Excerpts from the film "Yoni", directed by Simeon Winnaker
In May 1967, Egypt moves its army into the Sinai Desert. With Syria and Jordan encircling Israel, the Arab alliance declared its intent of destroying the Jewish State. Alongside other Israeli civilians, Yoni is once again drafted into service and awaits the coming war.
"I'm glad I hadn't left for college in the U.S. and that I'm here. If something happens, I want to be here in Israel and not abroad. I think that if I were in America now, I'd go crazy! But nothing has happened yet, and all is quiet."
June 6, 1967
My beloved ones,
God knows we didn't want all this! To be at war -- so real and yet so impossible to accept. Common sense cries: No, no!
Yesterday I saw Bibi. Was it really only yesterday? An eternity seems to have gone by since them. But only yesterday I was laughing in his company. Only yesterday I was home for a few hours, only yesterday I embraced Tuti. Only yesterday!
Tuti my love,
That's it. A battle has ended. We left the expanses of sand strewn with the bodies of the dead, filled with fire and smoke, and now we are once again in our own country. I am eaten up with worry for you. Perhaps in a few days, when it's all over and we're together again, perhaps then we'll smile… Tonight, and maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we'll be shooting again, and again there'll be dead and wounded.
After participating in the pivotal battle of Um-Katef in the Sinai, Yoni and his battalion are moved north to fight the Syrians on the Golan Heights. Four hours before the cease-fire, Yoni attempts to aid a wounded comrade, and is shot in his elbow. Bleeding, he crawls back to the Israeli lines, and upon reaching them, collapses.
The Kidnapping from Lebanon - Operation "Argaz"
During the summer of 1972, Yoni commands an operation of the Unit in Lebanon, in which his younger brother Iddo also takes part.
Iddo: "There was a plan to kidnap Syrian officers in order to exchange them for Israeli pilots and navigators who were languishing for a long time in Syrian jails."
Aharon Gabai (solider in Sayeret Matkal): "The main figure in all the preparations was Yoni. He trained us for the operation. He went to the field with us, taught us how to grab the men, from which side of the vehicle..."
Yoni's force positions itself at nighttime near the border with Lebanon. When the Syrian convoy and their Lebanese escorts near, Yoni moves in. The convoy is warned by Lebanese civilians and turns back, but Yoni and his men pursue them. In a brief firefight, they overcome the Lebanese escorts and capture the Syrian officers.
Iddo: "When we crossed the border to Israel with the fancy Chevrolet that we captured, full of victory and glory, I remember that Yoni wasn't even with us. He was somewhere in a Lebanese village, trying to find out what happened to a car he thought had escaped.
The Israeli pilots are later freed from Syria in exchange for the top-ranking captives of the Syrian Intelligence."
Yom Kippur War
On Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack. Israel faces its most severe challenge since 1948. Despite a disastrous start and far smaller numbers, Israel's soldiers succeed, at heavy cost, to block the Arab onslaught. The opening of war finds Yoni and his men in the Golan heights facing the advancing Syrian army.
General Shai Avital: "Here, beyond these volcanic rocks, the Syrians lay and shot at our half-tracks, and here an officer - Gideon Avidov - was killed. Baruch Zuckerman was hit further on. After our first assault, fear settled in, a great fear. That's when I looked up and saw Yoni. He had gathered a group of soldiers and was advancing, seeking the Syrian commandos, shooting his way forward. Yoni was walking very calmly, as if he were in a drill, with soldiers to his right and to his left. He gave us the confidence to get up and join him in battle.
Forty Syrian commandos, on a mission was to capture Israel's headquarters on the Golan Heights, are destroyed by Yoni's smaller force.
Yoni loses two of his soldiers.
Once the Syria advance is blocked, Israel counterattacks. Yoni and his soldiers accompany the armored brigade that penetrates Syrian-held territory."
General Yosi Ben Hanan (armored battalion commander during the Yom Kippur War): "Four men were killed, and in my tank Henry Vidal got killed. Only two of us were left - myself, wounded, half-conscious near the tank, unable to take control, and the tank driver, private Zvika Rosenzweig, who made contact over the radio to inform the Brigade commander Yanosh that the battalion commander was still alive. When I recovered a bit I too spoke on the radio. Yanosh said to me: Don't worry, your buddy will get you out...
Yoni followed the tracks of the tanks, and came to me with his force of two armored personnel carriers. They put me on a stretcher, and because I recognized Yoni I started to say: "Be careful! There's shooting!" Stuff like that. And Yoni told me: "Yosi, be quiet now. I'm in command here."
"Operation Jonathan" - click here