Pigeon trainers who dispatched carrier pigeons for the Palmach and Haganah, the Yishuv's military forces, were invited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Israel Defense Forces Teleprocessing Branch at Tel Aviv University last Thursday. Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel, head of the Teleprocessing Branch, Maj. Gen. Ami Shafran, and chief teleprocessing officer, Brig. Gen. Nahum Baslo, were all in attendance. The pigeon dispatchers were invited after an article published in Haaretz in December ("Group seeks to preserve IDF pigeons' dovecote from 1948") featured an IDF dovecote, apparently the last of its kind, which was found on Kibbutz Givat Brenner.
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The Teleprocessing Branch turned to the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites to find former pigeon trainers. "With us today are special guests who represent that period, those unique days of the War of Independence," said Shafran at the convention. "The pigeon trainers from kibbutzim Ramat Rachel, Beit Hashita, Mishmar Hashiva and Negba, and from the dovecote at Givat Brenner, are some of those who laid down the [nation's] infrastructure, and they are a part of the strong foundation on which our present capabilities were built."
Shaul Sapir, 82, who served in the Palmach in the Givat Brenner dovecote from 1944 onward, discussed the connection of the pigeon trainers with the Teleprocessing Branch. "Up until now there was nothing, zero," he said.
Sapir, who participated in the convention on Thursday, said that he was imprisoned for three and a half months after the British caught him with carrier pigeons in his bag after Night of the Bridges (a Haganah operation, which demolished all roads and railroad bridges in Palestine in June 1946).
Rachel Savorai, 82, was also a pigeon trainer at the Palmach dovecote in Ramat Rachel in early 1946. She went on to serve on Kibbutz Sarid and participated in the Night of the Bridges operation.
"It's nice that they're mentioning the pigeons. The dovecotes of carrier pigeons were scattered in the Palmach camps in the kibbutzim and were connected with the Haganah's carrier pigeons," she said.
The deputy director of the central district in the Council for the Preservation of Heritage Sites, Tal Ben Nun, said: "We hope for productive cooperation with the Teleprocessing Branch in the restoration of the dovecote on Givat Brenner."