1948 – Independence

A Commander during the War of Independence

On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved a resolution calling for the partition of the Land of Israel (then known as Mandatory Palestine) and the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Jews accepted the proposal, while the Arabs rejected it and initiated attacks on Jewish targets to thwart its implementation. The War of Independence began.

As the Palmach’s Chief of Operations and charged with coordinating with the General Staff, Rabin dealt primarily with reinforcing the Palmach forces with weaponry and personnel and securing the route to Jerusalem that was subject to infinite attacks from within the Arab villages spread out along the route.

In the early days of April 1948, he was seconded to the “Harel” Division of the Palmach and shortly afterward promoted to serve as “Harel” HQ commander. He warned against the line of defense taken up in transferring the convoys to Jerusalem and called for a more aggressive stance vis-a-vis the villages serving as bases for the convoy’s attackers. During that same month, the “Harel Brigade” was established, and Rabin, at the age of 24, was promoted to serve its commander. Four days later, a decision was reached to implement Operation “Yevusi,” which was intended to assert control over Jerusalem immediately upon the withdrawal of British forces. Tens of his soldiers fell in battle during the harsh battles within the city and on the roadways leading into it. On May 14, 1948, the day of the declaration of the state, Rabin found himself in the company of his exhausted fighters at the command post near Kibbutz Ma’ale Ha-Hamisha.

On June 11, the first ceasefire took effect, under which a makeshift detour to Jerusalem known as “the Burma Road” was established by soldiers from the “Harel” Brigade and alleviated the siege over Jerusalem. On July 9, “Operation Danny” began leading to Lod and Ramla’s occupation. Yitzhak Rabin served as Chief of Operations and deputy to the operation’s commander, Yigal Allon. The sight of the refugees being driven out of their homes with their belongings severely impacted IDF soldiers.