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Operation Horev

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Operation Horev (December 22, 1948 - January 7, 1949) was a military operation of the IDF in the 1948-49 Israel War of Independence to capture outposts in Sinai. The strategic objective of Operation Horev was to to induce the Egyptian government to negotiate an armistice by eliminating their forward positions and the air bases they had been using to bomb Israel. "Horev" is a biblical name for Mt. Sinai. The operation was also called "Ayin" because of the four objectives, all locales whose name start with the letter "Ayin" in Hebrew - 'Aza (Gaza), [bir] 'Asluj, [el] Aouja, and [el] Arish.

The Israelis attacked both in Gaza and in Sinai, using combined land, air and naval forces. Alexandroni, Golani, Negev, Givati and Harel brigades participated in the operation. This large effort was made possible because of lack of coordination between the Arab armies, and because at this stage, Syria and Jordan were no longer interested in prolonging the war.

Click for larger map of operation Horev

The Egyptian forces were deployed in an Eastern arm that was aimed at Jerusalem, and a Western arm that held Gaza and was aimed at Tel Aviv. The first stage of the operation was meant to destroy the eastern arm of the Egyptian army along the Bir Asluj- El Auja- El-Hafir- Abu Ageila axis, while pinning down the Western branch in the Aza-Rafiah-El-Arish axis with diversionary attacks. El Auja is the Egyptian name for Nitzana. Most of the Eastern arm was indeed destroyed, but Alexandroni was unable to eliminate the Faluja. The operation ultimately induced armistice negotiations, causing the Egyptians to surrender at Faluja

In a later stage, IDF forces were supposed to destroy Egyptian forces on the shores between Rafah and Beit Hanoun, cutting off Gaza. This was to be aided by diversionary attacks in Sinai that would draw Egyptian forces away from Gaza. However, the Israeli advance deep into Sinai alarmed the Egyptians, who called for British aid under their treaty. The British sent RAF spitfires out against the Israelis, and the Israelis shot down five of them, four in aerial combat and one from ground fire. The Israelis claimed the British were firing upon them, whereas the British insisted these were unarmed reconnaissance flights. The downing of British aircraft produced sharp diplomatic protests, and the Israelis were forced to withdraw, after they had done considerable damage to Egyptian airbases and carted off at least one Egyptian Spitfire aircraft. With Israeli operations in Sinai curtailed, the operations against Rafah were no longer effective.

The Negev Brigade had a key role in the conquests inside Sinai. The map below details the operations of the Negev Brigade.

French Commando, and 7th & 9th Battalions.
7th and 9th Battalions’ attacks with Jeep Company.
9th Battalion, Jeep Company’s raids.

operation Horev - Haim Bar Lev and Micha Perry

Haim Bar-Lev, 9th Battalion Commander (front, left) (later chief of staff of the IDF), Micha Perry, Number 2 Battalion Commander (behind him) and two other officers addressing Negev Battalion soldiers at Halutza before embarking on the attack south.Photo from "Eyes of the Beholder," 2008 by David Teperson See  Negev Beasts.

Negev Brigade on the way to Abu Agaila with captured Egyptian armor. Shortly after the picture was taken, Israeli aircraft, mistaking the vehicles with Egyptian markings for an Egyptian force, accidentally bombed it. Photo from "Eyes of the Beholder," 2008 by David Teperson See  Negev Beasts.

Egyptian prisoners of war taken at Abu Ageila being marched from Sinai to Israel, escorted by jeeps of the Negev Beasts commandos.

 

Booty - Captured Egyptian Spitfire aircraft, taken from El Arish airport to Auja (Nitzana). Above: the aircraft is guarded by Israeli soldier at Auja. Below, it has been disassembled and loaded on a vehicle for transport to the north. Photo from "Eyes of the Beholder," 2008 by David Teperson See  Negev Beasts.

References: Teperson, David, "Eyes of the Beholder," 2008.  See  Negev Beasts. All photos from the book. Additional material from Bazz Hebrew Web site and other sources.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Horeb, Chorev, Ayin

Further Information:  See Operation Horev - Gaza and Sinai


Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.


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This work is copyright © 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. This entry is copyright © 2008. Quoted materials may be copyright by their authors and must not be used in commercial publications without permission.  Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

 

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