60 Years Ago in Palestine: The Lead-Up to Israeli Independence

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 @ 04:11 PM
Jewish War Plan D[aleth] Accelerated
Abdel Qadir al-Husayni

In early April 1948, the Jewish leadership under Ben-Gurion gradually operationalized their offensive Plan D[aleth]. It was still several weeks before British withdrawal when the plan was originally to come into effect. Part of the accelerated program, known as Operation Nachshon, involved opening up a corridor from the coast to Jerusalem—a narrow road overlooked by Arab villages. This action came in response to the attacks of an Arab armed band that had formed along with others in December 1947-January 1948. One of the largest was led by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni, whose territory encompassed the hills around Ramallah and Jerusalem and who was known to be active in attacking the corridor road. According to Michael Hudson, Operation Nachshon also foresaw the annexing of "as much as the city as possible to the Jewish state."

Two critical events in April led to the subsequent Zionist capture of significant parts of Jerusalem.

On March 31 Ben-Gurion had met with Jewish underground (Haganah) leaders and ordered an attack on the Arab village of Kastel, which overlooked the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. The Palmach captured the village on April 2, only to be counter-attacked by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni's men. Believing that the village was in his hands, at dawn on April 8 Abdel Qadir mistakenly walked up to a Jewish sentry and was shot dead. Recapturing the hilltop of Kastel, Arab forces took the leader's body to the Haram/Temple Mount and buried him there next to his father. Husayni's death was a tremendously demoralizing moment for the Palestinians and a turning point in the war.

The second event was the infamous Jewish attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem. We will come to that next time.

Tags: jerusalem, mid east conflict, palestinians, Ben-Gurion, 1948 war, abdel qadir al husyani