278,253 Pages

Operation Hiram
Part of 1948 Arab–Israeli War
Saasaa 1948.jpg
IDF soldiers in Sa'sa', 30 October 1948
DateOctober 29, 1948 – October 31, 1948
LocationUpper Galilee, Israel
Result Israel captures the Upper Galilee
Belligerents
 Israel
7th Armoured Brigade
Carmeli Brigade
Golani Brigade
Oded Brigade

Arab League Arab Liberation Army

Syria Syria
Commanders and leaders
Israel Moshe Carmel Arab League Fawzi al-Qawuqji
Casualties and losses
400 Arabs killed, 550 taken prisoner,[1] 50,000 Palestinian refugees

Operation Hiram was a military operation conducted by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was led by General Moshe Carmel, and aimed at capturing the Upper Galilee region from the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) forces led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji and a Syrian battalion.[2] The operation, which lasted just 60 hours (October 29–31) ended just before the ceasefire with the neighboring Arab countries went into effect. As a result of the operation, the Upper Galilee, originally slated by the United Nations partition plan to be part of the Arab state, would be controlled by the newly formed state of Israel, and that more than 50,000 new Palestinian refugees would leave for Lebanon.[3]

Overview[edit | edit source]

Villages captured during Operation Hiram. Grid = 10km

On September 26, 1948, David Ben-Gurion told his cabinet that if fighting should be renewed in the north, then the Galilee would become "clean" [naki] and "empty" [reik] of Arabs, and implied that he had been assured of this by his generals.[4]

A Palmach unit attacks Sa'sa

Israeli machine gun position during an assault on Sa'sa

The operation was launched on the night of 28–29 October 1948, fielding four IDF brigades, the Seventh, Carmeli Brigade, Golani, and the Oded Brigade. The operational order was "to destroy the enemy in the central Galilee "pocket", to occupy the whole of the Galilee and to establish the defense line on the country´s northern border."[3] On October 29, Weitz, learning about the start of the operation, sent Yigael Yadin a note urging that the army should expel the "refugees" from the newly conquered areas.[5]

The Ground offensive was preceded by bombing raids targeting Tarshiha, Jish and Sa'sa from the 22 October, using B-17s and C-47s (converted for bombing role). The heaviest night of bombing was 29/30 October when 13 missions dropped 21 tons of bombs on the seven villages. The bombardment of Tarshiha triggered the mass flight after 24 of the inhabitants were killed and approximately 60 were buried under rubble.[6]

The initial thrust was carried out by the Seventh Brigade advancing from Safad. The Seventh Brigade occupied Qaddita on 29 October, Meirun and then Safsaf and Jish. In the 79th Battalion's report, the battles for Safsaf and Jish were described as "difficult" and "cruel" (achzari). One IDF report said "150–200" Arabs, "including a number of civilians" died in the battle for Jish,[7] while after Safsaf had been captured, brigades committed the Safsaf massacre.

From Jish, the 72nd and 79th battalions then turned west to take Sa'sa. After taking Sa'sa the Israeli forces then turned northwest taking Kfar Birem, Saliha and by the afternoon of the 30 October were at al Malikiya.[6]

Simultaneously, the Golani Brigade engaged in diversionary tactics in the direction of the village of Illaboun. The Carmeli Brigade, which was assigned to counter attacks from Syria and Lebanon, crossed the border into Lebanon, captured 15 villages, and reached the Litani River.[8]

Ceasefire was scheduled to commence at 11:00 hours, October 31, 1948. The same day, at 7:30 in the morning, Major General Moshe Carmel ordered his brigades and district commanders "to continue the clearing operations inside the Galilee". In a cable dated 10:00 hours the same day Carmel ordered his brigades and district commanders: "Do all in your power for a quick and immediate clearing [tihur] of the conquered areas of all the hostile elements in line with the orders that have been issued[.] The inhabitants of the areas conquered should be assisted to leave." This order was apparently issued after Carmel had met with Ben-Gurion the same day.[9]

Villagers fleeing Galilee towards Lebanon, October/November 1948

On 31 October and 1 November 1948 the Hula massacre took place at Hula (Hule). The village had been captured on October 24 by the Carmeli Brigade without any resistance at all. Between 35 and 58 captured men were reportedly shot down in a house which was later blown up on top of them.[10]

At the end of this lightning attack, Israeli forces reached the Hiram Junction, north of Safed. The siege of Manara was lifted, Qawuqji's army fled to Lebanon, and the roads crossing the Upper Galilee were secured. With the Galilee under Israeli control, the IDF established a defensive line along the Litani before withdrawing to the Lebanese border under the terms of the 1949 Armistice Agreements.

The Israeli Air Force bombings caused considerable damage to the villages in the area. Ilan Pappe gives the example of the four villages: Rama, Suhmata, Malkiyya and Kfar Bir'im. He states that out of the four 'the only village to remain intact was Rama. The other three were occupied and destroyed'.[11] Very few villagers were allowed to stay in their homes and many were imprisoned or expelled to Lebanon and elsewhere. Ilan Pappe claims that the 'Hebrew noun tihur (cleansing) assumed new meanings' during this time period. He argues that although 'it still described, as before, the total expulsion and destruction of a village, it could now also represent other activities, such as selective search and expulsion operations'.[12]

The name is a reference to Hiram I, the Biblical king of Tyre. He was instrumental in the construction of the First Temple of Jerusalem.

