The Alexandroni Brigade (Brigade 3, previously Brigade 820 and Brigade 609) is an IDF reserve brigade. The brigade started out an an infantry brigade that operated during the War of Independence and was assigned to the Haganah (named after the Alexander River). It was established on 1 December 1947 and its commander during most of the war was Dan Even (Epstein). After the declaration of the state, the Alexandroni Brigade became an IDF brigade.
Table of Contents
- 1 The War of Independence
- 1.1 The Tantura Affair
- 1.2 Battalions in 1948
- 2 After the War of Independence
- 2.1 The 1950s
- 2.2 The Six-Day War
- 2.3 The Yom Kippur War
- 2.4 The Lebanon War
- 2.5 The Second Lebanon War
- 3 Memorial Sites
- 4 Brigade Commanders
- 5 Further Reading
- 6 External Links
- 7 Footnotes
The War of Independence
The Alexandroni Brigade was one of the first four brigades in the Haganah. With its creation, it was set in the area between Carmel to the north and Gush Dan to the south. At the beginning of 1948, the brigade participated in Operation Nachshon to break the siege of Jerusalem. At the end of 1948, in Operation Chametz the brigade had conquered the Arab village of al-Hiriya, south of Bnei Brak, and then conquered Jaffa in cooperation with the Givati and Kiryati Brigades.
Shortly before the Declaration of Independence, it participated in Operation Medinah at the village of Saba (Kfar Saba in Arabic). In the battle to conquer the village on 13 May 1948, 29 soldiers from the brigade were killed at roadblocks near Nebi Yamin.
The brigade fought against the Iraqis on the Sharon Front. Its 32nd BN participated in Operation Ben-Nun A to take control of Latrun but it failed. Many of the soldiers of the 32nd BN were injured during this battle.
On 23 May 1948 in Operation Namil, the brigade conquered Tantura, which after the liberation of Haifa remained the only Arab base along the coast and through which ran a connection to Lebanon from which attacks were launched on the Haifa-Zichron Ya'acov road.
On 20 June 1948, while the ship Altalena was anchored in front of Kfar Vitkin, the Alexandroni Brigade received an order to top the ship from unloading, encircle the ship and confiscate its cargo. Unpon completing the encirclement, the Brigade commander, Dan Even, sent an ultimatum to Menachem Begin from the Ministry of Defense demanding that the ship and its contents be handed over to the army. Begin was required to give an answer within 10 minutes (so he could not hesitate). Begin did not want to accept the ultimatum and an exchange of fire began in which six Irgun and two IDF soldiers died. The battle was halted after talks between Begin's deputy, Ya'akov Meridor, and Dan Even, at the initiative of the Kfar Vitkin members, in which a cease-fire was established with an agreement that the weapons unloaded on the shore were to be transferred to the IDF.
In Operation Dani which was held in July 1948, the brigade conquered the villages in the area of present Rosh Ha'Ayin: Renate, Wilhelma, El-Yehudiya, Tira and Kula, but failed to conquer Tul Karm. On 15 July, the village of Kula was captured by the 1st BN of the Arab Legon in a battle that saw many casualties among the Alexandroni Brigade's forces. Later, the village was reoccupied by an Israeli force and then again by the Legion finally being captured by Israeli forces on 18 July. During that same month, the brigade participated in a police operation to contol the "Little Triangle" on the way to Haifa.
With the establishment of a headquarters at the front that served as the brigade command center, Gen Dan Even, the brigade commander along with a large number of staff officers, became the Commander of District B ) the Central District).
After November 1948, the brigade was on the southern front besieging Faluja. The brigade suffered heavy losses in the battle for Iraq al-Manshiyya as part of Operation Liquidation (Chi'sul). Toward the end of the war, the brigade participated in Operation Stabilization that was part of Operation Ovda, conquering Ein Gedi, Masada and the Mt Hebron area.
At the end of July 1949, with the ending of the War of Independence, the order was given to disband the brigade which was done soon after. Since then, the brigade was re-established as a regional brigade that served in the Northern Command as a reserve infantry brigade. In the 2000s, this reserve brigade was given the name Alexandroni.
