Latrun is a strategic hilltop in the Ayalon Valley in Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 overlooking the road to Jerusalem. It is located 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem and 14 kilometers southeast of Ramla
Ramla , is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region...



There are two theories regarding the origin of the name of Latrun. One is that it is a corruption of Le toron des chevaliers (the Castle of the Knights), the Crusader
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 stronghold in the area. The other is that it is named for the good thief who was crucified by the Romans alongside Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 (Lucas 23:40-43).

Biblical era

In the Hebrew Bible
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, the Ayalon Valley was the site of a battle in which the Israelites, led by Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

, defeated the Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

s (Joshua 10:1-11). Centuries of Jewish sovereignty ensued. Later, Judah Maccabee established his camp here in preparation for battle with the Seleucid Greeks, who had invaded
Israel/Judea and were camped at Emmaus
Emmaus Nicopolis
Emmaus Nicopolis was the Roman name for a city associated with the Emmaus of the New Testament, where Jesus is said to have appeared after his death and resurrection. In the modern age, the site was the location of the Palestinian Arab village of Imwas, near the Latrun junction, between Jerusalem...

. As described in the Book of Maccabees
The Maccabees were a Jewish rebel army who took control of Judea, which had been a client state of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 164 BCE to 63 BCE, reasserting the Jewish religion, expanding the boundaries of the Land of Israel and reducing the influence...

, the Greeks found the Jewish camp empty, and were then surprised by an attack by Judah's forces appearing suddenly in the valley. The ensuing battle
Battle of Emmaus
The Battle of Emmaus took place in 166 BC between the Hasmonean forces of Judea, led by Judas Maccabeus, also spelled Machabeus, or Maccabaeus, known to history as Judas the Hammer, and the third expedition of Greek forces given by Antiochus IV Epiphanes to Lysias...

 provided the Jewish forces with the first major victory in the Maccabean Revolt, ultimately leading to more than a century of renewed Jewish independence under the rule of the Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...


Crusader era

Little remains of the castle, which was held by the Templars by 1187. The main tower was later surrounded with a rectangular enclosure with vaulted chambers. This in turn was enclosed by an outer court, of which one tower survives.

The Monastery of Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs

In December 1890, a monastery was established at Latrun by French, German and Flemish monks of the Trappists
The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of cloistered contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict...

, from Sept-Fons Abbey
Sept-Fons Abbey
Sept-Fons Abbey, Notre-Dame de Sept-Fons or Notre-Dame de Saint-Lieu Sept-Fons is a Trappist monastery at Diou in Bourbonnais in the diocese of Moulins in France.-First foundation:...

 in France, at the request of Monseigneur Poyet of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. The liturgy is in French. The monks bought the 'Maccabee Hotel', formerly called 'The Howard' from the Batato brothers together with two-hundred hectares of land and started the community in a building which still stands in the monastic domain. In 1909 it was given the status of a Priory
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

 and that of an Abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

 in 1937.

The monks soon established a vineyard using knowledge gained in France and advice from an expert in the employ of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild from the Carmel-Mizrahi Winery. Today they produce a wide variety of wines that are sold in the Abbey shop and elsewhere.

The community was expelled by the Ottoman Turks between 1914–1918 and the buildings pillaged. Construction of the present building began in 1926, with the crypt completed in 1933 and the church in 1954. The monastery was designed by the community's first abbot, Dom Paul Couvreur, and is a fine example of Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture
Cistercian architecture is a style of architecture associated with the churches, monasteries and abbeys of the Roman Catholic Cistercian Order. It was headed by Abbot Bernard of Clairvaux , who believed that churches should avoid superfluous ornamentation so as not to distract from the religious life...

. Much of the stained-glass windows were produced a monk of the community.

A Juniorate, a school for young boys, ran from 1931 until 1963 and provided many vocations for the community, especially of Lebanese monks. In 1983 a foundation was made in Lebanon to source vocations, but this closed in the 1990s.

The community allowed two further communities to be established on their land: Neve Shalom -Wahat as-Salam and the Jesus-Brudershaft. Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi
Walid Khalidi is an Oxford University-educated Palestinian historian who has written extensively on the Palestinian exodus. He is General Secretary and co-founder of the Institute for Palestine Studies, established in Beirut in December 1963 as an independent research and publishing center...

 in his book All That Remains describes the small village of al-Latrun established in the late 19th century by villagers from nearby Emmaus
Emmaus Nicopolis
Emmaus Nicopolis was the Roman name for a city associated with the Emmaus of the New Testament, where Jesus is said to have appeared after his death and resurrection. In the modern age, the site was the location of the Palestinian Arab village of Imwas, near the Latrun junction, between Jerusalem...


