It was a beautiful morning in Israel, the sun was shining and the skies were clear. After breakfast, we headed to Latrun, an Arab fortress on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This fortress used to be the key to Jerusalem, if you controlled Latrun, you controlled the road to Jerusalem. We unable to control it in 1948 while Jerusalem was on the brink of collapse until an alternate road was found (Burma Road). Latrun was only conquered in 1967.
Today, Latrun is the memorial of the Tank Corps and contains a museum of close to 500 tanks used by Israel or conquered by Israel during the various wars and operations.
Latrun has a memorial with the names of close to 5000 soldiers who fell from the Tank Corps since the creation of the state.
We then headed to Tel Aviv, following a spaghetti lunch, where we visited the Palmach Museum. During the Second World War, the Nazis headed towards Palestine which was led by Rommel. The British would have needed to remove some of their troops from Europe to block the Nazi advance, to avoid removing soldiers from the main front, they agreed to train elite Jewish soldiers to block Rommel. The British trained soldiers formed The Palmach, elite strike force, which ultimately formed the lead fighters of the hagganah. By 1948 Arab–Israeli War consisted of over 2,000 men and women in three fighting brigades which became part of the Israeli Defense Forces in 1948 after the formation of the State. The Museum follows the lives of a small unit of a dozen men and women through the war, their joy and their tragedies. The museum is magnificently done and it is hard not to shed a tear as one follows the trials of the new country still faced with the Arab Israeli War.
We spent the afternoon dipping our toes in the cold Mediterranean Sea while playing an Israeli beach ping pong and a tennis game.
We then went into the very house and room where Ben Gurion declared independence on May 14, 1948. The guide was very patient and made the presentation interactive giving our students the opportunity to show their knowledge of Early Zionist history. As always, our children knew their stuff and we were proud of them.
To conclude with the visit, we heard a recording of David Ben Gurion declaring independence and we joined the orchestra singing Hatikvah. This dramatic moment was accompanied by snapping pictures as we stood in front of the table where Ben Gurion made his historic remarks with almost 2000 years of Jewish exile coming to a crashing halt. A Jewish State was born.
We concluded the day with a sentimental visit from members of our families who came to the Azrieli Center to greet us, take us out for dinner and spoil us.
Tomorrow we are heading to Jerusalem for fun, adventure, history and spirituality all packed into a single day.