Beautiful Egypt 128 – «The Heroes of Sinai» – October 18, 2015

Beautiful Egypt 128 – «The Heroes of Sinai» – October 18, 2015

   In the previous article, we spoke of some heroes of the Egyptian Army who are worthy of our pride. Indeed, their love and sacrifice for Egypt have given us strength and keenness to work for our fatherland. We spoke of General Abdel Munim Riad whose martyrdom day has become the Martyrs’ Day and of Petty Officer Mohammed Fawzy Nagy Salem al-Barquqi the martyr of bombing the Port of Eilat, having done a great job on November 16, 1969. At that time, al-Barquqi was not more than twenty-eight years old! We also spoke of the heroism of some of the people of Sinai and the help they offered the Armed Forces, after which we started speaking of other heroes like:

Staff General Shafiq Merty Sidrak

   He was Commander of the first infantry division that crossed the Suez Canal, Squad 16 Infantry in the Middle Section of Sinai. He took part in combating the Tripartite Aggression, the 1967 War, the War of Attrition, and the October War. He was martyred on the fourth day of the October War. Not only was he a military hero, but an academic genius as well. He was the first to win the Order of Sinai Star.

   Shafiq Metry Sidrak was born in 1921, in al-Muti’a, Assuit. He lived in Minshat Yusuf Hanna, Shoubrakhit, Beheira. His bravery made him join the Military Academy where he outstood and was appointed staff member. He taught “Military Tactics”. Not only was he keen on acquiring more knowledge, but also he was one of the first to obtain the Military Staff Certificate as well as the Nasser Higher Military Academy Certificate with an excellent mention.

   General Sidrak’s record is full of heroism feats. During the 1967 War, he led the Infantry Squad at Abu Ujaylah in Sinai whence it plunged into a great battle in which the enemy lost a great deal of sentries and supplies. He was not negatively affected by the setback. Rather, he was confident that Egypt would prevail. During the War of Attrition, he crossed Sinai with his men through Port Said, Deversoir eastern and southward al-Ballah and al-Firdan. He fought the enemy in ambushes in 1968, 1969, and 1970, which had a devastating impact on the latter.

   In 1973, General Sidrak reached Mitla Pass with his men. The Egyptian hero was an expert in fighting with tanks in the desert.

   In the Battle of the Valley of Tears, he achieved great victories in pre-emptive as well as preventive strikes. He was sure of victory and confident in the army’s bravery. In fact, few hours before the war, he assembled his men and enticed them to plunge into the battle, saying, “Ever since Mina’s era, Egypt’s children have been waiting hopefully. Now, it is high time Egypt’s flags soared above Sinai.”

   The Battle started on October 9, 1973. Everybody was keen on fighting. But, General Sidrak was martyred while doing his duty. As he was fighting deep in Sinai, almost 14 kilometers inside, he was blown away by an Israeli projectile which killed his men as well. Thus, their names were engraved in Egypt’s history.

Sergeant Sayed Zakaria Khalil

   He is the hero who some foreign newspapers called, “the lion of Sinai”. His story remained unknown for 23 years. But it was revealed in a party attended by some diplomats among whom were the Egyptian and Israeli Ambassadors. This took place in Berlin, in 1996. God wanted the world to know this hero’s story.

   Khalil is one of the Egyptian Paratroopers. Alone, he was able to impede an entire Israeli squad after the rest of his squad had been martyred. He remained lost in the October War until the Israeli Ambassador, who had participated in the War, had produced his stuff, namely, his chain, a letter he had written to his father and some money to inscribe his name in history.

   Khalil was born in al-Bayyadiya, Luxor, in 1949. Due to his patience and perseverance, he was chosen in the Thunderbolt Corps. On October 7, 1973, Corporal Khalil (at that time) was assigned to go to the other side of Mitla, namely, Mount Jalala, to prevent the enemy from advancing and passing through the place for 24 hours in order to give our heroes a chance to cross the Suez Canal. Upon moving to the operation area, the Egyptian hero refused to take any food, asking to exchange it with ammunition. His request was approved.

   Having arrived at the required place, the soldiers spread out, after hiding and storing their ammunition. In the evening, they heard the rattle of the enemy’s tanks which were secured by a helicopter. Suddenly an anti-tank mine (AT-mine) exploded. It paralyzed the enemy, which enabled our heroes to throw bombs at them. Thus, they retreated. Yet, they returned only for a fierce battle to break out. Despite the fact of the martyrdom of some Egyptian soldiers, Khalil shot down an Israeli aircraft, thus, driving the enemy mad. They sent one hundred Israeli Paratroopers who attacked our heroes. The battles lasted for several hours. Khalil found himself alone, for all his colleagues were martyred. Yet, he did not give up. He continued moving from one place to another to use his colleagues’ weapons. No sooner had one weapon run out of ammunition, than Khalil picked up the other to fight! So much so that the enemy thought they were fighting an entire squad.

   The Israeli soldier (who became the Ambassador later) was able to reach the Egyptian hero who, surprisingly enough, was able to annihilate the former’s entire squad. He shot him dead with his gun, after which he took off the hero’s chain from his neck, his wallet out of his pocket and buried him. Then he saluted the hero by shooting twenty-one bullets in the air. The Israeli Ambassador whispers, “He was not a soldier! He was a lion. Alone, he killed dozens of our soldiers and combated our tanks!” What a great story! Stories of heroism never end in Beautiful Egypt.

General Bishop

Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center