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Sowing with tears

 

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Sowing with TearsOn the afternoon of Thursday, May 13,1948, the sound of gunfire sputtered to astop in Kfar Etzion. Jordanian soldiers ofthe Arab Legion burst through thekibbutz gate. The handful of exhausteddefenders, their weapons few and theirammunition spent, stood facing waves ofanger and hatred. As they lay down theirguns, they knew that their dream ofreturning to these ancient hills was over.The prisoners were duly photographed,then mown down by vicious gunfire.Only two of them managed to escape.The bodies of the rest lay abandonedamong the ruins of the Jewish settlementfor months before they could bereclaimed and brought to burial at themilitary cemetery on Mt. Herzl inJerusalem.The next day, Friday, May 14, 1948,Yitzhak Rabin, commander of the HarelBrigade, stood on the roof of his headquarters at Ma’ale Ha-Chamisha andgazed in the direction of the Etzion Bloc.Tears flowing silently down his cheeks,he watched through binoculars as thesurviving defenders of the threeremaining settlements were takenprisoner by the Arab Legion. Themarauders looted the settlements and setthem ablaze. Four red tongues of fireshot skyward, like Shabbat candlesburning on the peaks of the Hebron hills.A voice crackled from the field radio, “AJewish state has been born!” At that verymoment, David Ben-Gurion wasdeclaring the establishment of a Jewishstate in Palestine - the State of Israel.Among the fallen in that battle wasYaakov Klepholz, who with his brotherShlomo had survived the inferno of theHolocaust and had been among the firstto settle in the Etzion Bloc. The brothersbuilt homes, married, and had children.As intensifying Arab attacks isolated thesettlements, Yaakov wrote, “We must bevery strong indeed… Difficult daysawait us. But we will overcome them,and will yet see our children strollinghere among these trees, here wheredanger now lurks behind every rock andtree.”Shlomo Klepholz was killed when thefirst convoy from Jerusalem to thebesieged settlements of the Etzion Blocwas attacked, on Chanuka - December12,1947. He was driving the lead truck. Each of the two brothers left a son tocarry his name. Yom Yerushalayim,Wednesday 28 Iyar (June 7, 1967), wasalso the day the IDF returned to BeitLechem and the Etzion Bloc. In theirwake came the Klepholz brothers’ twosons, who now live and work with theirfamilies, their grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, in the restored kibbutz ofKfar Etzion.Yohanan Ben-Yaakov (Klepholz)Reprinted by arrangement withSegula Jewish History Magazinewww.segulamag.com