Massacres[edit | edit source]

Around 10 massacres occurred during this operation.

According to Morris, the atrocities committed during Operation Hiram clearly embarrassed the IDF and Israeli officials who were soon forced to respond to Arab and United Nations charges in various forums. The main official Israeli response was a flat or qualified denial that atrocities had taken place.[13]

Arab communities captured in Operation Hiram[edit | edit source]

Name Population
1945 census[14]
Date Resistance Brigade Notes
Al-Nabi Rubin Early October 1948 none n/a Hamlet depopulated and destroyed
Mirun 290 October 29, 1948 militia 'company' 7th Brigade
Carmeli Brigade
Village depopulated and destroyed
Safsaf 910 October 29, 1948 ALA 2nd Battalion 7th Brigade[15] see Safsaf massacre. Village depopulated and destroyed.
Jish October 29, 1948 Syrian battalion 7th Brigade[15] 10 POWs + "a number of" civilians executed.[15] Inhabitants, majority Muslim, expelled. The town later re-populated with Christian refugees from neighbouring villages.
Tarshiha 3,840 October 29, 1948 Villagers and members of ALA Oded Brigade By December around 700 villagers had returned to their homes, over 100 of whom were deported January 1949. Buildings re-populated with Jewish immigrants.
Sa'sa 1,130 October 30, 1948 none 7th Brigade
Druze unit
Alleged killings of civilians. However, the relevant files remain closed to historians.[16] Town depopulated and destroyed.
Suhmata October 30, 1948 none Golani Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Dayr al-Qassi 2,300 including Fassuta and al-Mansura October 30, 1948 none n/a Town depopulated and destroyed.
Dayshum 590 October 30, 1948 N/A 7th Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Eilabun October 30, 1948 ALA force Golani see Eilabun massacre. Town's population expelled but negotiated permission to return during summer 1949.
Fara 320 October 30, 1948 N/A 7th Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
al-Farradiyya 670 October 30, 1948 N/A Golani Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Fassuta 2,300 including Dayr al-Qasi and al-Mansura October 30, 1948 Population allowed to remain in their homes,
Ghabbatiyya 60 October 30, Arab Liberation Army N/A Hamlet depopulated and destroyed.
Kafr 'Inan 360 October 30, 1948 none Golani Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed
Marus October 30, 1948 none 7th Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
al Ras al Ahmar 620 October 30, 1948 'empty' 7th Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Sabalan, Safad 70 October 30, 1948 N/A Golani Brigade, 1st Battalion Hamlet depopulated and destroyed.
Saliha 1,070 30 October 1948 none 7th Brigade[15] Documented 60–94 killed.[17] Village depopulated and destroyed.
Kafr Bir'im 710 October 31, 1948 'surrendered' N/A Village depopulated and destroyed.
Arab al-Samniyya 200 October 30–31, 1948 none 7th, Carmeli, Golani, Oded Village depopulated and destroyed.
Iqrit 490 October 31, 1948 none Oded Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Iribbin, Khirbat 360 October 31, 1948 none Oded Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
Hula October 31, 1948 Village in Lebanon. See Hula massacre
Mi'ilya 900 October 31, 1948 On 1 November the local IDF commander allowed the villagers to return to their homes. In March 1949 25 persons deported for passing information to the enemy.
Al-Mansura, Acre 2,300 including Fassuta and Dayr al-Qasi 29–31 October 1948 n/a n/a Town depopulated and destroyed.
Hurfeish Druze 29–31 October Town's population allowed to remain in their homes.
Tarbikha 1,000 29–31 October 1948 none Oded Brigade Town depopulated and destroyed.
Suruh 29–31 October 1948 none n/a Village depopulated and destroyed.
Al Bi'na 830 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Kuakab 490 29–31 October 1948 n/a Villagers surrender and remained after the war. Town exists today.
Kafr Manda 1,260 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Sakhnin 1,891 (1931 census) 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Arraba 1,800 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Deir Hanna 750 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Maghar 2,140 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some inhabitants remained after the war. Town exists today.
Rihaniya n/a Circassian 29–31 October 1948 n/a Some villagers remained after the war. Town exists today.
Alma 950 29–31 October 1948 n/a Villagers expelled and buildings demolished.

Brigades participating in Operation Hiram[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Karsh (2002), p 68
  2. Institute for Palestine Studies Morris, Benny "Operation Hiram Revisited: A Correction" in 28, no. 2 (Win. 99): 68–76.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Morris (2004), p 473
  4. Morris (2004), p 463
  5. Morris (2004), p. 463–464
  6. 6.0 6.1 Morris (2004) page 473
  7. Morris (2004) page 473, 474
  8. Morris (2004) page 474
  9. Morris (2004), p 464
  10. Morris (2004), p.481, 487, 501, 502.
  11. Pappe (2006), page 181
  12. Pappe (2006), page 182
  13. For examples, see Spector to Baruck, 12 Nov. 1948, in which the IDF liaison officer, Spector, reports to his commander: "In relation to the 13 killed [in the Eilabun massacre ], I proved [sic] that the army was not in the village at the time...." Cited in Morris (2004), p. 481, 501
  14. 'All That Remains'. ISBN 0-88728-224-5. (1992).
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Morris (2004), p.481
  16. Morris (2004), p. 481, 501, 503.
  17. Morris, p. 487

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.