On these days, 7 decades ago, the Iraqi army fought fierce battles to defend Palestine and prevent the displacement of its people, and the Battle of Jenin, which broke out on May 31, 1948, is a symbol of the Iraqi army’s heroism and its oppression, along with Palestinian volunteers, as historians and researchers see.
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Iraqi move التحرك
The Palestine issue was a central issue for the Arab peoples, especially after Britain’s withdrawal from Palestine and the domination of the Zionists. This is a prelude to the gathering of Arab armies, including the Iraqi army, to contribute to the 1948 war, according to the military expert Abd al-Khaliq al-Shaher.
It shows to Al-Jazeera Net that the regiment that liberated the city of Jenin joined the rest of the Iraqi army’s sectors late, as it moved in northern Iraq from the city of Aqrah to Kirkuk and then the Mosul train station, on May 26, 1948, and they managed to block the road to Palestine in 4 stages and in a day. One, it caused severe wear to the pieces.
Al-Shaher points out that the Arab armies that arrived after the integration of the Iraqi Fifth Brigade did not exceed 20-25 thousand soldiers, matched by 100 thousand soldiers of the Israeli occupation army.
He added, “In the military balance, as the occupation army is in the form of cannons and has 100,000 soldiers, that requires it to attack with at least 300,000 soldiers, not 20,000 because the attacker must be 3 times the cannons.”
He expresses his belief that the Iraqi army was better than the rest of the units in terms of seriousness in implementing the general plan, as the Iraqi mechanized force led by Brigadier Taher Al-Zubaidi managed to cross the Jordan River and attacked Kesher Castle, despite its inability to storm it, and pushed another regiment from the 15th Infantry Brigade towards heights. It overlooks the occupied planet of Al-Hawa in preparation for its recovery.
Dr. Jabbar Al-Shammari, a professor of contemporary political history at Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, says that the actual movement of the Iraqi army forces began on May 15, 1948, when they crossed the Jordan River and attacked the fortified Kesher fortress built by the British during World War II within what is known at the time as a line Defensive Eden.
He tells Al-Jazeera Net how the Iraqi forces managed to reach the walls of the castle and blow up its gate, but they did not enter the castle, and remained stationed around its walls, as the orders came from the field command to leave the castle and move towards Nablus and the village of Al-Jiftlik to control them.
The battle of Jenin
The Iraqi Mechanized Regiment, led by Lieutenant Colonel Noah Chalabi, was the first force to reach Jenin (north of the West Bank) – according to Al-Shammari – on May 28, 1948, and it began to organize defense lines for Jenin, in cooperation with Palestinian volunteers.
In the meantime, he adds, the Zionists attacked the Iraqi forces, and they were more numerous and familiar, so Lt. Col. Noah was forced to retreat to the Citadel of Medina, which is a police station, and the Iraqi forces were trapped inside this castle and requested reinforcements after their ammunition was running low.
It is noteworthy that the situation of the Iraqi forces became critical in that area until June 3, when the Fourth Infantry Brigade led by Colonel Salih Zaki was completing its arrival to Nablus, and the first units to reach Nablus were the second regiment of the Fifth Infantry Brigade, which was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Omar. Ali, and this heroic Iraqi officer was able to lead the battle of Jenin with Iraqi forces and Palestinian volunteers.
Al-Shammari praises the plan adopted by Lieutenant Colonel Omar Ali when he moved towards Jenin and was able to break the siege on the Iraqi forces present there, so he walked the heights overlooking Jenin and was able to circumvent the enemy and hit him from behind, and this maneuver had a great impact on confusing the Zionists.
And he went on to say, “On the same day, the first regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade arrived in Jenin from Nablus to perpetuate the momentum of the battle, and violent clashes took place that day, which led to the withdrawal of the Zionists to the heights, and the Iraqi army continued to advance at dawn on June 4 and inflicted great losses on the Zionists, which forced them.” To withdraw, leaving behind a large number of deaths and a quantity of weapons, and the siege was lifted by the Iraqi army forces in the Jenin police station.
The professor of contemporary political history talks about the spoils of the Iraqi army in that battle, which are 300 rifles of different models, 10 mortars, 20 machine guns, and 4 radio devices, and the enemy’s losses in that battle were about 300 dead and wounded, and the losses of the Iraqi and Palestinian forces about 100 dead and wounded. And Jenin embraced the graves of Iraqi soldiers in a special cemetery.
Al-Shammari believes that had it not been for the bravery of the Iraqi army and the Palestinian volunteers in this battle, a large part of the villages in the Jenin area would have been among the displaced villages, and perhaps the city of Jenin itself.
Lack of cooperation
Some experts attribute the reason for the lack of cooperation between the Arab armies and the Iraqi army because it stems from the fact that these countries did not care about the Palestinian cause, because they were occupied or lost their sovereign decision at the time, according to political science professor Dr. Ahmed Adnan Al-Mayali.
He explains to Al-Jazeera Net that the lack of coordination and communication and the lack of unity of the participants, goals and visions are all factors that led to this, so that the Syrian and Jordanian armies, despite their presence in the occupied territories, did not rush towards Jenin, and there was no Arab decision to do so.
Al-Mayali added that the Iraqi army at that time did not have Arab support, and even the Iraqi government itself did not support its army sufficiently, due to the presence of Britain and its influence in Iraq, despite the trustee Abd al-Ilah’s belief in the Palestinian cause.
In turn, Al-Shammari expressed his regret that most of the Arab armies had refrained from implementing the orders of the General Command of the Arab Army, and as a result, the Iraqi Staff Major General Nour al-Din Mahmoud exempted himself from this command on June 8, and considered himself the head of the Iraqi General Staff only.
A truce and withdrawal
After battles that lasted 10 days, along the Palestinian fronts from the north to the south, the UN Security Council decided to impose a truce that came into effect on July 18, 1948, when most Arab governments agreed to the armistice decision, but the Arab peoples rejected it and launched large demonstrations in Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo and Amman, according to political researcher Yahya Hammoudat.
He added to Al-Jazeera Net that the second truce was a lifeline for the Zionists, not only to protect them from losing the war, but because they exploited it in an optimal way, so they rearranged their forces and renewed their plans, unlike the Arabs who did not benefit from the two armistices.
Hammoudat confirms that the Israeli forces circumvented the Security Council resolution and managed to occupy dozens of villages without any movement from the Arab countries.
He attributes that loss to the absence of Arab coordination and the failure to abide by the decisions of the unified leadership. Then the political differences between the Arab regimes, which later turned into sharp rivalries, began to cast a shadow over the battle.
For his part, Dr. Abdel Aziz Aliwi, a professor of political science, says that Iraq’s participation was not limited to Jenin, but rather that he had subsequent posts on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts, which highlights the high Arab sense among Iraqis, which over time has become an integral part of the military doctrine that was the greatest motivation. To go to Jenin.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Aliwi saw the confrontations between the Iraqi forces and the occupation army in more than one area as a shock to Israel, which faced “strategic horror” that was not in its calculations, after the air strikes, ambushes and clashes failed to stop the supply of the Iraqi army, which did not stop even at the time of the truce.