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Plan Dalet, or Plan D, (Hebrew: תוכנית ד'‎, Tokhnit dalet) was a plan worked out by the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group and the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, in Palestine in autumn 1947 to spring 1948. Its purpose is much debated. According to Yoav Gelber and Benny Morris, it was a contingency plan for defending a nascent Jewish state from invasion.[1] According to other historians such as Walid Khalidi and Ilan Pappe, its purpose was to conquer as much of Palestine, and to expel as many Palestinians, as possible.[2]



Palestinian territories 1948 Palestinian exodus
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Main articles
1948 Palestinian exodus

1947-48 civil war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
1948 Palestine War
Causes of the exodus
Depopulated areas
Nakba Day
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Present absentee
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British Mandate of Palestine
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Israeli-Palestinian conflict history
New Historians
Palestine · Plan Dalet
1947 partition plan · UNRWA

Key incidents
Battle of Haifa
Deir Yassin massacre
Exodus from Lydda

Notable writers
Aref al-Aref · Yoav Gelber
Efraim Karsh · Walid Khalidi
Nur Masalha · Benny Morris
Ilan Pappe · Tom Segev
Avraham Sela · Avi Shlaim

Related categories/lists
Villages depopulated
before 1948 Arab-Israeli War

Villages depopulated
during 1948 Arab–Israeli War

Related templates
Arab-Israeli conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On November 29 1947 the UN voted to approve the Partition Plan for Palestine for ending the British Mandate and creating an Arab state and a Jewish state. In the immediate aftermath of the United Nations' approval of the Partition plan, the explosions of joy amongst the Jewish community were counterbalanced by the expression of discontent amongst the Arab community. On the day after the vote, a spate of Arab attacks left seven Jews dead and scores more wounded. Shooting, stoning, and rioting continued apace in the following days. Fighting began almost as soon as the plan was approved, beginning with the Arab Jerusalem Riots of 1947. Soon after, violence broke out and became more and more prevalent. Murders, reprisals, and counter-reprisals came fast on each other's heels, resulting in dozens of victims killed on both sides in the process. The sanguinary impasse persisted as no force intervened to put a stop to the escalating cycles of violence.

From January onwards, operations became increasingly militarized, with the intervention of a number of regiments of the Arab Liberation Army (consisting of volunteers from Arab countries) inside Palestine, each active in a variety of distinct sectors around the different coastal towns. They consolidated their presence in Galilee and Samaria.[3] Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni came from Egypt with several hundred men of the Army of the Holy War. Having recruited a few thousands of volunteers, al-Husayni organised the blockade of the 100,000 Jewish residents of Jerusalem.[4] To counter this, the Yishuv authorities tried to supply the city with convoys of up to 100 armoured vehicles, but the operation became more and more impractical as the number of casualties in the relief convoys surged. By March, Al-Hussayni's tactic had paid off. Almost all of Haganah's armoured vehicles had been destroyed, the blockade was in full operation, and hundreds of Haganah members who had tried to bring supplies into the city were killed.[5] The situation for those who dwelt in the Jewish settlements in the highly-isolated Negev and North of Galilee was even more critical.

This situation caused the USA to withdraw their support for the Partition plan, thus encouraging the Arab League to believe that the Palestinians, reinforced by the Arab Liberation Army, could put an end to partition. The British, on the other hand, decided on the 7 February 1948, to support the annexation of the Arab part of Palestine by Transjordan.[6]

The Plan

Ben-Gurion reorganised Haganah and made conscription obligatory. Every Jewish man and woman in the country had to receive military training. Military equipment was procured from stockpiles from the Second World War and from Czechoslovakia and was brought in Operation Balak. Ben-Gurion invested Yigal Yadin with the responsibility to come up with a plan in preparation for the announced intervention of the Arab states. The result of his analysis was Plan Dalet, which was put in place from the start of April onwards. The adoption of Plan Dalet marked the second stage of the war, in which Haganah passed from the defensive to the offensive.

