TEL AVIV (Jun. 28)
All soldiers in the Defense Army of Israel, including Haganah units in Jerusalem, today took an oath of allegiance to the Provisional Government, following last night’s ceremony at which Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who also holds the portfolio of Defense Minister, administered the oath to 20 top commanders of the army.
As each of the field commanders and members of the general staff stepped forward to swear allegiance, his real name was called out, thus stripping the veil of anonymity from the members of the high command of the Haganah. Previously, they had only been Known publicly by aliases assumed to foil British attempts to smash the Haganah, Most of them have served jail sentences–in some cases up to three years–for their Haganah activities.
The oath was administered in a roped-off square in front of the army’s closely guarded headquarters. The officers were drawn up at attention before a blue-and-white flag of Israel and each heard the oath, then said: “I swear,” as his name was called out. The only top commander absent was Yaacov Dostrowaky, chief of the general staff, who was kept away by illness; In a short address at the end of the ceremony Ben Gurion emphasized that the “devotion, loyalty and strength of your soldiers–men and women alike, on land and sea and air–will bring the victory which will bring redemption to our people in its homeland and prosperity, peace and progress to all of the Middle East,”
First officer to be called forward was 34-year-old Yigal Yadin-Sukenik, chief of operations, Sukenik is well known in Israel as an archaeologist and son of Prof. E.L. Sukenik, one of the most famous archaeologists in the Middle East. He was followed by Yigal Alon Feikowitzer, a farmer in a communal settlement who commands the Palmach, the army’s commando force. He has been on the British “wanted” list for years. Moshe Carmeli, quiet and tall, the commander of the Israeli forces who captured Haifa, took the oath next. After serving in the British army in the last war, Carmeli was imprisoned by them for 18 months for Haganah activities.
ORGANIZER OF PALMACH LIVED EIGHT YEARS IN UNDERGROUND
The fourth to swear, and perhaps to most colorful figure in the group, was Itzhak Sadeh, a six-foot tall, bearded man of middle age. A field commander, Sedeh was responsible for the final defeat of Fawzi el Kaukuji’s forces at Mishmar Hasmek turning point of the battle for Israel in the days before the Mandate ended. He also fought at Jerusalem, where David Shealtiel commanded the fight in the Old City. Sedeh, a Russian immigrant who served in Kerensky’s forces and the Soviet Army as a private until 1922, organized the Palmach during World War II. For the last eight years he has been living underground.
Other commanders who participated in the ceremony ware: Uri Jaffe, Eliahu Ben Hur, Dan Even, Yehanman Kattner, Yosef Avidar, Yehezkiel Secher, Israel Amira, Michael Ben Gal, Michael Schooham, Mordechai Maklev, Moshe Zakok Zvi Ayalon, Shalom Eshet, Shlomo Shamir, Shauel Admon and Shimon Ardan.