Heroism During the War in Lebanon

A collection of incidents of Israeli bravery and heroism during the recent war in Lebanon.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:28

Offensive Defense
A unit of the Harel Division was charged with taking over the outskirts of a southern Lebanese village from which Katyusha rockets were fired at the Galilee. During the morning hours, the enemy saw that the soldiers had taken over a house, and the terrorists prepared to attack. However, the division's elite Sayeret unit deployed such that each house would be protected from two angles.

The attack began, with the Israelis coming under heavy fire from anti-tank missiles and light weapons, and the terrorists consequently approaching the house. At that moment, the surrounding Israeli forces opened fire from their two directions, killing all the terrorists who were near the house and scattering the others. Our forces suffered a number of wounded, but they were able to hold on without medical treatment until the evening hours, when they were evacuated by helicopter.

The Famous Bint Jbeil Battle
During the early morning hours of July 26, our forces approached the hostile village of Bint Jbeil, just a few kilometers from the Israeli border. They tried to circle around and enter one of the houses, which was apparently near an important Hizbullah headquarters. But the terrorists were heavily deployed in the area, and they surprised the Israelis with heavy fire from atop a high terrace.

A number of soldiers were hit in the first burst of fire, and other soldiers quickly arranged themselves to rescue their comrades - dead or alive - and hit back at the enemy. The ambushing terrorists, however, had the advantage of height, and all who entered their field of fire were vulnerable. Despite this, the soldiers bravely continued the battle, fearing that the terrorists would try to abduct bodies or live soldiers, and stormed the area at great risk to themselves.

The battle was led by commanders, many of whom were hit. In the end, the battle was completed by the lower-ranking soldiers, who killed the terrorists, rescued their friends, and reported by radio that the battle was under control and that they were treating the wounded. Despite the heavy losses - eight soldiers killed - some 25 dead terrorists were counted, and the IDF forces displayed great heroism and determination.

Another Natan Elbaz
At one point during the above battle, Maj. Ro'i Klein - 31, father of two young sons, a resident of Eli in the Shomron - found himself and several of his soldiers cornered in a dead-end alley by Hizbullah terrorists, who threw a grenade at them. Klein made a quick decision, called out "Shma Yisrael" - "Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One" and jumped on the grenade, sacrificing his life in order to save the lives of of his soldiers. His widow said later she prays that her sons will grow up to be like their father.

Klein's act of self-sacrifice was reminiscent of that of Natan Elbaz, a Moroccan Jew who immigrated to Israel without his family in the early 1950's. While serving in the IDF in February 1954, he and a fellow soldier were disarming grenades when the safety cap of one was released. With four seconds left before the grenade would explode and cause a catastrophic explosion in the munitions-filled tent, Natan ran out with the grenade held close to his chest, jumped into a ditch - and, with his death, saved the lives of many others.

Maroun a-Ras
In capturing houses used by the terrorists, the IDF forces found much valuable weaponry, equipment and information. In particular, one home that had been quickly abandoned by Hizbullah turned up advanced observatory equipment, an editing room, maps of both IDF and Hizbullah forces, communications devices and more. Most important of all were anti-tank missiles that had hit Israeli tanks, as well as a Syrian bill of lading for equipment it had sent to Hizbullah. The last item, of course, is critical for Israel's intelligence and foreign relations efforts.

Nearby, an IDF force entered one of the nearby houses - and encountered a Hizbullah cell that had not run away. In the battle that ensued, one or two terrorists were killed, while others hid in inner rooms. A battalion officer - an immigrant from Ethiopia - led the way, and at one point he threw a grenade which bounced off a wall, set off an explosion, caused a door to slam shut - and the officer found himself , wounded, locked inside a room alone against the enemy. However, he continued fighting, and killed another terrorist. Finally, another force of the same battalion blew up an outer wall of the house, killed the other terrorists, and rescued the officer.

The Battle of Andoriya
One of the last battles before the ceasefire went into effect took place in Andoriya, a village from where many Katyushas were fired at Kiryat Shmonah, ten kilometers to the east. A large force of some 600 men, mostly of the Nachal Brigade, descended upon the village after a night-long trek while carrying heavy loads of equipment. They opened fire, but were greeted by a much heavier burst of enemy fire from several directions. One soldier was killed and 12 were wounded, but the force continued with determination, going house to house and yard to yard.

Dozens of rockets and shells were fired at them, by joint Hizbullah and Iranian forces, killing another soldier and wounding 8 more. Nevertheless, the Israelis continued to advance, led by their commanders, until they reached their target, recently abandoned by the terrorists. Hizbullah, well-entrenched in the area, had left rockets, launchers, shoulder-held missiles, and more.

Some of the soldiers ended the battle in a state of dehydration, brought on by a lack of water, difficult conditions before the battle, and the duration of the battle. None of this prevented them from advancing unyieldingly towards their target. The wounded were evacuated under heavy fire. In one case, a medic was wounded while treating a soldier, yet continued treating him until he himself fainted at the door of the helicopter that came to evacuate his patient.

(based on incidents collected by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner)