Italian bombing of Mandatory Palestine in World War II

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Memorial in Tel Aviv to the 137 killed in the Italian Royal Air Force raid of the city on 9 September 1940.

The Italian bombing of Mandatory Palestine in World War II was part of an effort by the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) to strike at the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations wherever possible in the Middle East.

Background[edit]

Bombing of Haifa.
Bombing of Haifa refinery

On 10 June 1940, the Kingdom of Italy declared war on the French Republic and the United Kingdom. The Italian invasion of France was short-lived and the French signed an armistice with the Italians on 25 June, three days after France's armistice with Germany. This left the British and the forces of the Commonwealth of Nations for the Italians to contend with in the Middle East.

Bombing campaign[edit]

Starting in July 1940, the Italian bombings in the British Mandate of Palestine were primarily centered on Tel Aviv and Haifa. However, many other coastal towns such as Acre and Jaffa also suffered.[1][2]

In June 1941 there was a last Italian bombing on the territories of the British Mandate of Palestine, which hit Haifa and Tel Aviv but with few damages and casualties.

Bombing of Haifa[edit]

Haifa was hit many times by the Italians, because of the port and refinery, starting in June 1940.

A casualty of the Italian bombing of Tel Aviv 10 September 1940

The 29 July 1940 issue of Time reported a bombing at Haifa by SM82 bombers during the previous week, with a dozen casualties.

According to Time Magazine, the Italians claimed a huge success which the British did not deny.

Where the British oil pipeline from Mosul reaches tidewater, "Ten big Italian bombers, flying at great altitude from the Dodecanese Islands, giving the British bases at Cyprus a wide berth, dumped 50 bombs on the Haifa oil terminal and refinery."

The bombing started fires which burned for many days afterward, and the refinery's production was blocked for nearly one month.

British fighters from a base on Mt. Carmel were too late to overtake the Italians returning to their base in Italian Dodecanese.[3]

Bombing of Tel Aviv[edit]

Bombed buildings in Tel Aviv.

On 9 September 1940, a bombing raid on Tel Aviv caused 137 deaths.[4] There was even another small raid on Tel Aviv in June 1941, done by the Italians together with some aircraft of the German Luftwaffe.[5]

Historian Alberto Rosselli [6] pinpointed that the bombing of Tel Aviv that caused 137 death was due to the fact that the Italian bombers were on their way to the strategic port and refineries of Haifa, but were intercepted by British aircraft. Forced to go back, the Italians received orders to drop their bombs on the port of Tel Aviv, but in attempting to avoid the attacking British planes they dropped the bombs by mistake on a civilian area near the port.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "The Italian Bombing" (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv Municipality. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Yehuda Lapidot. "Why Italian Planes Bombed Tel-Aviv?". IsraCast. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "Southern Theatre: God's Time". TIME. 29 July 1940. Retrieved 6 September 2011.  (Paywalled)
  4. ^ Michael Omer-Man (9 September 2011). "This Week in History: Italy bombs Tel Aviv". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Italian bombs on Tel Aviv (in Italian)
  6. ^ Alberto Rosselli