Operation Yoav opened the way to the Negev (southern Israel) which had been blocked by the invading Egyptian army.
This is the story of the capture of Beersheba in Operation Yoav, a first person account by David Teperson of the Palmach
The story of my Jeep Company in the capture
We started at
night and arrived at Kibbutz Hatzerim that same night before attacking. One of our jeeps, traveling without lights,
landed on an Egyptian mine. Three of our soldiers were wounded. Two were overseas volunteers (Machal). One was my
Belgian friend, Eskimo. Here is his story of the incident:
driver was Ifrah Lezerovitch, and the front gunner was Amos Galoy. They were hit worse then I was. Amos spent 5 months
in hospital, and was in pretty bad shape when
I saw him. Ifrah spent 3 months in hospital. Neither one ever
went back to our unit. Amos told me that on the eve of the Beersheba operation on October 19th, 1948, we were
sent on a mission to retrieve one of our men who operated in Beersheba, and bring him
back. We left from Hatzerim, I was told, and hit 2 anti-tank
mines. I don't remember any of it. Migdal told me that he came and picked us up. Next thing I know, I woke up in a
hospital in Tel Aviv. I stayed there for about a month, and was on rehab for 2 more. I came down one time to visit the
Jeep Company in Beersheba. I think that they had my jeep at the entrance of town, as a reminder of why one should stay
away from mines!”
Hatzerim was fortified with trenches a couple of kilometers to the west of Beersheba. My friend Eskimo who fought in the
Belgian paratroopers with the Allied forces in WWII landed on his head, suffered concussion and I don’t know what else.
He was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he stayed for quite some time. The rest of the company with one of the
South African volunteers, Reuben, (his ex-wife was a nurse there) went to Kibbutz Hatzerim, where we rested.
morning we attacked Beersheba and our
jeep company swung around the south side of Beersheba, cutting off the retreating Egyptian army. One platoon captured
four hidden artillery pieces in the field nearby – 25 inch artillery guns. Many civilians were running away, cursing
King Farouk, and telling us how wonderful we were! We entered Beersheba from the south side. The French Commando and
some of the 7th battalion had already captured the police station and the city of Beersheba, capturing some
Egyptian prisoners of war. I took a 38 Enfield revolver from one of the Egyptians that became my back-up which I always
kept strapped to my waist. I soon realized that if we landed on a mine and I was thrown out, or if my vehicle was
ablaze, there wouldn’t be enough time to take my rifle with me. In all the wars since, I’ve always carried a revolver
strapped to me as a back-up. In two of the wars the revolver helped me when my Uzi jammed. I taught both my sons to
always keep revolvers as back-up, which they did in both the Yom-Kippur and the 1st Lebanon Wars.
capture of Beersheba there were rumors that the Egyptians might counter-attack. The jeep company was sent south to Bir
Asluj to scout out the area and to see if the Egyptians were moving. One of the infantry battalions took up their post
at Bir Asluj. We went back to Beersheba which became our main base of operation and our home, from the 20th
October till January 1949.
Ronny Cheskelson, South
African Machal, capture of Beersheba
Israel, firing a captured 0.5 anti-tank rifle and Aryeh Englbrech, English Machal, after the capture of Beersheba
jeep platoon was given an Arab house with a couple of rooms where we ate and slept. There were always one or two
platoons on various missions. Normally when we went on these missions, we went with 4 jeeps. Sometimes these 4 jeeps
were accompanied by an intelligence group. We’d sleep out for three to five days before returning to our base in
Beersheba. When we
settled down, I took one day off from patrol and built a shower with a fuel oil dripper to heat water for the platoon.
As I had learned plumbing at the agricultural school this was no problem for me. I always say this was the first shower
built in Beersheba with hot water. I was also the chief slaughterer (shohet). If we’d got hold of a goat I would
slaughter it, cut the meat up and make dried meat (biltong). This was also part of my education in Africa.
beginning, I was a jeep driver and treated my jeep like my horse, cleaning it, fixing it, keeping it in top shape. We
all looked upon our jeeps as a knight in the early days would look upon his horse. I didn’t like anyone else to drive my
jeep. One day, my corporal Yehuda wanted to go and visit someone at a Kibbutz (I think), and took the jeep without me
knowing. He managed to turn it over on the main road towards Gaza. I was mad like hell at him, and it took some time to
get my loveable jeep back in order. Afterwards, the drivers would change around, and sometimes I would be a back-gunner
or a jeep driver. There was another case when I was sitting as a back-gunner and my friend Eitan was driving. Yehuda, my
corporal, had got off to direct him, and Eitan overturned the jeep by sliding off the road, on its side. I was at the
back, and all the ammunition landed on me. They picked me up and I was alright. We loved our jeeps and treated them
After the capture of Beersheba, with a captured anti-tank gun (6-pounder), entering Beersheba from the south
"Negev Beasts" (Hayot Hanegev) was the original and informal name of the 9th battalion Jeep company
motorized commando of the Palmach Negev Brigade (Hativat Hanegev), a unique military force that played a key role in liberating the Negev in the
Israel War of Independencee.
Eyes of the Beholder relates some of the exploits of this little jeep unit, composed of Machal (overseas) volunteers from all
over the world, as well as young Israeli Palmachniks like Avraham Adan (Bren), later General Bren, Mordechai (Motta) Gur
and Haim Bar Lev. These are the men who conquered Beersheva and who raised the famous ink flag in Eilat. The book
includes priceless photos and maps. It is a valuable first person account of what really happened, as well as a memorial
to the Machal volunteers and Israeli soldiers who fought to defend Israel in 1948.
Colonel David (Migdal) Teperson, author of Eyes of the Beholder, grew up in the South African veldt, lived in
the Kalahari desert, and learned the ways of the wild from age 13. His learned survival skills were aided by his 6' 6"
frame and restless iron-clad constitution. He volunteered to defend the new state of Israel, serving first in the
Alexandroni Brigade and later in the Negev Beasts in 1948, and fighting in every war of Israel. These excerpts from the book are presented to honor the Machal
volunteers and others who served in the Israel war of Independence and to give a close-up look at the history of that
war and at the young men and women who made the state of Israel possible. The patch at right is the symbol of the
Motorized Commando Unit.
Eyes of the Beholder is
copyright © by David Teperson, 2008. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, without permission. Material appearing in these Web pages is reproduced by permission. To
obtain printed copies of the entire book, contact Colonel David Teperson, P.O. BOX 9590, KFAR SHMARYAHU ISRAEL. 46910
TEL: 972-9-9582718 FAX: 972-9-9560673 E-MAIL: DAVE_TEP(at)NETVISION.NET.IL
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