Ed Lugech, age 18, had just graduated high school in Toronto in April 1948. Together with his cousin, Harvey Cohen then 17, they had made their way to Marseille where they boarded the cargo ship Transylvania, together with other Mahal volunteers from abroad and Jewish refugees bound for Palestine.
Arriving in Haifa on May 1, the two youths immediately joined the Palmach and were assigned to the Yiftach Brigade's First Batallion. On May 15, the Brigade assaulted the village and army base of Malkiya that controlled the main north-south artery along the Lebanese border, in an attempt to block the advance of the Arab Liberation Army and the Lebanese Army. The First Batallion overran the village but the Lebanese Army artillery immediately began shelling the Jewish companies, causing numerous casualties. The two Arab forces launched a vicious counterattack and by afternoon the batallion retreated.
The Maoz Haim platoon remained on the battlefield to block the enemy and cover the rest of the batallion's retreat. It took tremendous losses, including its commander, and by nightfall it too retreated back to Kibbutz Ramot Naftali. At least 22 dead were left behind and five were unaccounted for. The prevailing view is that the two Canadian volunteers were killed in the battle, but there are other possibilities. At the moment, neither Cohen nor Lugech are counted among the fallen in Israel's wars. Their names also do not appear on the list of Palmach fallen. However, they are on the Mahal memorial and the AACI memorial, both at Shaar Hagai.