This article is part 2 of a four-part series on Israel’s Military Miracles.  For Part 1, click here.

Modern-Day Maccabees

The focus of family Chanukah celebrations tends to be on the miracle of the oil (hence, the eating of oily treats and the lighting of the Chanukah menorah). Yet it was the Maccabees’ miraculous defeat of the Greek-Assyrian army approximately 2,300 years ago and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple that paved the way for the miracle of the oil to occur, when a small flask of oil sufficient for one day only in fact lasted for eight days.

The victory of the Maccabees against the pressure of forced assimilation facilitated the restoration of Jewish religious and communal life.

The modern-day Maccabees continue to fight for the survival of the Jewish people against all odds and with the help of God. We present here a short series of miraculous events that occurred during the modern State of Israel’s major wars.

The Creation of the State of Israel

As the modern Zionist movement began to solidify and gather steam, Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel began in earnest. Beginning in the 1880s and peaking in the 1940s with the flight of Jews from Europe who had survived the Holocaust, Jews began to eye the Holy Land, the ancient Jewish homeland, as a place of refuge. Their plight, combined with the fact that there wasn’t a single country willing to accept any significant number of Jewish refugees, created a sense of urgency for the establishment of a Jewish state.

After World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe attempted to immigrate to Israel (then called Palestine), which was then British-mandated territory. The British, always wanting to avoid friction with the Arab world, refused to allow the Jewish refugees to settle in “Palestine.” The increasingly volatile and violent situation between Jews, Arabs and the British convinced the British to leave Palestine to the United Nations.

In 1947, the UN proposed the partition of Palestine into two states – one for the Jews and the other for the Arabs, with an internationally controlled area around Jerusalem. The Zionists, desperate to enable Jewish immigration, accepted the offer. The Arabs rejected it as they opposed any Jewish rule in Palestine.

Tensions piqued on November 29, following the UN General Assembly’s vote in favor of partition (dividing Palestine into two states), and Jewish communities throughout the Land of Israel found themselves under attack by local Arab gangs. On May 15, 1948,  Israel officially declared statehood. The very next day, the nascent Jewish state was invaded by the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

One Miracle Among Many

While stories abound of miracles that took place during Israel’s War of Independence, one story sticks out. It is referred to as the Battle of Netanyahu. (The definition of the Hebrew word netanyahu is “God has given.)

As soon as Israel declared independence on May 15, 1948, she found herself in an untenable situation. The new state was populated almost entirely by war refugees and possessed no means of protection. With no army and no weapons, she was a sitting duck. According to legend, the fledgling nation possessed approximately five machine guns with about fifteen rounds of ammunition and one tank.

Miraculous Ingenuity

As if to give Israel a false sense of hope, the surrounding Arab nations did not attack immediately. They planned a major offensive against Israel for the eighth day after declaration of statehood. However, the Israelis, understanding that their very lives were yet again on the line, came up with a plan that they hoped would at least buy them some time to prepare for war. On May 23, at midnight, they lined up cars, trucks, taxis, and anything they could find with an engine, side by side along the beaches from Tel Aviv through Netanya and Haifa. They then removed the exhaust pipes from the vehicles, making them sound much louder.

They then loaded large oil drums with rocks and took them to the top of the adjacent hill. When the time was right, early in the morning, the signal was given and the engines were started while the oil drums were rolled down the hill.

The unsuspecting Arab forces were suddenly awakened by the incredible noise, which completely shook the area. Since they had no idea from where the racket was coming, they could only guess – and they assumed that American forces had come to Israel’s rescue with Sherman Tanks.

The entire Arab army fled, leaving behind a treasure trove of artillery and thus arming the Israelis.

Author: Penina Taylor, United with Israel
(With files from NYJtimes)

Next in the Series: 1967 – The Six Day War


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