The Tantura Affair
In the 1990s, Teddy Katz, a master's degree student in history at the University of Haifa, wrote a thesis entitled "The Arabs Left the Villages at the Foot of Southern Carmel in 1948." In the work, katz claimed, based on oral interviews with veterans, that soldiers of the Alexandroni Brigade massacred the residents of Tantura, killing some 200 unarmed men. He was sued for defamation by the veterans of the brigade. In a compromise agreement, it was determined that the case would be dropped and that Katz would withdraw the accusation and issue an apology. Haifa University reexamined the work, which had originally been assigned a grade of 97, and decided to disqualify it.
Battalions in 1948
|Battalion Number||Composition||Date Established||Main Activity||Battalion and Company HQ||Commanders and Other Key Figures|
|31||HI"SH veterans from the Samaria and Hefer districts||December 1947||Transportation security on roads in the region: Netanya, Hadera, Ramat, Hashofet and Ein Shemer. Sweeps of the Ein Shemer Airport and Karkur Police Station, the conquest of Arab Kfar Saba||Haderat, Shlomo, HaMa'apil||Shmuel Admon (Rappaport), Ya'akov Noor Sela (Lichtenstein)|
|32||HI"SH companies from the Sharon and Petach Tikva settlements||December 1947||Secure the traffic on the Sharon Highway from Petach Tikva to Ramat Hakovesh. Seize and secure pumping facilities at Rosh Ha'Ayin and the quarries at Migdal Tzedek. Capture the Beit Lid camp, Tel Litvinsky (Tel Hashomer) and participate in Operation Chametz. May 1948 attached to 7th Brigade to participate in Operation Ben-Nun A to take Latrun (which failed)||Galil Yam, Kfar Yavetz, Kfar Yona, Kfar Hess, Kfar Saba||Zvi German|
|33||HI"SH from Gush Dan (concentrated in Ramat Efal) and GADN"A companies from Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Bnei Brak||December 1947||Secure settlements east of Gush Dan. Had a platoon in Har Tuv. Held Tel Litvinsky while participating in Operation Nachshon, Operation Hametz, Operation Medina (the conquest of Arab Kfar Saba), Tantura, Kakun, Operation Sho'ter and Operation Hisol||Borochov, Givatayim, Kfar Sirkin, Majdal yaba, Ramat Gan and 9 Har-Tov||Ben Zion Friedman (Ziv)|
|34||Staff from the Alexandroni training camp, which trained recruits and commanders||May 1948||Brigade Support Battalion (including a reconnaissance company, a jeep company, and an armored vehicle company)||the Rambam Neighborhood, Givatayim|
|37||IRGU"N members||June 1948||Dora Camp in Netanya||Samuel "Mike" Amiti|
After the War of Indepndence
In January 1950, the brigade was reformed as the 3rd Reserve Brigade. It was stationed on the Syrian front where it took part in the battle of Tel Mutila.
The Six-Day War
In 1965, the brigade became a regional brigade along the border with Syria and Lebanon.
During the Six-Day War, the brigade was commanded by Col Emanuel Shaked and had four infantry battalions -
- 32nd BN, under the command of Col Moshe Ben Dror
- 33rd BN under the command of Lt Col Yitzhak Halfon
- 34th BN under the command of Lt Col Simcha Assaf
- 92nd BN under the command of Maj Ran Bar Giora
- HAYA"M battalion - 920th BN under the command of Lt Col Arik Nehamkin
- PALSA"R 78 (reconnaissnace company) under the command of Maj Ezra Orion
- FALACHA"N 858 (Engineering Corps company) under the command of Lt Amnon Erez
- PACHA"CH 493 (Medical Corps company) under the command of Maj Shmuel Mansur
- PALCHI"K 356 (communications company) under the command of Lt Giora Shani
- GANA"T 90mm anti-tank artillery battalion dragged by tractors
- CHMA"TZ 446 (military police ) under the command of Lt Avner Maks
- GAMA"K 337 (heavy mortar battlion) under the command of Lt Col Ya'akov Divon
The brigade was activated during 18-19 May 1967, and began to dig and lay mines with the help of 602nd BN (NB: an engineering unit) which had been attacked to the brigae. On 2 June in an encounter with a Syrian force, two soldiers from the PALSA"R unit were killed. On 3 June, a Syrian force trying to cross the Jordan was attacked by 32nd BN and fired on by artillery.
