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Operation Dekel (Hebrew: מבצע דקל‎, Mivtza Dekel, lit. Operation Palm Tree), was the largest offensive by Israeli forces in the north of Palestine after the first truce of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was carried out by the 7th Armoured Brigade led by Canadian volunteer Ben Dunkelman (called Benjamin Ben-David in Israel), a battalion from the Carmeli Brigade, and some elements from the Golani Brigade between 8–18 July. Its objective was to capture Nazareth and the Lower Galilee.

On 15 July Israeli aircraft bombed Saffuriya village and caused panic among the population; many of the villagers fled northwards toward Lebanon, others found shelter in Nazareth, leaving about 100 elderly people behind.

On the evening of 16 July, Nazareth surrendered to the Israelis after a light fight which left one Israeli dead and one wounded. The Arab Liberation Army forces in the village under the command of Fawzi al-Qawuqji retreated to the mountains in the north. In sharp contrast to the surrounding towns, the inhabitants of Nazareth were never forced to evacuate as Dunkelman refused to obey orders from Haim Laskov to evacuate them.[1]

Palestinian Arab villages captured in Operation DekelEdit

Operation Dekel. July 1948
Name Population[2] Dates Brigade Notes
Kuwaykat 1,050 9 7th Armoured Brigade and Carmeli Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed
Kafr Yasif 1,057 (1931) 10 Carmeli Brigade Most of Muslim population as well as refugees from other villages deported. Town exists today.
Khirbat Jiddin 1,500 10–11 Village and bedouin camps depopulated and destroyed.
Julis n/a (Druze) 8–14 Population allowed to remain in their homes. Town exists today.
Al-Makr n/a 8–14 Town exists today.
I'billin 1,057 8–14 Muslim population expelled. Town exists today.
Shefa-'Amr 3,640 8–14 7th Armoured Brigade and Carmeli Brigade Muslim population fled under bombardmennt. Town exists today as a city.
Kabul 457 (1931) 15 7th Armoured Brigade Villagers remained. Town exists today.
Al-Mujaydil 1900 15 Golani Brigade Village completely emptied and razed to the ground.
Ma'lul 690 15 Village depopulated and destroyed.
Saffuriya 4,000 16 7th Armoured Brigade[3] and Carmeli Brigade Villagers expelled. Hundreds of returnees expelled November 1948 and January 1949. Nothing remains.
Nazareth 18,000 16 Carmeli Brigade Population allowed to remain. Town exists today.
Nimrin 320 17 Village depopulated and destroyed.
Lubya 2,370 17 Villagers not allowed to return. Village buildings destroyed in 1960s.
Hittin 1,190 17 Golani Brigade Villagers fled before the attack and then prevented from returning. Village destroyed.
Amqa 1,240 15–16 7th Armoured Brigade and Carmeli Brigade Village depopulated and destroyed.
ad-Damun 1,310 15–16 7th Armoured Brigade Village bombarded, population expelled and buildings destroyed.
Tamra, 15–18 7th Armoured Brigade Villagers evacuated 20 May. Re-populated with exiles from neighbouring villages.
Mi'ar 770 15–18 7th Armoured Brigade Villagers fled from advancing soldiers. Village destroyed.
Yafa 833 (1931) 15–18 Town exists today.
Uzeir 150 15–18 Village exists today.
Kfar Kanna 1,175 (1922) 15–18 7th Armoured Brigade Town exists today.
Rummana 590 15–18 Village exists today.
Bu'eina 15–18 Town exists today.
Al-Ruways 330 18 7th Armoured Brigade Villagers fled under bombardment and buildings destroyed. Land now used by kibbutz Yas'ur.
Tur'an 1,350 18 Empty houses used for refugees expelled from other villages. Town exists today.
Nahf 200 (1881) 18 7th Armoured Brigade Population allowed to remain. Town exists today.
Al-Birwa 1,460 18 Units of ALA involved in defending the village. After capture villagers were prevented from returning and the village was destroyed.
Sha'b 1,740 19 Villagers expelled, later replaced by exiles from other villages.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Said, E.W. & Hitchens, C. (2001) Blaming the Victims pp. 86–87 ISBN 1-85984-340-9
  2. ^ 'All That Remains', ISBN 0-88728-224-5, quoting 1944/45 census.
  3. ^ Dan Freeman-maloy (Winter 2011). "Mahal and the Dispossession of the Palestinians". Journal of Palestine Studies. 40 (2). JSTOR 10.1525/jps.2011.XL.2.43.

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