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Operation Barak (Hebrew: ‎, Mivtza Barak, lit. Operation Lightening) was a Haganah offensive launched just before the end of the British Mandate in Palestine. It was part of Plan Dalet. Its objective was to capture villages North of Gaza in anticipation of the arrival of the Egyptian army. It was undertaken by the newly formed Giv'ati brigade, commander Shimon Avidan.

Contents

Background

Operational orders defined the Giv'ati brigades objectives as: "To deny enemy a base ... creating general panic and breaking his moral ... cause a wandering of the inhabitants of the smaller settlements in the area." Commander Avidan's instructions were: "You will determine alone, in consultation with your Arab affair advisers and Intelligence Service officer, villages in your zone should be occupied, cleaned up or destroyed." Avidan preferred the latter option.[1]
As a prelude the Giv'ati brigade's first action took place on 4 May 1948 when the brigade occupied 'Aqir, south west of al-Ramle, population 2,480.[2]

Operation

The offensive was launched on 9 May with Bayt Daras being subjected to mortar bombardment prior to being occupied. Subsequently village houses were blown up. A second round of attacks were launched on 15 May.[3]

Aftermath

Two months later the Giv'ati brigade carried out a further operation in this area capturing at least 16 villages and creating 'more than 20,000' refugees.[4]

Arab communities captured during Operation Barak

Name Date Defending forces Brigade Population
'Aqir 4 May 1948 'hostages taken' Giv'ati 2,480
Qatra 6 May 1948 villagers Giv'ati 1,210
Bayt Darra 10 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 2,750
'Arab Suqrir 10 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 390
Barqa 10-13 May n/a Giv'ati 890
Burayr 12 May 1948 n/a Negev 2,740
Al-Sawafir al-Shamaliyya 12 May 1948 n/a n/a 680
Bashshit 12 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 1,620
Khubbayza 12-14 May 1948 n/a IZL 290
Najd 13 May 1948 n/a Negev 620
Al-Batani al-Sharqi 13 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 650
Abu Shusha 14 May 1948 n/a
'population fled'
Giv'ati 870
Al-Na'ani 14 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 2,060
inc. 590 Jews
Al-Qubab 15 May 1948 n/a n/a 1,980
Simsim 15 May 1948 n/a Negev 1,360
inc. 70 Jews
Al-Maghar 15 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 1,740
Al-Sawafir al-Sharqiyya 18 May 1948 n/a Givati 970
Al Sawafir al Gharbiyya 18 May 1948 n/a n/a 1,030
Sarafand al-'Amar 19-20 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati
2nd Battalion
1,950
Sarafand al-Kharab n/a n/a n/a 1,040
Al-Qubayba 27 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 1,720
Zarnuqa 27 May 1948 n/a Giv'ati 2,620
inc. 240 Jews
Al-Nabi Rubin[5] 1 June 1948 n/a Giv'ati 1,420
Yibna 4 June 1948 n/a "after a brief fight" 5,420
+ 1,500 nomads
Yasur n/a n/a Giv'ati
1st battalion
1,070
Khirbat Lid n/a n/a n/a 640

References

  1. ^ Morris, pages 126 and 127: "Avidan apparently wanted only empty villages."
  2. ^ 'All that remains'. page 360. Quotes New York Times as estimating the Haganah force as being 400 strong.
  3. ^ All that remains. pages 87, 395. Morris, pages 126, 127.
  4. ^ Morris, pages 212,213. reference given as Giv'ati Brigade's official history (in Hebrew).
  5. ^ Not same as village of same name in Acre district.

Bibliography

  • Walid Khalidi, All That Remains, ISBN 0 88728 224 5. Uses 1945 census for population figures.
  • Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949,ISBN 0 521 33028 9.
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