Latrun ( _ar. اللطرون, "al-Latrun"; _he. לטרון) is a strategic hilltop in the Ayalon Valley overlooking the road to Jerusalem. It is located 15 kilometers west of Jerusalem and 14 kilometers southeast of Ramla.


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 stronghold in the area. [ Latrun ] ] The other is that it is named for the good thief who was crucified alongside Jesus (Lucas 23:40-43).


Biblical era

In the Bible, the Ayalon Valley was the site of a battle in which Joshua defeated the Amorites (Joshua 10:1-11). Judah Maccabee established his camp here in preparation for battle with the Greeks, who were camped in Emmaus. As described in the Book of Maccabees, 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 provided the Jewish forces with the first major victory in the long revolt, ultimately leading to more than a century of Jewish independence under the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty.

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.

Ottoman era

In 1890, a monastery was established at Latrun by French monks of the Trappist order. The monks established a vineyard and today produce a variety of wines. During World War I, the monks were expelled by the Turks and the monastery was destroyed. The monks returned in 1927 and built the current building. The clock tower of the church dates from 1954. [,GGLD:2006-01,GGLD:en] Walid Khalidi describes the small village of al-Latrun established in the late 19th century by villagers from nearby Emmaus.

1948 Arab-Israeli war

Following the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, the British authorities built a number of police forts (named Tegart forts after their designer [Note that the forts commonly called "Taggart" forts in Israel are named after Sir Charles "Tegart" - a misspelling apparently from transliteration of the name from English to Hebrew and then back to English.] ) in various locations; Latrun was chosen due to its strategic significance, particularly its dominant position above the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road.

The road from the coastal plain to Jerusalem was blocked after the British withdrew and handed the fort over to the Arab Legion. The Legionnaires used the fort to shell Israeli vehicles traveling on the road below, effectively imposing a siege on Jerusalem. [ [ 1948-Israel War of Independence ] ]

On 24 May 1948, ten days after the declaration of the State of Israel, the fort was assaulted by combined forces of Israel's newly-created 7th Armoured Brigade (Israel), and a battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade. Ariel Sharon, then a platoon commander, was wounded at Latrun along with many of his soldiers. The mission, codenamed "Operation Ben Nun Alef", was unsuccessful, sustaining heavy casualties. On 1 June 1948, a second attack on the fort codenamed Ben Nun Bet", also failed, although the outer defences were breached. Many of the Israeli fighters were young Holocaust survivors who had just arrived in the country and had minimal military training. [ [ Lessons of the Battles of Latrun] MidEastWeb] The official casualty figure for both battles was 139.Fact|date=February 2008

To circumvent the blocked road, David Daniel Marcus (better known as Mickey Marcus), an American officer, ordered the construction of a makeshift camouflaged road through the seemingly impassable mountains towards Jerusalem (today a hiking trail with makers and plaques) this bypassed the main routes overlooked by Latrun. It was named the Burma Road after its emergency supply-line namesake between Kumming (China) and Lashio (Burma), improvised by the Allies in World War II. By 9 June 1948, the first supplies got through to Jerusalem, putting an end to month old Arab blockade.Fact|date=July 2008

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 Jews built an auxiliary water pipe-line of small capacity along the "Burma Road" which provided a minimum amount of water. [ [!OpenDocument UN Doc A/648] of 16 September 1948 Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte on Palestine Submitted to the Secretary-General for Transmission to the Members of the United Nations. ]

After Operation Danny, Israeli forces anticipated a Jordanian counterattack [’The ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappé p. 166] 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. [The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1947-1951 by Ilan Pappé p. 140]

Mickey Marcus was killed on 22 June 1948 by an Israeli soldier at Latrun. The events at Latrun were depicted in the 1966 film "Cast a Giant Shadow".

In the 1949 cease-fire agreement, the fort remained a salient under Jordanian control, which was in turn surrounded by a perimeter of no man's land. Under the cease-fire agreement, Jordan 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 Emmaus in 1949 as a result of the war and Latrun's location at the 1949 armistice line. [ [ All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 - Abstract] ]

ince the Six-Day War

In the Six-Day War in 1967, Latrun was captured by Israeli forces, and the main-road to Jerusalem was reopened. The villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba were evacuated and Canada Park was established on the land. [Brynen, Rex and Roula El-Rifai. "Palestinian Refugees: Challenges of Repatriation and Development." p.128 Ottawa: International Development Research Centre. ISBN 1552502317 Kirsher, Sheldon. (2007, 13 December). "Canada Park – an Israeli haven for picnickers, hikers, cyclists". Canadian Jewish News. Wood, Trish. (1991). "Park with no Peace" [TV documentary] . Toronto: the fifth estate]

Tegart fort was turned into a tank museum and a memorial for fallen soldiers of the Israeli Armored Corps, known as Yad La-Shiryon, was established there. The museum display includes 110 tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, including the Merkava and T-72 tanks. The site also has a large amphitheater, an auditorium and a synagogue. [ Official home page]


Landmarks in the Latrun area are the Trappist Monastery and Mini Israel, a park with scale models of historic buildings around Israel. [ Mini Israel] Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) is a joint Jewish-Arab community founded on a hilltop south of Latrun.



*"Latrun" (2002, ISBN 965-7130-10-7) is a novel by Ram Oren describing the two Battles of Latrun and the events surrounding them.

See also

* List of villages depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

External links

* [ Photo gallery at]
* [ Latrun tanks photo gallery] , The gallery of annotated photos of the tanks
* [ Latrun support armoured vehicles photos]
* [ Latrun monuments] , The gallery of annotated photos of the monuments at the Latrun museum dedicated to the fallen soldiers
* [ Latrun] , from the Jewish Agency for Israel
* [ al-Latrun, from]
* [ Latrun Battles] {reference only}
* [ 2 Latrun MIAs Identified 1998 {reference only}]
* [ 8 Latrun MIAS Identified 2005 {reference only}]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • LATRUN — LATRUN, historical site and crossroads in the southern Ayalon Valley, Israel, where the Judean Hills and the Shephelah meet, about 1 mi. (c. 1½ km.) S.W. of emmaus . Latrun Hill contains ruins of an Arab village and a 12th century crusader… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Latrun — 31.83555555555634.980277777778 Koordinaten: 31° 50′ 8″ N, 34° 58′ 49″ O …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Latrun —    A locality with a monastery at the foot of the Judean hills on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The monastery was founded in the 19th century by French Trappist monks. It is located at a strategic crossroads linking the Mediterranean coast …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

  • Latrun — n. area located near the Ramle Ramallah Jerusalem junction in Israel (site of an abandoned village, a Christian monastery, and a large police outpost) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Latrun-Gebiet — DMS …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Battles of Latrun (1948) — Battles of Latrun Part of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War The police fort at Latrun …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Latrun — The Battle of Latrun was a series of battles between Israeli IDF and Jordanian Arab Legion forces on the outskirts of Latrun between 25 May and 18 July 1948 during the First Arab Israeli War.In May 1948, the locale of Latrun was situated in Arab… …   Wikipedia

  • Schlachten von Latrun — Als Schlachten um Latrun bezeichnet man mehrere Gefechte zwischen den israelischen Streitkräften und der jordanischen Arabischen Legion sowie palästinensischen Milizen im Palästinakrieg. Die Kampfhandlungen dauerten mit mehreren Unterbrechungen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Abbaye de Latrun — Abbaye de Latroun Pour les articles homonymes, voir Toron. 31° 49′ 53″ N 34° 58′ 59″ E …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Toron des Chevaliers — Datei:Palestine location map.svg DMS …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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