The IDF war crimes in 1956
The confession of the Israelis “Mitla, Ras Sadr, El-Tur and Sharm El sheikh”
In 1956 Sinai War
Excerpt from Oren’s Research Report
By Ronal Fisher
It began on Monday, October 29, 1956, at exactly 16:59. Paratroopers’ Battalion 890 under the command of Raphael (Raful) Eitan was parachuted on the eastern side of the Mitla pass, deep in enemy territory. This was the first moment of the war, to be known later as the Suez War.
There were 395 fighters, including the commander, Raful, who participated in the jump. While they were still hovering between heaven and earth, the soldiers identified two large tents on the eastern side of the Mitla pass. They did not open fire from the air nor were they able, at that stage, to determine exactly who was there. Later it became clear. They were civilians, Egyptian public works employees, who happened to be at the place where the Israeli army commanders decided to parachute their force. They were captured and taken prisoners.Two days later, after the awaited link-up was made with Division 202, Sharon assumed command in Mitla and Raful’s battalion was ordered to move on to Ras Sudar. The Egyptian workers who had been captured on the first day of the parachuting were not loaded on the trucks and did not join the battalion which began to move to the south in a convoy, nor were they transferred to Sharon’s soldiers. In fact, none of the soldiers of Battalion 890 can testify to having seen them alive after the force packed up and left.
Lieutenant Colonel (reserves) Danny Wolf (known as Rahav), recipient of the Award of Valor1 in the Six Day War, today admits that the Egyptian civil engineering workers were slaughtered on the second day of the campaign while the battalion was still isolated Wolf, who later became the commander of the Shaked Elite Unit, was at the time a soldier in the company commanders’ course in Battalion 890. If it had been up to him, he now says, the Egyptians would remained alive. On the other hand, there were the circumstances of that time. Wolf, like all who were there, does not like to talk about that part of the campaign, and has been careful to remain silent all these years. Now he is talking.
“There were 20 or 25 men. I do not remember exactly how many. All were dressed in white jellabas. Road workers, poor guys. It is an extremely hard work in the middle of the desert. They whined from thirst and hunger. They could have been left there with some food and water, theoretically, but the truth is that we did not have enough water for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to find justifications for what we did. But the truth; any way you look at it, is that there was nothing we could do with them. We were about to move, we received an order to advance and they were stuck among us. Releasing them was inconceivable, because the last thing that any of us wanted to do, was to provide free information to the Egyptians about how to locate and screw us before the arrival of Sharon’s force. The army had taken us and thrown us, Battalion 890, hundreds of kilometers inside enemy territory, without reinforcements or anything. It was not a simple situation. I personally would not have shot those k workers in any case. Not even in our situation. But the people who did, shot.”
Did you see with your own eyes that the Egyptian workers were shot dead?
“What do you mean, did I see it? About 300 people saw it, nearly the entire battalion. We stood on the hills when some officers took them one kilometer to the south, away from us. Then they started to mow them down. It was not a pleasant sight.”
What did they do?
“Some of them were frozen to the spot, some fell, and some fled. Look, it was not a professional murder. I don’t think that they all died. Perhaps some of them understood what was going on, got to their feet and ran to the desert. It is very likely that some of them survived.”
“Aryeh Biro, the commander.”
Who gave the order?
“Raful, the battalion commander.”
- The highest award in the Israeli army.[back]