On 9 June, the brigade became part of the assault on the Golan Heights. The main effort was planned for the northern sector through Givat Ham (above Kfar Szold) but David Elazar ordered feint attacks in other aras to prevent the Syrians from identifying the main effort. On the morning of 9 June, the brigade commander, Emanuel Shaked, ordered the 33rd BN, which was not at the front, to occupy the pisitions of Deirdre and Tel Hilal. Later, the brigade moved on the Golan Heights:
- Force A - 33rd BN commanded by Lt Col Yitzhak Halfon, crossed the border first and attacked Deirdre and Tel Hilal, then assisted in the capture of the Golbina outposts during the battles losing 22 soldiers, including the commander Yitzhak Halfon.
- Force B - 32nd BN commanded by Moshe Ben Dror (Morris) crossed the Bnot Ya'akov Bridge, marched up the road to the upper customs house and reached the Elica camps.
- Force C - 92nd BN commanded by Ran Bar Giora crossed the Jordan river in the Almagor area taking control of the estuary outposts, the Beck house, located near the village outposts and the cemetary.
- Force D - 34th BN commanded by Simcha Assaf defended the region of Dan, the estuary, Shear Yashuv, Kfar Szold and Gonen to fend off Syrian attacks. Later he seized the area of Nohila taking control of the village of Rajar.
- Force E - The PALSA"R under the command of Ezra Orion burst through Drechia to capture Ein Tina, fought in Doryjat, Murtape and then south along the Jordan river to Hill 62. Later, he joined Force B under the command of Morris and continued on to the "Elica" camps.
After the war it became the 820th Brigade, taking responsibility for the Golan Heights with its base at the Yitzhak Camp ("Nafach") in honor of Halfon.
The Yom Kippur War
The brigade under the command of Col Zvi Bar was activated on Saturday, 6 October, with the outbreak of the war. The brigade's battalions helped defend the Jordan bridges and fought terrorists on Mount Dov. The brigade's reserve battalions and the mortar battalion were deployed on the Lebanese border, while the commando unit took part in the fighting on the Golan Heights. Later, the brigade fought the War of Attrition in the Syrian Enclave.
The Lebanon War
After the war, the brigade became an infantry brigade and was renamed the 609th Brigade. The unit was manned by veterans of the Golani Brigade. During the First Lebanon War, the brigade's forces fought in the central sector.
The Second Lebanon War
During the Second Lebanon War the brigade was commanded by Col Shlomi Cohen. Battalion 7012, commanded by Lt Col Roni Ben Haim, fought continuously for fifteen days in the villages of Rajmin, Shekhin and Jibin. During the fighting, the battalion killed dozens of terrorists, including three Hezbollah fighters, destroying many weapons. In a short time, the battalion also captured the junction between the two villages of Rajmin and Shekhin, a key area that decided the course of the battle. The battalion also provided humanitarian aid to several dozen Lebanese civilians that included medical assistance. In September of 2007, the GOC Northern Command, Gadi Eizenkot, gave the brigade an award for "demonstrating dedication to the mission and striving for victory, responsibility, personal example, discipline and professionalism." After the war, the media reported complaints by some soldiers in the unit about lack of orders, irrelevant training, lack of equipment and claims by the commanders about the motivation of the soldiers. Some of the soldiers talked about the lack of supplies, lack of preparation, inadequate equ9pment, inadequate intelligence and that the purpose of the operation was not clear.
