Operation Yoav

Operation Yoav

Military Operation
Operation Yoav
Start Date
15 October 1948
End Date
04 November 1948
Zionist Unit(s)
Negev Brigade
Giv'ati Brigade
Har'el Brigade
Yiftach Brigade
Arab Unit(s)
Egyptian Forces

The objective of Operation Yoav (initially named Operation Ten Plagues but then renamed to Operation Yoav) was to link Israeli forces in the Negev with those positioned to the north of them, in the area south of Ramla. The earlier stages of Operation Yoav were coordinated with parts of Operation ha-Har, which was carried out by the Giv'ati Brigade further north. In the last week of October 1948, the operational areas were merged. Israeli units broke through Egyptian lines on 23 October 1948, linking the Israeli-held parts of the Hebron hills with the Jerusalem corridor.

To launch Operation Yoav the Israeli army assembled the Giv'ati, Negev, and Yiftach brigades in the inland area already in their hands, east of the coast between Isdud and Gaza. Egyptian units controlled the coastal strip as far north as Isdud. As soon as the second truce ended, on 15 October, the Israeli troops provoked Egyptian forces into firing on an Israeli supplies convoy and then began heavy bombing and strafing attacks. Israeli historian Benny Morris writes that, in order to "soften up" the villages before their occupation, the Israeli army used artillery far more extensively than in any previous offensive, in addition to aerial attacks by bombers and fighter-bombers.

On 15 October, United Press International reported from Cairo that Israeli planes had bombed the village of al-Jura, along with Gaza and al-Majdal. Barbara was strafed and bombed on the same day and captured by the end of the operation; Isdud came under naval and aerial attack at about the same time. Hamama was occupied on 28 October, during the third stage of Operation Yoav; Dimra may have been seized that same day, with the withdrawal of Egyptian forces along the coastal road.

By the end of the operation, Israeli forces managed to defeat the Egyptian army on the southern front, occupying most of the villages in the Gaza District. By that time, Israeli military activity in the coastal areas had caused "despair among the local inhabitants," according to an Israeli intelligence officer at the time. The bombing and strafing left its mark on the population in the region which was psychologically unprepared and had no access to air-raid shelters


Selected bibliography

The New York Times. 16 October 1948, 19 October 1948, 22 October 1948, 23 October 1948, 29 October 1948 and 31 October 1948.

Israeli Ministry of Defense. Toldot Milchemet ha-Qomemiyyut [The History of the War of Independence]. Tel Aviv: Marakhot, 1959, p. 296, 304-5, 308, 311-13, 368.

Morris, Benny. The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978, p. 75, xvii, 128, 217-24, 242, 247.