In this plan the Haganah also started the transformation from an underground organization into a regular army. The reorganization included the formation of brigades and front commands. The stated goals included in addition to the reorganization, gaining control of the areas of the planned Jewish state as well as areas of Jewish settlements outside its borders. The control would be attained by fortifying strongholds in the surrounding areas and roads, conquering Arab villages which are close to Jewish settlements and occupying British bases and police stations (from which the British were withdrawing).

The introduction of the plan states[7]:

a) The objective of this plan is to gain control of the areas of the Hebrew state and defend its borders. It also aims at gaining control of the areas of Jewish settlements and concentrations which are located outside the borders (of the Hebrew state) against regular, semi-regular, and small forces operating from bases outside or inside the state.

Later on the plan states : f) Generally, the aim of this plan is not an operation of occupation outside the borders of the Hebrew state. However, concerning enemy bases lying directly close to the borders which may be used as springboards for infiltration into the territory of the state, these must be temporarily occupied and searched for hostiles according to the above guidelines, and they must then be incorporated into our defensive system until operations cease.

In Section 3b4 the plan prescribes offensive operations to be carried out to consolidate the defensive system:

Mounting operations against enemy population centers located inside or near our defensive system in order to prevent them from being used as bases by an active armed force. These operations can be divided into the following categories:
Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.
Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.
The villages which are emptied in the manner described above must be included in the fixed defensive system and must be fortified as necessary.
In the absence of resistance, garrison troops will enter the village and take up positions in it or in locations which enable complete tactical control. The officer in command of the unit will confiscate all weapons, wireless devices, and motor vehicles in the village. In addition, he will detain all politically suspect individuals.

Execution of the plan

The first operation, named Nachshon, consisted of lifting the blockade on Jerusalem. 1500 men from Haganah's Givati brigade and Palmach's Harel brigade conducted sorties to free up the route to the city between 5 April and 20 April. The operation was successful, and enough foodstuffs to last 2 months were trucked into to Jerusalem for distribution to the Jewish population.[8] The success of the operation was assisted by the death of Al-Hassayni in combat. During this time, and independently of Haganah or the framework of Plan Dalet, irregular troops from Irgun and Lehi formations massacred a large number of Arabs at Deir Yassin, an event which, though publicly deplored and criticized by the principal Jewish authorities, had a deep impact on the morale of the Palestinian population.

At the same time, April 4-14, the first large-scale operation of the Arab Liberation Army ended in a "débâcle", having been roundly defeated at Mishmar HaEmek[9], coinciding with the loss of their Druze allies through defection.[10]

Within the framework of the establishment of Jewish territorial continuity foreseen by Plan Dalet, the forces of Haganah, Palmach and Irgun intended to conquer mixed zones. Palestinian society was shaken. Tiberias, Haifa, Safed, Beisan, Jaffa and Acre fell, resulting in the flight of more than 250,000 Palestinians.[11]

The British had, at that time, essentially withdrawn their troops. The situation pushed the leaders of the neighboring Arab states to intervene, but their preparation was not finalised, and they could not assemble sufficient forces to turn the tide of the war. The majority of Palestinian hopes lay with the Arab Legion of Transjordan's monarch, King Abdullah I, but he had no intention of creating a Palestinian-run state, since he hoped to annex as much of the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine as he could.

In preparation for the offensive, Haganah successfully launched Operations Yiftah[12] and Ben-'Ami[13] to secure the Jewish settlements of Galilee, and Operation Kilshon, which created a united front around Jerusalem.

Outcome of the plan

The Plan's execution lasted about six weeks, until the Declaration of Independence of Israel and the invasion of Palestine by the Arab neighboring countries, which marks the beginning of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In these six weeks the Yishuv's position has changes dramatically. About 100 Arab villages were conquered and almost all Jewish settlements enjoyed territorial continuity, with the notable exception of Jerusalem. Many Arab leaders left the country and local leadership has collapsed. On the Jewish side, the number of those killed during the execution of the plan was 1,253, where 500 of them were civilians.

