Kiryati Brigade

The Kiryati Brigade (4th Brigade) is a reserve armored brigade under the command of the 319th Armored Division, a reserve division in the Northern Command. In the past it was the Hagash Brigade of the Haganah and later a regular brigade in the IDF.

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The Kiryati Brigade in the War of Independence


The unit was first established in Tel Aviv in February 1948 from HISH (חי״ש) companies after the Givati Brigade, which included the best of the HISH battalions from the Tel Aviv area that had been sent from the city to the south. The brigade consisted of three infantry battalions drawn from secular and religious GADNA (גדנ״ע) graduates and from the CHAYAM (חי״ם) Battalion (Guard Corps). The area assigned to the brigade was the urban area of Tel Aviv from the Yarkon River in the north to Bat Yam in the south and to Yazur to the east. Within these brigade boundaries was the winding urban border between Tel Aviv and Jaffa and the villages of Salameh (Kfar Shalem) and Abu Kabir. The brigade secured the roads from Holon and Mikve Israel to the city and the beginning of the road to Jerusalem that passed through the Arab villages of Yuzur and Beit Dagan (Beit Dgan). In the north of its sector, the brigade placed forces in Sde Dov.

Operation Chametz

The brigade cooperated with the Alexandroni Brigade, the Givati Brigade and the PALMACH in Operation Chametz to conquer the area around Jaffa. Their success was assisted by the soldier's familiarity with the area, as residents. On 13 May 1948 the brigade commander, Michael ("James") Ben-Gal, accepted the letter of surrender from the Arabs of Jaffa. After the occupation of Jaffa to secure Tel Aviv and its immediate surroundings, the brigade was deployed to the east to Gush Dan near Tzrifin-Yevadea(?) line. (צריפין - יהודײה)

On 11 June 1948 (4 Sivan 5708) 12 memebers of the 42nd BN fell in battle on the outskirts of Lod. Their names are inscribed on the 42nd BN monument in Tzrifin and in the Haganah garden in Ramle.

The Altalena Affair

Despite their cooperation with Irgun (NB: ETZEL) in Tel Aviv and in the fighting in Nablus during Operationa Chametz, the brigade's next assignment on 22 June 1948 was to secure the Tel Aviv coast during the confrontation with the Irgun's weapons ship, the Altalena, a task which the brigade refused to carry out.[1] In his book "The Book of Service", Yitzhak Rabin writes (p.567):

"...We were preparing to prevent the Irgun from unloading the weapons on the ship and to thwart any attempt to capture the PALMACH headquarters ... the members of the Kiryati Brigade, who were ordered to move against the Irgun chose instead to abandon their weapons, rifles and machine guns and leave. They could not meet the difficult and vital need to prevent the actions of the Irgun."

Actions During The Truces

During the First Truce, the birgade's soldiers were sworn in to the IDF and later took part in Operation Dani and conquered the Arab village of Slavit (on which Sha'alvim was founded). At the beginning of the Second Truce, Ben-Gurion decided to carry out Operation Betzer to capture deserters and draft evaders from military service that were in Tel Aviv, The operation was assigned to the Kiryati Brigade.

Outpost 219

On 15 July 1948 the 142nd BN ( battalion of HAMISHMAR-HEMA BN) המשמר״ - הי״מ was made part of the brigade. Only five days after this, an order was received from the brigade headquarters to gain control of Outpost 219. On 24 September 1948 there was an attack by the Arab Legion and other rural forces that came from that area and the outpost was attacked by the enemy. It was only towards noon after requests for aid from the forces at the outpost that companies from 44th BN and another force from 42nd BN, also from the Kiryati Brigade, arrived and not until about 2:30 PM that they were able to regain control of the outpost. Company A of the battalion lost 23 of its soldiers and the bodies of the fallen had been disfigured. There were also two missing in action (still unaccounted for).

The number of those serving in the brigade on the eve of the founding of the state was 2,504.[2] With the establishment of the IDF, the Kiryati became the 4th Brigade.

The Kiryati Battalions

NumberNameTypeEstabActivityCmdrs and Key Figures
42members of the Tel Aviv HISH not recruited into GivatiDec 1947 reorg in Feb 1948The battalion suffered until the end of the war because it was a low priority and suffered from shortages. Participated in Operation Dani in holding Ramla.Shmaya Beckenstein-Bareket
43HaParvarim/The Suburbsveteran companies of HISH suburbsDec 1947 reorg in Feb 1948Protected southern Tel Aviv, occupied Sheikh Munis (no battle)Amos Ben-Gurion, Aryeh Simon, Yehuda Stupansky-Tamir[3]
44Tel Aviv HISH and recruitsDec 1947 reorg in Feb 1948Defended eastern part of Tel Aviv (occupied Yazur), Operation Dani, Outpost 219 and Jerusalem corridorMoshe Weiman

After the War of Independence

Operation Kadesh

During the Sinai Campaign the brigade was commanded by Col. Yosef Harpaz and included three infantry battalions: the 42nd BN under the command of Maj. Yitzhak Tamir, the 43rd BN under the command of Maj. Uriel Elitzur, and 127th BN under the command of Maj Nachman Nir, the brigade PLASAR under the command of Capt Tzvi Ben Tzur, GMACH (heavy mortar BN) 341 under the command of Maj M. Granot and anti-tank 841. The brigade operated as part of 38th Division commanded by Col. Yehuda Walach fighting in the central sector of the Sinai Peninsula.

