(Source: Yuli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

A compass belonging to one of the soldiers of Israel’s famous Independence War’s Mountain Division was discovered at the top of Battle Hill in the lowlands of the Judean Hills, next to machine gun pods. According to researchers Dr. Rafi Lewis from Haifa University and And Eyal Marco from the Antiquities Authority, the compass belonged to the commander of the division, Danny Mas, or to one of the two scouts who fought in the division, Yitzhak Halevi or Yitzhak Zebuloni.

The final battle of the Mountain Division, in which dozens of Israeli forces were ambushed and killed by local armed Arabs, is studied by IDF officers to this day.  Even after more than 75 years since the battle took place, in which all 35 Israelis who were on their way to help the besieged Gush Etzion Jewish settlements were killed, the event still has an important place in the Zionist ethos.

The study carried out by Marco and Lewis, used archaeological methods to research events that took place, examined the hill on which the battle took place through a rather shallow archaeological dig, and collected for the first time in an orderly and systematic way, evidence that remains to this day from the battlefield. The only testimonies that remain from the battle come from the Arab armed villagers and the British officer who coordinated the collection of the bodies of the Israeli troops; From the Israeli side of the battlefield, not a single soldier survived to tell the story.

When asked by “Makor Rishon” reporters why they pushed for this recent archaeological dig, Marco and Lewis replied "We saw that the material evidence from the battle was disappearing, the objects are weathering in the field, and hikers are collecting souvenirs, and we felt that if we don't do it now, in a few years we won't have the opportunity to document the battlefield. With the help of colleagues, family members, and many others, we began this project!"

On one of the research days, the researchers found at the top of the battle hill, behind a rock that was apparently used as a shelter for one of the Israeli soldiers, a number of Bren machine gun pods and a brass compass, which has a dial locking mechanism. In-depth and worldwide research shows that the compass, of a simple kind for its time and which did not bear the manufacturer's name, was created during the first part of the 20th century. Forensic research done at the Israel Police laboratories showed that the glass of the compass was shattered as a result of a bullet that pierced the frame of the compass, scratched, and shattered its glass.

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