Palestinian narrative

Walid Khalidi (General Secretary of the Institute for Palestine Studies) offered this interpretation in an address to the American Committee on Jerusalem:

As is witnessed by the Haganah's Plan Dalet, the Jewish leadership was determined to link the envisaged Jewish state with the Jerusalem corpus separatum. But the corpus separatum lay deep in Arab territory, in the middle of the envisaged Palestinian state, so this linking up could only be done militarily.

A group of Israeli historians commonly known as "New Historians" have subscribed to the Palestinian interpretation of Plan Dalet. Benny Morris asserts that:

The essence of the plan was the clearing of hostile and potentially hostile forces out of the interior of the territory of the prospective Jewish State, establishing territorial continuity between the major concentrations of Jewish population and securing the future State's borders before, and in anticipation of, the invasion [by Arab states]. The Haganah regarded almost all the villages as actively or potentially hostile[14]
[Plan Dalet] constituted a strategic-doctrinal and carte blanche for expulsions [from villages that resisted or might threaten the Yishuv] by front, brigade, district and battalion commanders (who in each case argued military necessity) and it gave commanders, post facto, formal, persuasive cover for their actions.[15]

Another "New Historian" Ilan Pappé goes even further:

...this fourth and last blueprint spelled it out clearly and unambiguously: the Palestinians had to go....The aim of the plan was in fact the destruction of both rural and urban areas of Palestine.[16]

According to the French historian Henry Laurens, the importance of the military dimension of plan Dalet becomes clear by comparing the operations of the Jordanian and the Egyptian armies. The ethnical homogeneity of the coastal area, obtained by the expulsions of the Palestinians eased the halt of the Egyptian advance, while Jewish Jerusalem, located in an Arab population area, was encircled by Jordanian forces.[17]

Operations of Plan Dalet

Operation Start date Objective Result
Operation Nachshon 1 April Carve out a corridor connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Successful
Operation Harel 15 April A continuation of Nachshon but centered specifically on Arab villages near Latrun Failed
Operation Bi'ur Hametz 21 April Capture Haifa Successful
Operation Yevusi 27 April Break the siege on Jerusalem Failed
Operation Hametz 27 April Capture Jaffa Successful
Operation Yiftach 28 April Consolidate control of all the eastern Galilee Successful
Operation Matateh 3 May Clear out Arab forces between Tiberias and eastern Galilee Successful
Operation Maccabi 7 May Clear out Arab forces near Latrun and penetrate into Ramallah district Failed
Operation Gideon 11 May Clear out Arab forces in the Beit She'an valley area Successful
Operation Barak 12 May Clear out Arab forces in the northern Negev Stopped because of Egypt invasion
Operation Ben'Ami 14 May Clear out Arab forces in Acre Successful
Operation Kilshon 14 May Clear out Arab forces in the New City of Jerusalem Successful
Operation Schfifon 14 May Break the siege on the Jewish Quarter in the old city of Jerusalem Failed


  1. ^ reported by Jeff Weintraub
  2. ^ Khalidi, Walid. 'Plan Dalet: Master Plan for the Conquest of Palestine'; Pappe, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
  3. ^ Yoav Gelber (2006), pp.51-56
  4. ^ Dominique Lapierre et Larry Collins (1971), chap.7, pp.131-153
  5. ^ Benny Morris (2003), p.163
  6. ^ Henry Laurens (2005), p.83
  7. ^ See translation by Walid Khalidi here
  8. ^ Dominique Lapierre et Larry Collins (1971), pp.369-381
  9. ^ Benny Morris (2003), pp.242-243
  10. ^ Benny Morris (2003), p.242
  11. ^ Henry Laurens (2005), pp.85-86
  12. ^ Benny Morris (2003), pp.248-252
  13. ^ Benny Morris (2003), pp.252-254
  14. ^ Morris, 2004, 'The Birth ... Revisited', p. 164
  15. ^ Morris, 2004, 'The Birth ... Revisited', p. 165
  16. ^ Pappe, 2006, 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine', p. xii
  17. ^ Henry Laurens, Paix et guerre au Moyen-Orient, Armand Colin, 2005, p.92.

See also


External links



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