Yad Mordechai Battlefield

For more photos see:  Yad Mordechai

Kibbutz Yad Mordechai was established in 1943 and named after Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. The first settlers of the kibbutz were from Poland who settled there before the Second World War. At the southern end of the kibbutz is the site of the battle that took place between the members of the kibbutz and the Egyptian army in 1948. With the declaration of the state of Israel on 15 May 1948, the Egyptian army started to march northward toward Israel, planning to reach Tel Aviv within a few days. From the border all the area along the coastal road to the outskirts of Tel Aviv was populated by Arab towns and villages, with only four young kibbutzim among them. Of these kibbutzim only Yad Mordechai lay directly on the road.

On the morning of 18 May the Egyptian forces approached Yad Mordechai. The kibbutz had been busy during the winter fortifying themselves against an enemy attack. At that time they only had ten tankers. On the eve of the battle they managed to evacuate the children, leaving a manpower consisting of 130 members, men and women and 20 members of the Palmach. They had approximately 55 lead weapons and a middle sized bombing machine gun – that was all their heavy equipment. They also barricaded the road by cutting down eucalyptus trees across it. The attacking Egyptian force was an infantry brigade of approximately 2,500 soldiers, with cannons, tanks and armed trucks with mounted cannons and two airplanes.

In the early morning of 19 May the kibbutz came under an aerial attack and in a few hours the kibbutz was in flames. It was decided not fire at the armoured cars, but to save their ammunition for the infantry which were ascending to the final battleground on the hill at the south end of the kibbutz. Until evening the Egyptians tried in vain to capture the hill – most of the Egyptian soldiers were killed or wounded near the boundary fence. At night the kibbutzniks climbed the hill and pillaged the Egyptian weapons which was a great boost to their modest arms supply. During the next four days, the attacks continued, but again in vain. By this time the kibbutz dead numbered fifteen, with twenty wounded.

On 23 May the fifth day of the battle, the Egyptians employed new tactics. They pushed forward in tanks and armed cars followed by infantry. Finally they succeeded in entering the kibbutz, capturing guard post number one after killing all its members. The counter-attack suffered heavy damage and could advance no further. After much bitter fighting, the post was re-taken and the Egyptians forced out of the kibbutz. But the kibbutz manpower and arms had seriously diminished, with casualties of 23 dead, 35 wounded and left with neither ammunition or grenades. They called for aid, but none was available, so the wounded were evacuated and they decided to retreat.

Retreating was no less dangerous than fighting as they had to pass close to the Egyptian lines, under very heavy fire. By dawn most had reached Li-On, loosing only a man and a woman who were carrying a wounded Palmach member. Thus the six days of Yad Mordechai drew to an end with this complete withdrawal, but six days that prevented the Egyptians advancing to Tel Aviv. The Egyptians lost some 300 soldiers here and their spirit was greatly weakened. These six days were enough for the young state to prepare barricades and defence lines, to collect arms and to restrain the strength of the invader in the north.

The Egyptians stayed in Yad Mordechai for approximately five and a half months and destroyed everything. On 5 November 1948 Yad Mordechai was liberated, and on the same day the kibbutzniks returned and started to re-build our kibbutz. Until the Six Day War of 1967 Yad Mordechai was an important defence post on the border of the Gaza strip. After the great victory of the Israel army in that war, Yad Mordechai ceased to be a border settlement.

Today visitors to the kibbutz may view a reconstruction of the actual battlefield complete with authentic trenches and weapons, (see photo album – Yad Mordechai) along with an excellent museum on the history of the kibbutz, this infamous battle & the history of the weapons deployed by the Israelis in those early years.

Against great odds as these, the nation of Israel was established, it is a remarkable miracle of our times. In Joel 3:1-2 we read For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah (1948 War of Independence) and Jerusalem (1967 Six Day War), I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

The time of the end when all nations will come down to Jerusalem for the battle of Armageddon (a heap of sheaves in a valley for judgment), described in Joel 3 as the valley of Jehoshaphat (judgement), as the valley of decision where the harvest is ripe, will first see the restoration of Judah and then the city of Jerusalem back in the hands of the Jews. An awful time of warfare will take place but the end result is the Kingdom of God re-established upon this earth:

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more…But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation Joel 3:16-17, 20.