British Mandate

Following the 1936-1939 Arab revolt, the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 authorities built a number of police forts (named Tegart fort
Tegart fort
A Tegart fort is a style of militarized police "fortress" constructed throughout Palestine during the British Mandatory period.The forts are named after British police officer and engineer Sir Charles Tegart, who designed them in 1938 based on his experiences in the Indian insurgency.Tens of the...

s after their designer) at various locations; Latrun was chosen due to its strategic significance, particularly its dominant position above the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road. Many members of the Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 who had resisted British occupation were imprisoned at Latrun and the surrounding countryside.

1948 Arab-Israeli War

The road from the coastal plain to Jerusalem was blocked after the British withdrew and handed the fort of Latrun over to the Arab Legion
Arab Legion
The Arab Legion was the regular army of Transjordan and then Jordan in the early part of the 20th century.-Creation:...

. The Arab Legionnaires used the fort to shell Israeli vehicles traveling on the road below, effectively imposing a military siege on Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem (1948)
The Battle for Jerusalem occurred from 30 November 1947 to 11 June 1948 when Jewish and Arab population of Mandatory Palestine and later Israeli and Jordanian armies fought for the control of the city....


On 24 May 1948, ten days after Israel's declaration of independence, the fort was assaulted by combined forces of Israel's newly-created 7th Armoured Brigade, and a battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade
Alexandroni Brigade
The Alexandroni Brigade is an Israel Defense Forces brigade that fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Along with the 7th Armoured Brigade both units had 139 killed during the first battle of Latrun - Operation Ben Nun Alef .The unit is currently a reserve unit.-Katz controversy:In 1998, Teddy Katz...

. Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

, then a platoon commander, was wounded at Latrun along with many of his soldiers. The assault, code-named "Operation Ben Nun Alef", was unsuccessful, sustaining heavy casualties. On 1 June 1948, a second attack against the fort, codenamed Ben Nun Bet", also failed, although the outer defences had been breached.
Many of the Israeli fighters were young Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 survivors who had just arrived in the country and had minimal military training. The official casualty figure for both battles was 139.

To circumvent the blocked road, a makeshift camouflaged road through the seemingly impassable mountains towards Jerusalem was constructed under the command of Mickey (David) Marcus
Mickey Marcus
David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus was a United States Army colonel who assisted Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and who became Israel's first general . He was killed by friendly fire, when he was mistaken for an enemy infiltrator while returning to Israeli positions at night.Marcus is the best...

. This bypassed the main routes overlooked by Latrun and was named the Burma Road
Burma Road (Israel)
The Israeli "Burma Road" was a makeshift bypass road between the general vicinity of kibbutz Hulda and Jerusalem. It was built by Israeli forces headed by general Mickey Marcus during the 1948 Siege of Jerusalem...

 after its emergency supply-line namesake between Kumming (China) and Lashio (Burma), improvised by the Allies in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. By 9 June 1948, the first supplies got through to Jerusalem, putting an end to the month old Arab blockade.

On 2 August, the Truce Commission drew the attention of the Security Council to the Arabs' refusal to allow water and food supplies to reach Jerusalem. After much negotiation, it was agreed that United Nations convoys would transport supplies, but the convoys often came under sniper fire. Towards the end of August, the situation improved. The destruction of the Latrun pumping station made it impossible for water in adequate quantities to flow to Jerusalem, but the Israelis built an auxiliary water pipe-line of small capacity along the "Burma Road" which provided a minimum amount of water.

After Operation Danny
Operation Danny
Operation Danny was an Israeli military offensive launched at the end of the first truce of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The objectives were to capture territory east of Tel Aviv and then to push inland and relieve the Jewish population and forces in Jerusalem...

, Israeli forces anticipated a Jordanian counterattack, possibly from Latrun, but King Abdullah remained within the bounds of the tacit agreement made with the Jewish Agency and kept his troops at Latrun.

