(Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Israeli tank

After IDF forces were murdered on the Gaza border, a reservist-operated tank became the last line of defense, dealing a heavy blow to invading terrorists.

By Batya Jerenberg

A reserve Armored Corps soldier from a settlement in the South Hebron Hills is being hailed by comrades as a hero and compared to Avigdor Kahalani, the famed tank commander in the Yom Kippur War, after his unit held its ground alone against the enemy during the initial Hamas attack Saturday that kicked off the ongoing Operation Iron Swords.

Uri Maman told a part of his story to another soldier, who got it posted online Tuesday morning:

While waiting for a shower at a base in Israel on Monday, Bentzi said, he suddenly noticed a tall officer standing quietly in line, bent over, looking obviously tired. He asked the fellow when he was called up, and Maman told him that he and his fellow crewmembers were ordered to base Saturday morning, right after the invasion began.

When they arrived, not a soul was there to greet them or instruct them. They found their tank and searched for and packed all the necessary armaments and equipment by themselves, and then immediately hurried to the place where Hamas had blown through the security fence. They saw four breaches, and hundreds of Hamas terrorists pouring through on foot into Israel.

Maman and his crew started shooting at everything he saw, looking around for other Israeli forces and seeing none. He asked for help on the communications network, but no one answered him, he said. That’s when he understood that he was the only tank in the State of Israel that was defending the area.

He immediately called for his partner tank, also full of reservists, to get there as fast as they could, while continuing to shoot everything he had at the terrorists who kept coming through the breaks in the fence without pause.

A patrol force from the Nahal Brigade arrived to reinforce his position, but they were met with heavy fire that killed many of them, including the battalion commander. Maman instantly reacted, disposing of the Hamas fighters with fire of his own. He also called again for air support at the same time. Up to that point, not a single jet or helicopter had arrived to help stop the invasion, he said.

Finally, the communications net came alive and he began receiving orders to help clear the Jewish villages near the Gaza Strip that had been overrun by the terrorists. Maman took his tank on one mission after the next, going from one kibbutz to another, and then to the next, helping to eliminate the terrorists in what seemed to be an unending job.

“Today, Monday,” Bentzi ended, “our forces are starting to pour in and are getting rid of the unimaginable number of terrorists who invaded Israel. Uri Maman is ‘Kahalani 2’, a hero of Israel, a reservist father of four from the settlement of Negohot in the South Hebron Hills. I gave him a big hug and told him ‘thank you’ in the name of the whole nation.”

Avigdor Kahalani commanded a tank battalion on the Golan Heights in 1973 and managed to hold off a Syrian mechanized force of 1,200 tanks and 50,000 men with just his few tanks and some other elements of his armored brigade. He received Israel’s highest decoration, the Medal of Valor, for his actions.