American officials went to great pains to explain the dignity with which they treated his body, so as not to offend Islamic sensibilities. How kind.Osama's "burial" brought to mind another Arab burial that I actually meant to write about on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial day for
The funny thing is that the information on the monument is a bit confusing. The soldier isn't unknown at all, and it isn't one soldier. It's the monument to four Egyptian soldiers – two colonels, a sergeant and a private. In addition, the monument says that they fell at the Battle of Faluja in June 1948.
Another confusion. The battle of Kibbutz Negba, not Faluja, took place in June 1948. One thousand Egyptian soldiers attacked the 140 Israelis (mostly teenage Holocaust survivors) of Negba. The Egyptians reached the kibbutz's inner fence, but the kibbutz members had no tanks or machine guns to repel them. Still, they fought bravely against the mighty Arab Army with their guns and Molotov cocktails, and B"H miraculously, destroyed six tanks and drove off the Egyptian forces.
Was this what the Memorial referred to as the Battle of Faluja?
Or perhaps they were referring to the battle at Ibdis in July 1948. The
Perhaps they meant a different battle that took place nearby in December 1948. The IDF tried to take control of the Egyptian stronghold (right between Kibbutz Negba and today's Kiryat Gat – formerly Faluja - on Route 35) Iraq-el-Manshiya. The stronghold had been a fortified British police station, which at their departure, the British turned over to the Egyptians (instead of the Jews of Negba). It was renamed the Iraq Suedan fortress, after a nearby Arab village. From here the Egyptians had launched their attacks against Kibbutz Negba and other Jewish towns.
The Israelis were unable to take the ex-British fortress, despite many bloody battles, and the Egyptians stayed in possession of the former British stronghold throughout the war. When the fortress finally fell, Yigal Alon met with the Egyptian's Brigadier General Said Taha Bey and offered an honorable surrender.
As part of the Peace Agreement with
The Faluja memorial reminded me of one more memorial to fallen soldiers.
Memorial (or None) to a Massacre
These memorials to fallen soldiers of 1948 led me to think of the Lamed Hei, the legendary 35!In January 63 years ago, 35 Palmach soldiers set out on foot in the middle of the night from the Bet Shemesh area to bring supplies to the beleaguered kibbutzim of pre-State Gush Etzion. The kibbutzim had been cut off by the Arab villages and Arab Legion forces. Convoys to Gush Etzion had been attacked; some convoys destroyed and their defenders killed. Airplane drops had failed. The Palmach march was the last hope to aid the isolated Jewish towns.
Unfortunately, the 35 (Lamed Hei) were seen at daybreak. They were attacked by Arabs of Tsurif and the surrounding towns, and after a brave struggle, the Jewish soldiers were all butchered and decapitated. Their body parts were left to rot. The British didn't retrieve the remains of the Lamed Hei until two days later, and then 12 out of the 35 were so unrecognizable the sainted Reb Aryeh Levin had to perform a kabbalistic ritual - a lottery attributed to the Vilna Gaon (goral haGra) - to identify them for burial. Four months later Gush Etzion fell to the Arab Legion, and on the very next day the State of Israel was born.
[Find out more about the Lamed Hei:
The heroic Lamed Hei were reburied on
So, I guess all this has set me to thinking of battle burials and war memorials. Al Qaeida's chief Osama Bin Laden was given a sanctified Islamic burial by the
The Egyptian soldiers of the battle of Faluja (whichever battle that was) were given a magnificent monument in the northern
Did the Arab Legion put up a memorial to the 35 Palmach soldiers after they butchered them? Is there a granite obelisk standing upon the Battle Hill of the Lamed Hei even today?
While it seems there has been great sensitivity paid to honorable burial for the enemies of
We must respect and demand respect for our civilians and our soldiers in death and in battle, but also in life.
We ourselves must honor and value our people's lives, and demand that others honor them as well. If we respected our people's lives, we wouldn't allow them to be kassamed or bombed or terrorized. We would do everything to stop i!
We must honor our own people at least as much as we honor the enemy, and care about the sensitivities of our own people at least as much as we care about the sensitivities of the enemy, protect the lives of innocent Jewish or Western civilians at least as much as we protect enemy civilians.
But that's another story.