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Operation Hametz (Hebrew: מבצע חמץ‎, Mivtza Hametz) was a Jewish operation towards the end of the British Mandate of Palestine. It was launched at the end of April 1948 with the objective of capturing villages inland from Jaffa and establishing a blockade around the town.[1]

Contents

Background

Within 24 hours of the approval of the UN Partition Plan on November 19, 1947 Arab irregular fighters began shooting into Tel Aviv from Jaffa. In the ensuing 5 months, while the British officially maintained the Mandate, these attacks led to the deaths of over 1,000 inhabitants of Tel Aviv.[2] During the same time, 30,000 people left Jaffa, leaving a population of between 50,000 and 60,000. On the morning of 25 April 1948 the Irgun launched a full scale attack on Jaffa from Tel Aviv. Israeli historians maintain that the Haganah had no prior warning of the attack but soon after its start the Haganah and the Irgun came to an agreement whereby the Irgun troops would be under the command of local Haganah commanders. The Irgun offensive included a continuous and three day mortar bombardment of the town centre. The attack was ended by the intervention of the British who moved 4,500 troops into the town. The fighting ended on 30 April.[3]

The operation

The operation involved attacks from the north by the Alexandroni Brigade and by the Givati Brigade from the south. They met little or no resistance. The Kiryati Brigade failed in its assault on the southern Jaffa suburb of Tel al-Rish.[4]

Aftermath

By 30 April there were about 15,000 to 25,000 people left in Jaffa. The Haganah had complete control of all access into and out of the town, with the exception of a British army 'presence' at Yazur. They were allowing people to leave the town but subject to searches for weapons. The British army was escorting civilians to Lydda and al-Ramle. David Ben-Gurion recorded in his diary that when he visited Salama on the evening of 30 April all he found was 'only one old blind woman.' Most of the villages were systematically levelled in the following weeks.

Arab communities captured during Operation Hametz

Name Date Defending forces Brigade Population
Saqiya 25 April 1948 'without a fight' Alexandroni Brigade 1,100
Kafr 'Ana 29 April 1948 n/a Alexandroni Brigade 3,020
inc. 220 Jews
al-Khayriyya 29 April 1948 n/a Alexandroni Brigade 1,420
Salama, Jaffa 29 April 1948 n/a Alexandroni Brigade
Kiryati & Giv'ati Brigades
6,730
Yazur 30 April 1948 Arab Liberation Army
withdrew 28 April
Giv'ati Brigade 4,030
Bayt Dajan n/a n/a Alexandroni Brigade 3,840
Al-Safiriyya n/a n/a Alexandroni Brigade 3,070
Al-'Abbasiyya 4 May 1948
recaptured 11 June
finally taken during Operation Dani
n/a Irgun 5,650
inc. 150 Jews

References

  1. ^ Morris, page 95
  2. ^ LeBor, A. World Policy Journal Vol. 24, No. 4, Pages 61-75.
  3. ^ Morris, pages 96,99.
  4. ^ Chaim Herzog, 'The Arab-Israeli Wars'. ISBN 0 85368 367 0. Has a clear map on page 37.

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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