The Harel Brigade

The Jerusalem-Ramallah-Latrun triangle threatened important Israeli targets. By conquering and controlling these areas, Israel would prevent an attack on these places and so prevent the passage of Jordanian reinforcement troops from the Jordan valley.

The Harel Brigade forces were located in the Hulda forest and Ya'ar Ben-Shemen area. The Brigade commander, Colonel Uri Ben Ari, was familiar with these territories from the days of the War of Independence. Originally, the Brigade's mission was to breach the Motza and Ma'ale Hachamisha area and the Tel Al-Ful area as fast as possible in order to neutralize any counterattack resistance from the Jordanian armored forces.

The armored forces that were allocated in the area were:

• Battalion 104, including a company of M-50 tanks from battalion 95 and an engineering platoon, were ordered to move toward Ma'ale Hachamisha and conquer the Haradar posts.

• Battalion 106, including a company of M-50 tanks and an engineering platoon, were ordered to arrive from Mevaseret Tzion and conquer the Sheik Abad El-Aziz post and Hirbat A-Luza and be prepared to move toward Bido.

• Battalion 95, with a company of tanks, an armored infantry company, a motorized heavy mortar battalion, and a field gun battalion, was ordered to stay put as a reserve.

However, the commands were different in the battle zone. The entire Brigade was sent to the Castel area. Their mission was to operate in the entire Jerusalem Corridor, that is, to conquer the Sheik Abad El-Aziz and Nebi Samuel posts and continue to Tel Al-Ful, the Mivtar Hill and from there connect with the forces on the Mount Scopus enclave. In fact, the Brigade commander, Uri Ben-Ari's decision was to relinquish the reserve and bring them into the battle, as well.

Battalion 95, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Zvi Dahav, who was supposed to be a reserve, was concentrating at that time on training and making sure they were adequately equipped. Since the Jordanian attack on Jerusalem had begun, the battalion received the command to move. Their mission was to reach Beit-Chanina.

Civilian traffic on the Ramla-Jerusalem axle caused a deceleration in the pace of the forces. When they entered the Ha'arazim Vally, at the foot of Mevaseret, the forces encountered a mountainous, rocky terrain that made their movement very difficult. Furthermore, they were forced to advance under artillery attack. The Israeli's answer to these attacks was 120 mm mortars which ultimately silenced the enemy.

Later on, due to the darkness, the tanks took the wrong route and got stuck. It was not for a few hours that they were released. The rest of the forces were forced to bypass the tanks and at around 02:00 the battalion commander arrived at Nebi Samuel. In the following hour, additional forces joined them and at 03:30 they began to move toward Beit-Chanina. They progressed raining heavy fire and, in this way, conquered the Chirbat A-Zahara area.

In Tel Al-Ful, Jordanian tanks were hidden between civilians' homes. For a while, an armored force against armored force battle was conducted in the range of 1,000 meters. Ultimately, three Jordanians tanks were hit and the rest retreated eastward- the Tel (hill) was conquered.

Here, the Brigade's first mission was completed.

Battalion 104 was to conquer the three Ha'radar posts. It was decided to begin with the "radar 1" post and from there move quickly to the "radar 2" post. Due to route difficulties, the soldiers who were in halftracks got out and began to move on foot whilst taking cover behind the tanks. Their tactic was to shoot cannons at the two posts. This worked and both the posts were conquered without significant resistance.

The "radar 3" post was conquered by Jerusalem Brigade forces covered by battalion 104.

In the early hours of the morning, the forces began to move toward Bido and at around midnight, a face to face battle began. The Israeli soldiers triumph this battle at around 04:00.

Battalion 106 was commanded to conquer Sheik Abad El-Aziz and Chirbat A-Luza. As soon as the battalion arrived at the Castel area it was hit with a massive shelling, in which a number of our soldiers fell. The decision was to quickly progress in the direction of the target. In spite of the minefields, which were in fact placed by Israeli forces in order to prevent Jordanian movement, and in spite of the face to face battle, at approximately 20:00, Sheik Abad El-Aziz was conquered. Fifteen Israeli soldiers fell in this battle, including the company commander, but the forces quickly organized themselves and set out to attack Chirbat A-Luza. Within half an hour the post was conquered! The battalion continued to progress to Tel Al-Ful to meet battalion 95.

The Harel Armored Brigade clave fortified posts and the many bunkers in them, although access to them was extremely difficult.

The Brigade continued to progress toward the "Mivtar Hill" and the "French Hill" posts.

Shuafat was fairly easy to conquer, as was the French Hill, but the Mivtar Hill required two attacks before its conquest.

The rest of the Harel Brigade's missions were conquering Atarot, Neve Ya'akov and Ramallah. They ultimately reached Jericho and Kibbutz Beit Ha'areva.