War of Independence pin for the Palmach's 5th Battalion "Shaar HaGay"(pronounced "Sha'ar ha Gai"), 1948-49; weight: 5.45g; size: 3cm x 4cm; with fastened safety pin on reverse and incused back. The shield depicts a rising sun above the Judean Hills (around Jerusalem) and an armoured car, sumrounted by the Palmach'semblem of a sword across two sheaths of wheat.
Numbering 4 battalions with 12 companies (2,100 men and 1,000 reservists) on the eve of the War of Independence, the Palmach immediately expanded its ranks with the formation of the 5th and 6th battalions (under Shaul Yafe and Tzvi Zamir - the future head of the Mossad - respectively).
The 5th battalion was unique in the annals of the Palmach for its highly improvised creation: formed shortly after the United Nations vote to partition Palestine (29 Nov. 1947) between December 1947 and January 1948, the force was an amalgamation of Palmach reservists from Tel Aviv, members of the "Hagana" field companies ("Hish"), new recruits and volunteers from cities, kibbutzim and moshavim, and in the course of the War (1947-49), new immigrants as well as Holocaust survivors - all lightly/poorly trained with no prior organization; the battalion's commanders had similarly no previous familiarity with their troops.
Assigned to the Palmach's "Harel Brigade" (under the command of Yitzhak Rabin), and perhaps overshadowed by the Brigade's repute, the somewhat unknown 5th Battalion was a surprising linchpin in the Palmach's wartime operations: during the 1st phase of the War until April 1948 - the struggle for control of transportation arteries - the battalion was assigned to protect the coastal approaches to Jerusalem; to protect convoys delivering food and supplies to beseiged western [Jewish] Jerusalem from attacks by Arab irregulars, and also to mount reprisal attacks against villages from which the Arab forces mounted their attacks. There was only one main artery to Jerusalem and the Israeli leadership viewed its security as vital to the protection of Jerusalem; without Jerusalem, they felt, there would be no Jewish State.
The battalion participated in several famed convoy operations, including those to Gush Etzion, and the 'Great Convoy' of some 300 vehicles including the Israeli leadership to Jerusalem. All told, the battalion enabled 245 convoys of 3,100 vehicles with 10,800 tons of supplies to reach Jerusalem, delivering 90% of the beseiged city's basic needs.
From April onwards, the battalion participated in the conquests of the Katamon district, Beit Shemesh, Shuafat, Sheikh Jarakh and opening the artery to the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, and earned its nickname for lifting the seige on the portion of the Jerusalem road called "Shaar HaGay" ("Bab el Wad" in Arabic). The battalion earned further distinction during the Israeli Army's third attempt to remove the Arab Legion from a critical juncture in Latrun along the Jerusalem road, when the force actually did capture a vital position there. Although it later had to abandon it, its attack limited the Legion's scope of movement and enabled the IDF to use its nearby improvised "Burma Road" route to Jerusalem. In subsequent operations the battalion even reached Rafiah, in the Gaza strip. After the War, in spring 1949, the force patrolled the dust road along the border with Jordan.
מילות מפתח: מיליטריה מיליטאריה סיכות סיכה יחידות יחידה שירות חולצה חולצות דרגה דרגות תג תגיות צה"ל צה"לי צבא הגנה פלמ"ח