Friday, April 06, 2007

IDF Completes Preparations For Easter

Galilee Institute Security Report:
IDF Completes Security Preparations & Prays For Quiet Easter
Sources: IDF Spokesperson and other security sources

The IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea & Samaria have concluded their anti-terror preparations for the April Christian holiday season.

The Israeli security establishment has announced its readiness to facilitate the observance of all Christian religious ceremonies scheduled to take place during this holiday period and will allow for comfortable, quick and efficient passage through checkpoints for the Christian population that seeks to travel and celebrate.

As a result of these painstaking anti-terror preparations:

-Thousands of Christian residents of Judea and Samaria will be able to pass into the rest of Israel for family visits.

-Hundreds of Christians from the Gaza Strip will be permitted to enter Judea and Samaria and Israel's home front for the purpose of religious ceremonies and family visits.

-Christian Clergymen will be able to pass freely through crossings between Judea and Samaria and Israel's home front.

-1,000 Palestinian workers from the region of Judea and Samaria will be permitted to pass into northern Israel for the cucumber and almond picking-season.

-Israeli citizens will be allowed to pass into Jericho and Bethlehem in order to participate in religious ceremonies.

-Entry of Israeli citizens into the Gaza Strip for holiday visits will be authorized according to specific security assessments.

The IDF Spokesperson adds that the Israeli security forces will continue to operate tirelessly and vigorously in order to ensure the safety of all the citizens of the State of Israel while preserving the freedom of religion for all sects of the population.



In early 1948 David Ben Gurion commands a concentrated force of 1500 soldiers to break the way into the besieged Jerusalem. The operation, called "Operation Nachshon", was a turning point in the Independence War: this was the first time that the defense forces were commanded to conquer an area that was defined as Arab territory.

With the British about to leave, it became imperative for the Jews to gain control of the territory that had been assigned to the Jewish State. Such a move would enable the Jews to have a foothold when the Arabs would invade.

To this end, an operational plan ("Plan D") was devised. This plan would be carried out in stages which would be adapted to the manner and rate of the British troop withdrawal.

The first objective of Plan D was to open the road to Jerusalem, to this end Operation Nachshon was devised. The name "Operation Nachshon" was derived from the biblical personage Nachshon Ben Aminadav who was the first to jump into the Red Sea when the Jews fled Egypt.

Operation Nachshon was a first in many respects. It was the first major Haganah operation and it was the first time that a "brigade force" was employed. Before this the Haganah had operated in company-size only.

The brigade force, comprised of three battalions and numbering 1,500 men, was and specifically organized for this operation. These men were armed with Czech weapons that had been smuggled into the country on April 1 at a hidden airstrip in the south. These weapons were covertly issued to Haganah members who were desperate for arms.

Two significant operations preceded Operation Nachshon: the first took place in Ramle. The Haganah blew up the headquarters of Hassan Salame (the commander of the Mufti's Army of Salvation). This attack prevented Salame's forces from thwarting Haganah preparations on the coastal plain. In the second operation, Haganah forces took over the village of Castel, an Arab village which stood between Jerusalem and Kyriat Anavim and blocked the entrance to Jerusalem.

Operation Nachshon itself began on April 6 in the Latrun area with Haganah forces taking over the Wadi al-Sarrar camp, Arab Hulda and Deir Muheisin. Parallel to this, the village of Beit Machsir in the region of Bab el Wad was attacked by Palmach forces, thus clearing the mountain road to Jerusalem. Sixty Palmach trucks drove up to Jerusalem carrying supplies. On 7 and 8 April Arab forces undertook reprisal operations, primarily in the area of Motza. The battle for Castel was fierce. For six days the Arab and Jewish forces battled fiercely. The Jewish forces were pushed back.

In a dramatic reverse, Abd el Kader el-Husseini, who had returned from Damascus to fight, was killed in battle. This proved to be the undoing of the Arab forces on April 10 immediately thereafter retreated. Supplies could now reach Jerusalem safely and by April 20, five convoys of reserves and additional troops reached the city. This condition however, lasted only a short period of time. Immediately thereafter supplies could no longer easily reach the city and convoys had to turn back, as the road to Jerusalem became impassable once again. This precipitated the siege of Jerusalem.