They planned the ambush for an entire month, regularly watching the house on the hill. They knew who came and who went, or if anyone new had joined. It was all meticulously planned. The purpose of the operation was to sever the daily routine of the group of terrorists entrenched in that house. Those terrorists, at times covered by heavy darkness, and other times slipping through elaborate underground tunnels, were able to reach the heart of Tel Aviv, and even engaged in head-on combat with soldiers who often ambushed them.
This group of terrorists was notorious not only for its success with terrorist attacks, but also for its squads’ ability to return safely. A couple of weeks ago, they killed five civilians, all members of the same family, and this week three Givati soldiers were killed in frontal combat. The entire squad managed to sneak away through one of the tunnels; but helplessness and frustration are luxuries an army cannot afford. In the special General Staff meeting convened following recent events, there was little doubt that everything must be done in order to sever the murderous activity and restore security. Many commanding officers, Yehonatan included, insisted on taking command of the operation. The higher command knew that this was no ordinary group of terrorists on that hill, but rather a highly trained and professional squad, equipped with cutting-edge and lethal weapons, and therefore they had to choose carefully the best person for this mission. Once the General Staff commanders were left alone to decide, and Yehonatan’s name came up, all hands were raised, and it was unanimously decided to impose the heavy burden of operation “Five Souls” on Yehonatan’s weary shoulders.
After rigorous planning and training, Yehonatan finally received the order: operation “Five Souls” is a go. The briefing was seemingly simple: in a short aerial line from the house on the hill, there is an abandoned house. Yehonatan’s soldiers are to stay there, with the clear knowledge that the professional squad will quickly discover them. In essence, they will serve as bait and lure the squad out of the house through the tunnels. After a short exchange of fire, the swift appearance of choppers will take the terrorists by surprise. The helicopters will then take over the fight, in order to prevent frontal combat between the soldiers and the terrorists. Yehonatan’s goal was zero casualties – everyone returns home safely, all of his kids.