Operation Yoav


Operation Yoav

Operation Yoav (also called Operation Ten Plagues or Operation Yo'av) was an Israeli military operation carried out from 15–22 October 1948 in the Negev Desert, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Its goal was to drive a wedge between the Egyptian forces along the coast and the BeershebaHebronJerusalem road and ultimately to conquer the whole Negev. Operation Yoav was headed by the Southern Front commander Yigal Allon. The operation was named after Yitzhak Dubnow, codenamed "Yoav" by his commanders in the Palmach. Dubnow, a senior Palmach officer, was charged with planning and leading the defense of the kibbutzim Negba and Yad Mordechai. Dubnow was killed in an air raid on Kibbutz Negba shortly after Egyptian forces began their offensive on Israel's southern front.

Israeli soldiers capturing Beersheba

Contents

Background

In the central and northern parts of Palestine, the Israelis had managed to make substantial territorial gains before the second truce of the war went into effect. But the southern Negev Desert, allocated to a Jewish state in the 1947 Partition plan for Palestine, was still under Egyptian control. Despite the second truce, the Egyptians denied Jewish convoys passage through to the Negev, and captured positions beyond the truce demarcation lines.

Operation Ten Plagues (after the punishment God sent to the Egyptians for holding the Israelis captive in the Old Testament) was made and approved at a Cabinet Session 6 October 1948. The operation came after at 14 October 1948 when a convoy consisting of 16 trucks was fired on as it passed through Egyptian positions.

Ralph Bunche who had become UN mediator after the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte said:

[The Israeli] military action of the last few days has been on a scale which could only be undertaken after considerable preparation, and could scarcely be explained as simple retaliatory action for an attack on a [Israeli] convoy.

History

The force consisted of three infantry brigades, the Negev Brigade, the Givati Brigade, and the Yiftach Brigade, an armored battalion from the 8th Armored Brigade and the largest artillery formation that had been available to the IDF at the time. On October 18 the Oded Brigade also joined in the operation. In the evening of October 15 the Israeli Air Force bombed Gaza, Majdal (now Ashkelon), Beersheba and Beit Hanoun. A battalion of the Yiftach Brigade mined the railroad between El-Arish and Rafah and various roads in the Gaza area, also driving a wedge into the road. Two battalions of the Givati Brigade drove south east of Iraq al-Manshiyya, thus cutting the road between al-Faluja and Beit Jibrin. Beit Jibrin was captured by the 52 Battalion of Givati and the 8th Brigade on October 23.[1]

In the early morning hours of October 21, the Negev Brigade and 8th Armored Brigade laid siege to the city from the west. Another force joined them from the north. Even though in the city proper, the Egyptian forces outnumbered the Israeli 500 to 60, they surrendered after being shelled by an anti-tank gun which was smuggled into the city at 08:00. The conquest of Beersheba was named Operation Moshe, after Moshe Albert, who fell defending the besieged Beit Eshel.[2]

While a truce was ordered for 15:00 hours on 22 October, action in the days immediately following the operation, and associated with it, continued.[3]

According to Jewish historian Benny Morris, soldiers from the 8th Brigade carried out a massacre at al-Dawayima.[4][5][6]After the Egyptians retreated southward from Ashdod (October 28) and al-Majdal (November 6) to Gaza, the coastal strip down to Yad Mordechai was occupied by Israeli forces.[3] On 9 November, the Iraq Suwaydan fortress was captured and renamed the Yoav Fortress in honor of the operation[3]

Towards the end of the operation General Allon sought permission to launch an attack on the Hebron hills and into the Jericho valley. Ben Gurion refused, mainly due to a tacit agreement with King Abdullah on the division of the West Bank and the need to avoid British involvement.[7]

The United Nations Refugee Relief Project reported that the Gaza Strip's refugee population had jumped from 100,000 to 230,000 as a result of Operation Yoav.[8] This figure does not include those who fled to the Hebron Hills.[9]

