded, we also treated the sick. The Palestinian doctors did not come to their aid, and we could not leave them without medical treatment. The Palestinian doctors were unable to reach a girl who had an attack of appendicitis.
The soldiers brought the girl over to us and we treated her. In another case, a youngster came to us with a neck wound. We saved his life, in spite of his Islamic Jihad tattoo. We tried to provide full treatment for every Palestinian, and I am proud of it. I am in no doubt: the Americans would not have taken such risks, and would have acted differently. We acted in this way, simply to avoid civilian casualties."
Hodi Broker from Haifa, a thirty-year-old teaching assistant from Technion university, who served as a paramedic in a field hospital, also talks about the treatment of the Palestinians: "an elderly person who was wounded in the refugee camp came to us. We treated him, and we wanted to send him back to Jenin, but there was nowhere for him [to receive treatment]. The Red Crescent refused to take him. We took pity on him and we transported him to a hospital in Israel. I hope he is well."
Dr. Zangen, the father of four children, fought in Lebanon, and this is the first time that he is on the battlefield serving as a doctor. "When you are serving as a doctor, your perspective is completely different. It was difficult for me to witness soldiers being hit by mass murderers who have no red lines, and who are even prepared to exploit children. I saw pictures of children who were ready to carry out suicide attacks. As a pediatrician, it was terrible to see such a thing, and I am appalled by the very thought of a killing machine that exploits innocent children. For instance, soldiers encountered a six year-old boy who ran into the street with a bag. They wanted to check the contents of the bag, and he threw the bag at them. There were three pipe bombs in the bag. One other difficult problem is the treatment of wounded fellow-soldiers from the unit. It is a traumatic experience."
As the senior doctor on the ground, Zangen was forced to make difficult decisions - who should be treated on the ground? Who should be evacuated? When should treatment be abandoned, and be provided to another wounded [soldier]? "These are difficult moments, in which the fate of friends is determined. All the time, you are also aware that these people are reservists, with families, who were among the living, and all of a sudden, they are killed or wounded. And then, you are not only thinking about them, but also thinking about the widow and the orphaned children left at home."
Dr. Zangen has returned to Hadassah hospital, but the images of the battlefield are still fresh in his mind. He talks of the courage and the steadfastness of the wounded soldiers. "Some of these wounds were so severe, that I thought that they would be unable to withstand the pain.
The soldiers suffered in silence, displaying true courage. They knew why they were fighting. I remember a soldier who was hit by a bullet in the stomach, and who suffered excruciating pain. Yet he wanted to know when he was going back into battle. The Israeli people need to know that we have a noble generation that we can all rely upon."
| NY POST: THE MASSACRE THAT WASN'T
Peres: There wasn't a house that wasn't booby-trapped
| Steyn: It's time to snap out of Arab fantasy land
Some great Oriana Fallaci quotes/links as well
| WSJ: THE MASSACRE THAT WASN'T - Part I
Non-evidence and Pali fabrication of evidence
| Steyn: The UN is running out of blind eyes to turn
Interesting link on UN backpedaling
| WSJ: THE MASSACRE THAT WASN'T - Part II
Palestinians drop their hyped-up "massacre" charges
| Palestinian Fighter admits - NO MASSACRE IN JENIN
Up to 2,000 bombs and booby traps placed in the camp
| WSJ: THE MASSACRE THAT WASN'T - Part III
Hey, Jimmy Carter has an opinion too!!
| Pediatrician notes terrorists' use of children in Jenin camp
Doctor: IDF did everything possible to prevent civilian harm
| WSJ: THE MASSACRE THAT WASN'T - Part IV
Yet more non-evidence and Pali fabrication of evidence
| Brutal, yes. Massacre, no
Lefty backtracking. See Post 21 for Pali booby-trap details
| Reporters Back Down From Jenin "Massacre" Reports
World press forced to face the truth: No Massacre
| Palestinians Used Booby-Trapped Wheelchair in Jenin
Note: The wheelchair was occupied!!
| Atrocities of the British Press
Huge amounts of ink devoted to unverified Pali tales
| Jenin War Diary of a Hasidic Soldier
Israeli citizen-soldier describes what went on in Jenin
Key Dates in History of Product With an Extraordinary Shelf Life
1937: Hormel rolls out its first can of a luncheon meat it calls Spiced Ham. Kenneth Daigneau. An actor and friend of the Hormel family, wins $100 in a contest to name the pink product. The winner combined the "sp" with the "am" and got Spam.
1945: Spam saves the Russian army, or so says Nikita Krushchev in his memoirs. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would later refer to Spam as "a wartime delicacy."
1955-57: Spam production goes global as Hormel establishes manufacturing agreements with companies in Ireland, Venezuela, England and Canada. Later, Israel gets a kosher Spam.
1970: Spam debuts on television as a Monty Python's Flying Circus performs a comedy sketch in which the Green Midget Cafe serves up plenty of Spam. Wife: Have you got anything without Spam? Waitress: There's Spam, eggs, sausage and Spam. That's not got much Spam in it.
1986: Hormel sells its 4 billionth can of Spam.
1991: Soldiers sent to the Middle East to liberate Kuwait are spared Spam in their rations, as the U.S. military withholds pork in deference to the religious beliefs of their Persian Gulf hosts.
1998: Hormel changes the Spam can, replacing the image of the fake ham roast with a photo of a Spamburger.
2000: Hormel and the Minnesota State Lottery jointly sponsor a Spam lottery game. "It was one of our biggest games ever," said lottery director George Andersen.
Source: Hormel Foods Corp., Carolyn Wyman.
I didn't know there was a Spam museum. Thanks for the tip!
We, the people of Hawaii, have made a significant contribution to that 4 billion number.
As soon as I started reading the article, I immediately figured I was sending this one to my Terrorist War Mailing List (15-20 people). When I got to that part, I had my excerpt. Cut'n'pasted, and hit send.
To ALL FREEPERS Who Love And Support Israel,
This is an Excellent Post!
In this World of Islamic Demonic LIES...
WE Must Stand Up And Tell The TRUTH!
And...WE Must Keep On Telling It!
May The Holy One Of Israel Bless and Protect The IDF,
And ALL of Our American Troops ALL Over The World!
May G-D Also Bless and Protect The Australian, Canadian and Brittish Troops too!
Baruch HaShem, Amen & Amen.
Like my Momma always says, no good deed goes unpunished.