Article - Memorial Day 1986
MEMORIAL DAY 5746 (1986)
THE NEGEV BRIGADE MEMORIAL
The Negev Brigade Memorial - which overlooks the capital of the Negev, Beersheba (Be'er Sheva) - commemorates the deeds of the Palmach's "Negev Brigade" in 1948. From a distance, it looks like a tiny Negev settlement standing out in the bare desert.
The architect-sculptor, Danny Caravan, sought to create something more than just a memorial to the fallen, and his monument is designed to illustrate the story of the Negev Brigade and the besieged Negev settlements. He achieved this by including in the memorial structures which are imitations of a water tower, shells, a Palmach tent, a look-out post inside a communications trench, a bunker, a well, a water supply line, acacias and a serpent-shaped building which symbolizes the defeated Egyptian army. He wanted to create a memorial that would not merely be a piece of sculpture, but would be a "happening" in which the visitor could take part. Thus the monument is made up of sculptured forms which one can climb over or wander through. The visitor doesn't simply stand to one side to admire, but walks through the memorial, goes up and down and looks into every corner to see what is hidden there.
The monument, made of rough gray concrete, blends successfully into its surroundings. Its walls are inscribed with excerpts from the Brigade's diary, which is kept at Brigade HQ and items of poetry and prose especially composed by Chaim Guri and Natan Shacham.
In the center of the monument is the memorial dome where the names of the Brigade's fallen are recorded, and there is a bowl for the Memorial Light. On the eastern wall are inscribed the words "To all who visit here - you have reached the Negev, a part of the country hallowed by our fathers". The Negev Brigade was formed in April 1948 under the command of Nahum Sarig and it was given the difficult task of securing the road to the north and guarding the water pipe-line to the Negev. On May 15th, the Egyptians crossed the border with the aim of reaching Tel Aviv. They attacked Kefar Darom and Nirim but were repulsed. Later they captured Yad Mordechai and Majdal but failed in their attack on Be'erot Yitzhak and from then on, the initiative passed from their hands. However, the Israeli operation aimed at clearing the road to the Negev failed, and as the second cease-fire came into force, the Negev was still cut off.
On August 6th, the Negev and Givati brigades were combined into the southern front under the command of Yigal Allon with Yitzhak Rabin as operations officer. The Negev Brigade was then moved north for a time, but in October it went back south, helped to re-open the road to the Negev and captured Beersheva (Be'er Sheva). This was followed by the re-opening of the road to Sedom and the taking of the Egyptian's Asiuj-Nizana-Agila line. The advance was halted 10 km from El Arish when political pressure forced it to withdraw. The Negev and Golani brigades then went on to capture Eilat, thus achieving their objective to liberate the Negev "from sea to sea".
The stamp depicts the Memorial for the Negev Brigade, Beersheba. The tab inscription is: "Memorial Day for the Fallen in Israel's Battles - 1986".