Today in History: Operation Dani

Today in 1948, Operation Dani, one of the most important in the War of Independence, began.

Immediately after the declaration of independence of Israel, the armies of the Arab states invaded the country, and by mid-June 1948, they had been blocked by hard efforts. At this point, a month-long ceasefire was established by the United Nations, which Israel used well to build strength, organize the army, and obtain supplies. The fighting resumed in mid-July, in what that was later called ‘the Ten Days Battles’. The IDF’s main effort in the July battles focused on the center front, against the Jordanian Legion. The Israeli leadership saw the utmost importance in expanding the Jerusalem corridor (which at this stage was a single axis of movement, which can hardly be defined as an axis – the ‘Burma road’), and in conquering the main Arab cities in the region – Lod and Ramle. The operation was planned and named LRLR (in honor of the four objectives of the operation – Lod, Ramle, Latrun and Ramallah), which was later changed to “Operation Danny” (in honor of Danny Mas, commander of the Lamed Hei). The IDF slightly overestimated the legion’s power, and in preparation for the operation, launched almost four brigades into the area. The commander of the Legion, Glab Pasha, estimated that the IDF would try to attack these targets, and estimated that he could not keep hold of Lod and Ramle – and therefore focused most of his forces on the northern part of the Jerusalem corridor, on the Ramallah-Latrun route, leaving Lod and Ramla alone. The Israeli offensive began on July 10, and IDF forces easily captured Lod Airport and all the Arab settlements around it, releasing the siege on Ben-Shemen. On 11 July, they broke into Lod, in a brutal battle that killed many civilians; the Legion forces abandoned the site, and the city surrendered. On July 12, IDF forces occupied Ramla without a fight and imposed martial law.

The situation deteriorated again when, on July 12, several Soliders of the Legion re-entered Lod on behalf of an unclear reason. Their entry surprised the IDF and a battle developed in the area, when some of the city’s Arabs joined the Jordanians; the uprising was severely suppressed, and hundreds of residents were killed. The Israeli leadership saw Lod as an city in mutiny, and Ben-Gurion ordered the expulsion of all the residents of the cities to the east. Indeed, in the days that followed, the IDF thoroughly expelled 50K civilians in the direction of Ramallah, in order to exert pressure on the Jordanian Legion and cut off traffic routes. But these human traffic jams also caused the IDF to lose its ability to attack in the direction of Ramallah and to expand the Jerusalem corridor to the north. The focus on the civilians dulled the attack, and in the Latrun arena, the IDF reduced Jordanian control, and failed (for the fourth time) in an attempt to attack the Latrun fortress. Operation Dani was completed with partial strategic success, and at no small cost – almost 200 IDF soldiers were killed; but its impact on the continuation of the war and its contribution to the determination of the borders of the country was great.

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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