The Six-Day War

During the Six-Day War the brigade was commanded by Col Moshe Yotvat and included three infantry battalions - the 42nd, the 43rd and the 127th, three HAYAM battalions - the 940th, the 952nd and the 960th, and a recon-patrol company (PLASAR 47). The brigade operated as a regional brigade in the Jordanian sector with the infantry battalions scattered in various positions in the Shfela area. When the fighting broke out, the brigade was given command of two infantry companies on half-tracks, a company of AMX-13 tanks from 19th BN of the 60th Brigade, and a command patrol unit - the Haruv recon unit under the command of Maj Tsimel reinforced with AFVs from the Duchifat patrol and a cadre of cadets from Training Base 1, and was later joined by Paratroop BN 98 under the command of Lt Col Elisha Shalem of the 80th Brigade and its two organic battalions assembled from the outposts. The brigade occupied the Latrun area, the Beit Horon area and the Gofna Mountains, to reach the outskirts of Ramallah. During the fighting the Brigade Commander, Moshe Yotvat, was wounded and Yosef Harpaz assumed command.

The Yom Kippur War

In 1972 the unit was converted to a mechanized infantry brigade. During the Yom Kippur War it was commanded by Col Ya'akov Hadar and included two mechanized infantry battalions - the 42nd BN under the command of Lt Col Gadi Gil, the 127th BN under Lt Col Mordechai Eilat and a battalion of Sherman tanks - 95th BN led by Lt Col Ya'akov Neufeld who was injured and replaced by Lt Col Moshe Hadari. The brigade left the YMH (Emergency Warehouse Unit) at the Kurdish Camp and was reinforced by reserve battalion 39 of the 188th Brigade under the command of Lt Col Yoav Vespi in Ma'aleh Gamla, and by battalion 61 of the 205th Brigade under the command of Lt Col Moshe Meller. The brigade fought under the command of 210th Division and participated in the battles of containment, the Israeli counterattack in the Golan Heights, the battles to invade Syria and continued to act against both Syrian and Jordanian armored forces until the end of the fighting.

After the Yom Kippur War

After the Yom Kippur War the brigade was reorganized as an armored brigade with three tank battalions and renamed the 166th Brigade.

The Brigade Today

In 2003 the brigade from the Galilee Formation to the Explosion Formation, an armored reserve division subordinate to Northern Command. As of 2009 the brigade operates Merkava Siman 4 tanks. Prior to this the brigade had been equipped with older model Merkava tanks.[4] Close to the end of Operation Tzuk Eitan, tanks and reservists from the Kiryati Brigade joined the 401st Brigade.

The brigade's engineering battalion is the 7071st BN.

Brigade Commanders

Michael Ben-GalWar of Independence, later President of the Military Court of Appeals
Ben Zion Friedan
Nehemiah Brosh1951-1955IDF Spokesperson
Joseph (Yoshe) Harpaz1955-1958Brig Cmdr Sinai Campaign, later Commander of the IDF Officers School
Elad Peledlater Commander of National Security College
Moshe Yotvatcmdr during the Six-Day War
Shlomo Amberlater head of the Haganah
Aviv Barzilai
Uri Bar-Ratzon
Yehuda Gavish1970-1972later President of Military Court of Appeals
Ya'akov Hadar (Peper)Brig commander Yom Kippur War
Zvi Barlater Israel Police, mayor of Ramat Gan
Amnon Eshkollater command of Nahal Brigade
Yossi Melamedlater head of Southern Command
Ehud Grosslater Chief Education officer
Ami Plantlater Chief Armor Officer
Heter Shalom
Rafael Landesberg
Gideon Taran
Ran Yarom
Agai Yehezkel2000-2003later Chief Armored Officer,Head of Planning Dept in Operations Branch
Moshe Sheetrit
Guy Bar-Levlater Chief Combat Officer
Lior Hochman
Yair Valensky2010-2013later Commander 401st Brigade
Gal Shochmi2013-2015Commander 188th Brigade
Rely Margalit
Yair Orr2017-

Further Reading

Mordechai Naor (chief editor), Lexicon of the Haganah Defense Force, 1992 Values: Kiryati, 42nd Battalion, 43rd Battalion, 44th Battalion Yosef Olitzky, From the Events of War, Tel Aviv 1949 - The History of Kiryati, Givati and Alexandroni Moshe (Musa) Eshed, Field Force ("Hayash") in the Tel Aviv District: Collection of Friends' Stories, Tel Aviv, 2001. Ya'akov Morag (ed.), The Story of the 95th Tank Regiment; History of the 95th Battalion from its establishment in 1960 until its dissolution in 1988, the 95th Battalion, 2007

External Links

Division 4 - the Kiryati Division at the Armored Corps site A film showing the brigade's exploits during the Yom Kippur War Information about the battle from Regiment 219 and the investigation of its missing persons on the website of the IDF Personnel Directorate. Hanan Greenberg, Siman Tov and Mazal tov: Merkava 4 also for reservists, Ynet, July 26, 2011. Armored Training: The "Kiryati" reserve brigade fought in a built-up area on the IDF website (via the Internet archive), July 29, 2013.


^ From Yitzhak Rabin's book, Service Notebook, page 567; Quoted in the column of Erel Segal, Operation Purge, November 19, 2003, nrg ^ David Ben-Gurion, The Renewed State of Israel, Vol. I, p. ^ Battalion 43, on the site "Gilad" ^ The news item on the old IDF Spokesperson's website