Captured Arab villages

Name Date Defending forces Brigade Population (1944/45)[10]
Bayt 'Affa 2nd half of October 1948 n/a n/a 700
Bayt Tima 18 October 1948 n/a but a Saudi company
here in early July
Givati Brigade 1,060
Hulayqat 19 October 1948 Egyptian Army
600 regular soldiers
'100 killed'
Givati Brigade 420
Kawkaba 20 October 1948 Saudi Company present in June Givati Brigade 680
Dayr Sunayd 21 October 1948 Egyptian Army,
9th Battalion including
Gamal Abdel Nasser
n/a 730
Beersheba 21 October 1948 Egyptian Army 8th Armored Brigade, Negev Brigade 5,570
Zikrin 22–23 October 1948 n/a Givati Brigade 960
Kudna 22–23 October 1948 none Givati Brigade 450
'Ajjur 23 October 1948 n/a 4th Battalion, Givati Brigade 3,730
Dayr al-Dubban 23–24 October 1948 none Givati Brigade 730
Bayt Jibrin 24 October 1948 Egyptian Army Givati Brigade 2,430
Al-Qubayba 28 October 1948 none Givati or Harel Brigade 1,060
Isdud 28 October 1948 Egyptians withdrew Givati Brigade 4,910 inc. 290 Jews
al-Dawayima 29 October 1948 no organized defense 89th Battalion, 8th Brigade 3,710
Bayt Jirja 30 October 1948 n/a Givati Brigade, Negev Brigade, Yiftach Brigade 940
Al-Khalasa End of October Egyptian Army Negev Brigade n/a
Hamama 4 November 1948 Egyptian Army Givati Brigade 5,070 inc. 60 Jews
Al-Jiyya 4 November 1948 n/a Givati Brigade 1,230
Al-Jura 4 November 1948 no resistance Givati Brigade 2,420
al-Majdal 4 November 1948 Egyptian Army Givati Brigade, Negev Brigade, Yiftach Brigade 9,910
Hiribya early November 1948 Egyptian Army n/a 2,300 inc. 60 Jews
Bayt Jirja 4–5 November 1948 n/a n/a 940
Barbara 5 November 1948 n/a n/a 2,410

Participating brigades

See also

References

  1. ^ Carta Jerusalem (2003). Battle Sites in the Land of Israel. Israel: Carta. pp. 33. ISBN 965-220-494-3.  (Hebrew)
  2. ^ Carta Jerusalem (2003). Battle Sites in the Land of Israel. Israel: Carta. pp. 29–30. ISBN 965-220-494-3.  (Hebrew)
  3. ^ a b c "Israeli History: War of Independence". Israeli Weapons. http://www.israeli-weapons.com/history/war_of_independance/WarofIndependance.html. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  4. ^ Khalidi, Walid (1991). "ALL THAT REMAINS: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948", The Institute of Palestine Studies, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-88728-224-5. p.213-216
  5. ^ Morris, Benny (1987). "The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949", Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-33028-9
  6. ^ see also David Ben Gurion's diaries: entry 10 November 1948. Only published in Arabic and Hebrew. 'Rumors' that the army had 'slaughtered 70–80 persons'
  7. ^ Peri, Yoram (1983) Between battles and ballots. Israeli military in politice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 24414 5. Page 58.
  8. ^ Morris, p. 224. F.G. Beard quoted in a report from the American Charge d'affaires in Cairo to the US Secretary of State. National Archive 501 BB. Palestine/11-1648. Also describes conditions.
  9. ^ Morris, p. 221 says most of Beersheba's population fled towards the Hebron Hills - p. 219
  10. ^ Walid Khalidi, 'All That Remains', IPS, 1992, ISBN 0 88728 224 5. Population of Beersheba from 'A survey of Palestine' Vol 1, (1946-47) reprinted by IPS. ISBN 0 88728 211 3

External links


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