Battalion 8101 continued on through the villages of Rajmin and Shekhin, hwere battalion 7012 was located, to the Ras al-Baida area to the west. There the battalion encountered a group of terrorists on their way to the village with several soldiers injured in the ensuing firefight. The battalion spent two weeks in the area before being replaced two days after the cease-fire came into force for the paratroopers. They then made their way back to the border on a march that lasted less than one night.
- Netanya - Ein Ya'akov near the Dora neighborhood. The brigade's largest and most central memorial site, it commemorates the names of the 449 brigade soldiers who were killed in fighting. For many years at this site there have been annual memorial days that include a reunion of the soldeirs and their families. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav. The artwork and metal casting was done by the artist, Saul Baskin, an officer in 33rd BN and also in Unit 37.
- Ein Ayala - the small triangle, Operation Policeman, to open the coastal road in the area between Zichron Ya'acov and Haifa. A shell was fired from a mortar which was damaged. It fell in Company D of 35th BN killing nine soldiers. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav. It was created and funded by the Alexandroni Brigade.
- Tantura - served as a port to smuggle arms, ammunition and Arab fighters into the area. The elders of Zichron Ya'akov, who knew the mukhtar in the village tried to prevent the battle and convince the residents to surrender. But a group of Muslim fighters, Arab shepherds who came to the village recruited them into the war forcing the continuation of the struggle while led to the difficult battle "Operation Port", with the death of 13 soldiers from the brigade and one from the navy. The monument was designed by the writer, Abraham Isaac Triwaks, father of Benjamin Triwaks who was killed in the battle. The design was executed by the architect, Asher Hiram of the Unit for the Commemoration of the Soldier. It was built with money donated by the bereaved families and was renovated by the architect Yehuda Yahav.
- Kakun - Emek Hefer - a large Arab village that dominated the geography of the area making it impossible for the inhabitants of Kibbutz Ma'apil and Ein Hahoresh to live a normal life due to the shooting and shelling. During the occupation, the brigade's troops fought with armored forces from the Iraqi army. Here the brigade lost 16 soldiers. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav.
- Arab Kfar Saba - the outskirts of Kfar Saba - on the eve of the declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel. Twenty-eight soldiers were killed in the Arab village of Kfar Saba. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav. It was build with a donation from the estate of Maj (R) Yizhar-Eilat Kardosh by Margherita Waldislav Kardosh in his memory.
- Tel Litvinsky - Tel Hashomer - A huge British Army base which the British wanted to transfer to the Arabs after they had evacuated it. The battle occured close to the date of the Passover holiday, with the start of Operation Chametz and expanded to occupy Hiriya, Sakia and Salameh. Eight soldiers were killed in this battle. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav. It was the product of the initiative and participation of the Alexandroni Brigade and the Municipality of Ramat Gan.
- Rosh Ha'Ayin (Antipater) - Afek National Park at the entrance to Rosh Ha'Ayin. In the combined Operation Dani and Operation Vatek, Rosh Ha'Ayin and Migdal Tzedek were conquered. Units of 32nd BN, reinforced with Company B and Company C from the 145th BN, fought against the Iraqi army. Thirty-six soldiers were killed in the battles. The impetus, planning and financing of the monument came from the Haganah organization in Petah Tikva.
- Kola - Givat Kach (Hill 28) near Beit Aryeh. 33rd BN of the brigade captured the high ground that dominated the area and was later replaced by the 32nd BN. Due to the difficult ground condition, the force could not properly dig in and was attacked by an armored force from the Jordanian Legion. In this brutal battle, the brigade lost 31 soldiers. (Records indicate the loss of 32 but there are only 31 names on the monument.) Financing for the monument came from the parents of the fallen. The monument was renovated and renewed by the architect Yehuda Yahav.
- Latrun - The battle of Latrun during Operation Ben-Nun A was hard fought and unsuccessful, and one of the reasons for the failure of the attack was the fact they were delayed in launching the assault, beginning the battle in broad daylight and not in the dark of night. The 32nd BN participated and lost 54 of its soldiers. The monument was designed by the architect Yehuda Yahav. The panels were designed by the artist Saul Bakin, who was a combat soldier in the brigade. The monument was proposed and funded by the Alexandroni Brigade with the active support and funding from the Jewish National Fund.
