Operation Barak (Hebrew: מבצע ברק, Mivtza Barak, lit. Operation Lightning) was a Haganah offensive launched just before the end of the British Mandate in Palestine. It was part of Plan Dalet. Its objective was to capture villages North of Gaza in anticipation of the arrival of the Egyptian army. It was undertaken by the newly formed Giv'ati brigade, commanded by Shimon Avidan.
Operational orders defined the Giv'ati brigades objectives as: "To deny the enemy a base ... creating general panic and breaking his morale ... cause the flight of the inhabitants of the smaller settlements in the area." Commander Avidan's instructions were: "You will determine alone, in consultation with your Arab affair advisers and Intelligence Service officer, the villages in your zone that should be occupied, cleaned up or destroyed." According to historian Benny Morris, Avidan preferred the latter option.
As a prelude, the Giv'ati brigade's first action took place on 4 May 1948 when the brigade occupied 'Aqir, south west of al-Ramle, population 2,480.
The offensive was launched on 9 May with Bayt Daras being subjected to mortar bombardment prior to being occupied. Subsequently village houses were blown up. A second round of attacks were launched on 15 May.
Two months later the Giv'ati brigade carried out a further operation in this area capturing at least 16 villages and creating 'more than 20,000' refugees.
Arab communities captured during Operation Barak
|Aqir||4 May 1948||'hostages taken'||Giv'ati||2,480|
|Qatra||6 May 1948||villagers||Giv'ati||1,210|
|Bayt Darra||10 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||2,750|
|'Arab Suqrir||10 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||390|
|Burayr||12 May 1948||n/a||Negev||2,740|
|Al-Sawafir al-Shamaliyya||12 May 1948||n/a||n/a||680|
|Bashshit||12 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||1,620|
|Khubbayza||12-14 May 1948||n/a||IZL||290|
|Najd||13 May 1948||n/a||Negev||620|
|Al-Batani al-Sharqi||13 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||650|
|Abu Shusha||14 May 1948||n/a
|Al-Na'ani||14 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||2,060
inc. 590 Jews
|Al-Qubab||15 May 1948||n/a||n/a||1,980|
|Simsim||15 May 1948||n/a||Negev||1,360
inc. 70 Jews
|Al-Maghar||15 May 1948||n/a||Giv'ati||1,740|
- Morris, pp.126,127: "Avidan apparently wanted only empty villages."
- 'All that Remains'. p.360, quotes New York Times as estimating the Haganah force as being 400 strong.
- All that Remains. pp.87,395. Morris, pp.126,127.
- Morris, pp.212,213, reference given as Giv'ati Brigade's official history (in Hebrew).
- Walid Khalidi, All That Remains, ISBN 0-88728-224-5. Uses 1945 census for population figures.
- Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949, ISBN 0-521-33028-9.