The paratroopers themselves counted 168 bodies of potential POWs, when they returned on their way from Sharm al-Sheikh to al-Tur and before they got on the planes homeward. The men had been shot, sometimes in the back while fleeing and certainly not in the course of a battle.
That figure, never published previously, is well remembered by Danny Wolf:
“They fell on us in their hundreds, loaded with crates of grenades. We were only 80, maybe 100 fighters with five wrecked armored trucks that hardly moved. That was what was left of the battalion after we crossed Sinai, 800 kilometers into the desert, when suddenly the Egyptian soldiers appeared before us. I thought to myself years later that if they had wanted to annihilate us, they wouldn’t have had to fire even one bullet. It would have been sufficient if they had run towards us and overrun us en masse. Yet, somehow, the Egyptians were broken and defeated enough to have no thought of an aggressive attack1.”It did not even occur to them. We met them in small groups. One time seven soldiers, then ten, once 15. Individuals among them fired, the majority simply ran into us or into the desert as if bent on suicide. I don’t know how long it had been since they had seen a drop of water, but when we met, them they had already lost human dignity. We tried to gather them as prisoners but they kept coming, like waves. At some stage we understood that it would not end, and that we were stuck on with them, instead of being able to advance towards Sharm al-Sheikh. We then stopped counting and started mowing them down. It was madness. We fired at anything that moved. We massacred them until our souls left our bodies. Marcel Tobias((Regarded as a legendary hero.)) the deputy commander who raced ahead, simply stood them, stripped them of weapons and then shot them. Later we also took watches, rings, wallets with Egyptian money and got at the next group. It got more sophisticated with every kilometer we advanced. I saw guys stripping Egyptians of everything they had on them while alive because it was easier and only then shooting them. That way they could collect more booty in less time, without having to handle the bodies. When we reached at the sections of the road which Marcel or Biro had passed, the Egyptians already knew not to stand still and they tried to flee. They knew that they would not find any water or captivity from us and that if they stood still they would be slaughtered and even their underpants would be taken from them. We were technically incapable of taking hundreds of POWs while moving in enemy territory but even if we had to kill them, why should we rob them like animals? Where did the combat morality, conscience, purity of arms and the values that we were taught disappear? I do not know. I do not have a good answer to that. I only know that my trauma from Sharm al-Sheikh affected me years later when I was put in command of the Shaked Commando Unit. Then I told my soldiers that whoever would shoot a prisoner or loot him, I would personally shoot him dead. And I meant every word of it.”
- They were broken by the stupid order to retreat blindly. [↩]