- Kiryat Gat - Irak al Manshiya - In a long and difficult battle against the Egyptian Brigade under the command of Sayid Taha Bey and Abdul Nasser who served as its operation officer in this battle, 87 members of the "Religious Company" (NB: Ha'Plugah ha'dtat) - CO. C, 33rd BN. - and other Alexandroni Brigade soldiers. Planned and supervised by the artist Saul Baskin, an officer in 33rd BN and officer in Unit 37. Landscape architect was Meir Peleg.
- Mitzpeh Gadot - served as a Syrian outpost called "Murthafa" and for years had threatened Gadot. It was conquered by the brigade without a battle during the Six-Day War. A monument and memorials were erected at the site to honor the brigade's fallen from the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War and (Operation) Peace for the Galilee.
|Lt Col Dan Even||1947-1948||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Lt Col Zvi German||1948||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Lt Col Ben Zion Friedan||1948-1949||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Lt Col Binyamin Tzur||1949-1950||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Lt Col Yosef El-Naham||1950-1951||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Lt Col Dov Yirmiya||1951-1952||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Col Yechezkel Pante||1952-1955||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Col Nachum Golan||1955-1964||Brigae 3 Commander, later commander of the Golani Brigade|
|Col Uri Baidatz||1964-1967||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Col Emanuel Shaked||1967-1968||Brigade 3 Commander during Six-Day War, later chief Infantry and Paratrooper officer|
|Col Ya'akov Stern||1968-1970||Brigade 3 Commander also Brigade 820, later head of Northern Command HQ|
|Col Ephraim Hiram||1970-1971||Brigade 820 Commander, later commander of Galilee Div|
|Col Tzur Sagi||1971-1973||Brigade 820 Commander|
|Col Tzvi Bar||1973||Brigade 820 Commander during Yom Kippur War, later commander of Border Police and Mayor of Ramat Gan|
|Col Uri Simhoni||1973-1974||Brigade 820 Commander, later head of the Training Dept.|
|Col Menachem Einan||1974-1975||Brigade 820 Commander, later head of AG"A|
|Col Asher Dar||1975-1977||Brigade 820 Commander|
|Col Pinchas Kuperman||1977||Brigade 820 Commander, also served as Deputy Brigade Commander|
|Col Giora Inbar||1977-1978||Brigade 820 Commander, later commander of Etgar Formation|
|Col Oded Nir||1978-1980||Brigade 820 Commander|
|Col Hogai Levy||1980-1983||Brigade 609 Commander, later head of Central Command HQ|
|Col Yitzhak Baram||1983-1984||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Effi Eitam||1984-1987||Brigade 609 Commander, later commander of the Galilee Div|
|Col Giora Inbar||1987-1990||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Razi Yahel||1990-1992||Brigade 609 Commander, later Head of Northern Command HQ|
|Col Aharon Ziv||1992-1995||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Tsafir Ben-Ze'ev||1995-2000||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Yariv Krieger||2000-2004||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Shlomi Cohen||2004-2006||Brigade 609 Commander|
|Col Asher Ben-Lulu||2006-2007||Brigade 3 Commander, commander of Northern Command|
|Col Oren Avman||2007-2009||Brigade 3 Commander, later commander of the Idan Formation|
|Col Resan Alian||2009-2011||Brigade 3 Commander, later Chief Infantry and Paratroopers Officer|
|Col David Zinni||2011-2014||Brigade 3 Commander, later commander of the Idan Formation|
|Col Yoav Yoram||2014-2017||Brigade 3 Commander|
|Col Hezi Nechama||August 2017-||Brigade 3 Commander|
Ram Oren, Latrun, Keshet Publishing, 2002. Elyashiv Shimshi, "Another victory like this ... about the spirit of fighting in the Second Lebanon War," Modan and the Ministry of Defense Publishing, 2013. Gal Hirsch, War Story Love Story, Tel Aviv: Yedioth Ahronoth, 2009, ISBN 9789654828109.