Glimpses of Israel - Yad Mordechai

by Joseph Hunting

Nearly thirty-seven years have run their course since those eventful days when the infant state of Israel was fighting for its very existence in 1948.

Five hostile nations that completely surrounded the unprotected borders simultaneously attacked only hours after Israel was reborn. Just as their ancestors emerged into nationhood from the fiery furnace of Egyptian bondage and servitude, even so the new-born state of Israel emerged from the fiery furnace of the Holocaust to be engulfed in a fight to the death on the very soil that had been saturated with Jewish blood centuries earlier by the Romans and Babylonians.

There are few places in Israel that don't have stories of sacrifice and bravery during the War of Independence. One such story concerns Yad Mordechai.

The kibbutz was born during the Mandate period prior to the rebirth of Israel. It was located on the coastal strip close to the Egyptian border. On May 19th, only five days after the nation was reborn, the Egyptians struck with a bombing raid, followed by an intense artillery barrage.

The next few days witnessed a heroic struggle by the men and women of kibbutz Mordechai against the well-equipped Egyptian army. Even so, the losses sustained by the Egyptians were terrible. By sheer weight of numbers and massive fire-power they finally broke through the kibbutz defences.

Exhausted, with twenty-three dead and forty wounded, they flashed a final desperate message to a Palmach unit defending a nearby position, "We are at the end of our strength. We have no more ammunition. Give us permission to release our surviving members."

And so Yad Mordechai fell, but its heroic stand against overwhelming odds held back the Egyptian army from sweeping on in its advance to Tel Aviv and enabled the Israelis to marshall their defences which ultimately resulted in victory.