This Week in Israeli History: Outbreak of Yom Kippur War – Zvika Force, Leon Klinghoffer and the NILI

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Zvika Greengold - One of the Yom Kippur War's Most Outstanding Heroes
Lieutenant Zvika Greengold was on leave when the war broke out on October 6, 1973, and upon hearing the news immediately threw on his uniform and hitchhiked up north to the nearest army base. There Zvika requested to be put in charge of his old tank company, but no tanks or personnel were available.
After spending time caring for many wounded soldiers, Zvika noticed two old damaged but usable tanks on the base. He immediately assembled a squad and radioed in that he had a “force” prepared and requested permission to go into battle.
Higher ups eagerly accepted Lt. Greengold's proposal, having no idea that his “force” consisted of two battered tanks. “Zvika Force” sped off to the front lines to reinforce the remnants of the two decimated IDF brigades that were facing five full divisions of Syrian tanks.
Shortly into the battle one of the tanks broke down, but Zvika was determined to continue. He kept on firing and maneuvering his position in the darkness, making it seem like his “force” was indeed a massive force and not only one tank.
In the span of thirty hours, Zvika was hit half a dozen times, causing him to jump from tank to tank, finding operable tanks left behind and using them to fight.
"Zvika Force” destroyed an estimated 20 – 40 Syrian tanks, successfully halting the Syrian advance and fooling them into thinking that the IDF's reserves had arrived and brought a massive amount of reinforcements.
After thirty hours of intense fighting, Lt. Greengold crawled out of his tank, battered, bruised, and burnt, saying, “I can't go anymore,” and then collapsed.
Zvika Greengold's actions saved the Golan Heights from falling into Syrian hands. For his actions he was awarded The Medal of Valor, Israel's highest military decoration.
The Achille Lauro Hijacking and the Murder of Leon Klinghoffer
On October 7, 1985, four Palestinian terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) hijacked a cruise ship sailing from Egypt to Israel. Holding the crew and passengers hostage, the terrorists set sail for Syria, demanding the release of 50 Palestinian terrorists who were jailed in Israel.
After the Syrian government refused to let the hijackers dock, the terrorists decided to negotiate and agreed to release the hostages in exchange for safe passage to Tunisia. Despite this, however, the terrorists shot and killed a wheelchair-bound American Jew, Leon Klinghoffer, and then dumped his body overboard.
As many of the hostages were American tourists, US President Ronald Reagan authorized American war planes to intercept the plane carrying away the terrorists and forced them to land in US-Italian air base in Sicily.
The US arrested the 4 terrorists, but due to disagreements with Italy, was unable to apprehend the chief mastermind and head of the PLF, Muhammad Zaidan, who was also on the plane. In 2003 Zaidan was captured by American special forces in Iraq and died a year later while in their custody.
The NILI was a small Jewish espionage organization established in 1915 that passed information to the British, assisting them in ousting the Ottoman Empire from Palestine.
Due to the cruel and oppressive manner in which the Ottoman’s ruled Palestine, Aaron Aaronsohn, his sister Sarah, and their friends Avshalom Feinberg and Yosef Lishansky established the NILI, a Hebrew acronym for Netzach Yisrael Lo Yishaker (lit. The Eternity (God) of Israel Will Not Lie).
The NILI was responsible for spying on the Turks and passing information to the British. In 1917, one of the Nili's carrier pigeons was intercepted by the Turks, and Zichron Ya'kov, the city in which the NILI was operating, was soon besieged. Sarah Aaronsohn was captured and tortured for days, but did not divulge any of the organization’s secrets. On the fourth day, she shot herself with a weapon she had concealed, not wanting to risk divulging any information that would incriminate her friends. She passed away on October 9, 1917.
Aaron Aaronsohn was relaying information to British in Egypt at the time of the discovery, and remained there until the Turks were defeated. A few months before the NILI was discovered, Avshalom Feinberg was murdered by marauding Bedouins in the Sinai on one of his journeys relaying information to the British in Egypt. The news of his murder was told by his companion, Yosef Lishansky, another member of the NILI who had been traveling with him. Lishansky was badly wounded but managed to escape and return to Palestine where he continued operating for the NILI until he was caught and publicly hung by the Turks.
During the Six Day War, an old Bedouin led Israeli soldiers to a place that they called Kabir Yehudi (the Jew’s grave). There Avshalom Feinberg's remains were discovered under a lone palm tree in the middle of the Sinai desert that sprung from the date seeds he had in his pocket.
The NILI was crucial in helping the British oust the Ottomans from Palestine. One of the most known pieces of information passed on by the NILI helped General Allenby's forces to surpass Turkish forces in Gaza and arrive at Beersheva where they launched a surprise attack and defeated the Turks.