Memorial day 1981

  • Issue: May 1981
  • Designer: D. Cohen
  • Stamp size: 20 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 13
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

On top of a ridge, north of the Pazael Valley, stands a grand monument visible from afar. The site is reached by a winding road leading east off the Jordan Valley road a few hundred meters north of the junction leading to Pazael and Ma'ale Efraim. This is the memorial to soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces who lost their lives in the Jordan Valley.

The memorial was not erected on this particular site by chance. It is situated in the heart of the "manhunt country", between the northern and southern sectors of this region of battles during the years 1967-1970 and it looks out over the greater part of the Valley.

After the terrorists were driven from Judea and Samaria at the end of 1967, the eastern side of the Jordan Valley became the principal base of terrorist attacks on Israel. Large areas were controlled by the terrorists and from them they shelled the border settlements and army outposts. Murdering bands of terrorists infiltrated through the long, winding border, in an effort to reach the Arab settlements situated on the mountain top and from there to go on to attack targets within Israel. In order to counter this, the Israel army constructed a defence system designed to seal off the Valley. The border was fenced and mined and an electronic warning system installed; roads and "track detection strips" were cleared to reveal traces of the terrorists; outposts and Nahal settlements were set up at key points and every night ambushes were laid in the vicinity of the Jordan River. The "Valley Regiment", under Central Command, was responsible for operating the system and it developed its own strategy called "manhunt" which was designed to prevent any infiltration of the area.

The Regiment included paratroopers and infantry (both regular and reserve troops) and a reconnaissance force and they relentlessly pursued the terrorists from the moment they were detected not giving up until they succeeded in tracking down their quarry, attacking them and either killing them or taking them prisoner. Leading each manhunt were some of the army's best fighting commanders and several of them fell in battle, leading the attack on the enemy.

In addition to these defensive measures, a number of retaliatory and preventative attacks were launched into enemy territory by combined forces of armour, artillery and planes. The terrorists were driven out of the Jordan Valley and later, also from the western slope of the Gilad Heights. Calm was restored to the Valley in September. 1970. In the course of these operations, 1 ,000 terrorists were killed and 400 taken prisoner, and several hundred Jordanian and Iraqi troops who aided them, also lost their lives.

The monument which is 21 meters high was designed by the sculptor Yigal Tumarkin and was dedicated on the 28th November 1972. The leading spirit behind the setting up of the memorial was the then CO. of Central Command, Aluf Ze'evi. It consists of two horizontal structures in whitened concrete and a vertical black steel structure made up of parts of weapons and military vehicles welded together. The sculptor had this to say about his work - "In these two components I wanted the concrete to have the quality of a static-monumental mass and the steel to convey a piercing feeling. Through this contrast I succeeded in obtaining the force I was striving for. The horizontal component of the monument is an architectural ornament which serves, first and foremost as a jumping-off point - a kind of launching pad for the exploding steel arm".

At the side of the steel structure is a sort of stylized torch hinting at the lighting of the New Moon bonfires in ancient times on one of the surrounding peaks. To the left of the monument is a plaque on which are inscribed the names of the 189 men who fell on the Jordan Valley front during the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition. In 1978 a further 87 names were added commemorating those who fell after the dedication of the monument including the 54 parachutists and air force personnel who perished in the helicopter that crashed while on a training mission in 1977.

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Memorial day 1981