In the 1949 ceasefire agreement, the fort remained a salient
Salients, re-entrants and pockets
A salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. The salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops occupying the salient vulnerable. The enemy's line facing a salient is referred to as a re-entrant...

 under Jordanian control
Rule of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan
The West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan for a period of nearly two decades starting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1950, the British extended formal recognition to the union between the Hashemite Kingdom and of that part of Palestine under Jordanian occupation and control -...

, which was in turn surrounded by a perimeter of no man's land
No man's land
No man's land is a term for land that is unoccupied or is under dispute between parties that leave it unoccupied due to fear or uncertainty. The term was originally used to define a contested territory or a dumping ground for refuse between fiefdoms...

. Under the cease-fire agreement, Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 was not to disrupt Israeli travelers using this road; in practice, constant sniper attacks led Israel to build a bypass road around the bulge.

The Arab residents of Latrun were evacuated to Imwas
Imwas was a Palestinian Arab village located southeast of the city of Ramla and from Jerusalem in the Latrun salient of the West Bank. Often identified with the biblical Emmaus, over the course of two millennia, Imwas was intermittently inhabited and was ruled by the Romans , Arab caliphates,...

 in 1949 as a result of the war and Latrun's location on the 1949 armistice line
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...


Since the Six-Day War

In the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 in 1967, Latrun was captured by the Israeli Defense Forces, and the main-road to Jerusalem was re-opened and made safe for travel. The villages of Imwas
Imwas was a Palestinian Arab village located southeast of the city of Ramla and from Jerusalem in the Latrun salient of the West Bank. Often identified with the biblical Emmaus, over the course of two millennia, Imwas was intermittently inhabited and was ruled by the Romans , Arab caliphates,...

, Yalo
Yalo was a Palestinian Arab village located 13 kilometres southeast of Ramla. Identified by Edward Robinson as the ancient Canaanite city of Aijalon, after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Jordan formally annexed Yalo along with the rest of the West Bank...

 and Bayt Nuba were razed, their residents taking refuge in the West Bank and Jordan. Canada Park
Canada Park
Canada Park is a national park stretching over 7,000 dunams, mostly in the West Bank, with a portion in the region that was a no man's land before 1967 and incorporated into Israel in 1967. It is maintained by the Jewish National Fund of Canada...

 was established on the land.

The Tegart Fort was turned into the Yad La-Shiryon
Yad La-Shiryon
Yad La-Shiryon is Israel's official memorial site for fallen soldiers from the armored corps, as well as one of the most diverse tank museums in the world. The cornerstone for Yad La-Shiryon was laid on...

 memorial for fallen soldiers of the Israeli Armored Corps and a Museum was established there. The outdoor display includes 110 tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, including the Merkava
The Merkava is a main battle tank used by the Israel Defense Forces. The tank began development in 1974 and was first introduced in 1978. Four main versions of the tank have been deployed. It was first used extensively in the 1982 Lebanon War...

 and T-72
The T-72 is a Soviet-designed main battle tank that entered production in 1970. It is developed directly from Obyekt-172, and shares parallel features with the T-64A...

 tanks. Other notables in the outdoor area include a large tank successfully mounted high atop a former British water tower, a collection of innovative mobile bridges constructed by the IDF, and a long, engraved commemorative wall bearing the names of Armored Corps soldiers killed in defense of the country. The deeply pocked outer walls of the actual fort, itself, are a reminder of the building's wartime past and its use by the Arab Legion. The museum also features a large amphitheater, an auditorium, and has photos, poetry, paintings and cartoons on display, as well as a synagogue. Screenings are held regularly, showing both historical film footage and more recent tributes to Israelis injured and fallen. There is also an accessible computerized record of all the fallen Israeli tank soldiers.


Landmarks in the Latrun area of Israel are the Trappist Monastery and Mini Israel
Mini Israel
Mini Israel is a miniature park located near Latrun, Israel in the Ayalon Valley. Opened in November 2002, the site contains miniature replicas of hundreds of buildings and landmarks in Israel...

, a park with scale models of historic buildings around Israel. Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) is a joint Jewish-Arab community founded on a hilltop south of Latrun. The International Center for the Study of Bird Migration (ICSBM) is also located at Latrun, adjacent to the Israeli Armored Corps Memorial and Museum, Yad La-Shiryon
Yad La-Shiryon
Yad La-Shiryon is Israel's official memorial site for fallen soldiers from the armored corps, as well as one of the most diverse tank museums in the world. The cornerstone for Yad La-Shiryon was laid on...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.