Sarit Hadad at the UN .
(photo credit: MARK VON HOLDEN)
PROMINENT AMONG the foreign volunteers who came to Israel to fight in the War of Independence were those from South Africa. Like many of their counterparts from other countries, many had seen combat during World War II and were experienced soldiers, sailors and airmen.Among the best known of the South African volunteers is Smoky Simon, who was a navigator, and the late Boris Senior, a pilot, who on May 14, 1948 carried out the first operational flight over enemy territory at the very time that David Ben Gurion was proclaiming Israel’s Independence. Senior was the commander of the Sde Dov Air Force Base in Tel Aviv. The South African Zionist Federation opened an office in Israel in 1948 to serve as a home away from home for South Africa’s volunteers. It wasn’t just a drop-in place for coffee and a sandwich. It doled out pocket money to supplement the meager wages of the volunteers, and was a permanent address for letters and parcels from their families.