Operation Kilshon (Qilshon) (May 14-16, 1948) was a military operation of the Haganah in the 1948 Israel War of Independence. It implemented the plan of the Jewish forces to take over British installations in Jerusalem abandoned as the British left Palestine on May 14-15 1948, and to connect isolated Jewish communities in southern Jerusalem. It was a successor to operation Shfifon, and to the failed and premature operation Yevussi.
"Kilshon" means pitchfork. The operation got its name from the three prongs of its attack - North, Center and South. The northern prong captured the Police Academy building in Sheikh Jarah and some territory in the neighborhood of Musrara and the Mandelbaum gate. It failed in more ambitious plans. The central force captured the British government fortified compound, "Bevingrad," in the center of the city. The British had fortified the entire center of the city with rolls of barbed wire on the Jewish side, making access difficult. To reach the compound buildings, Jewish forces had to cut through all the barbed wire with wire cutters on the night of May 14. The picture below shows Princess Mary Street in Bevingrad, with the Police Headquarters on the right.
"Bevingrad" included the Russian compound, which the British had rented from the Russians and used for the jail, police headquarters and courthouses, the Italian hospital, central post office, OBG building and Generali builiding as well as police storage warehouses. The major battle in the central area took place around the Notre Dame monastery, which was captured by the LECHI, was retaken by the Arabs, and was finally conquered by a unit of the Moriah battalion.
The most extensive gains were in the southern section, where Jewish forces captured the Allenby and El Alamein camps and the neighborhoods of Baqa and Talbieh, the German Colony, the railway and the the government print house. Jewish forces got as far as Abu Tor elite. The southern part of the operation also linked up the isolated Yemin Moshe neighborhood.
Click for Large Map of Operation Kilshon
The forces allocated for the northern sector of operation Kilshon proved inadequate. They failed to take Jaffa gate and French Hill, but did take Zion gate and broke the siege into the Old City Jewish quarter for a brief time (18/19 May). However, there were no troops available to hold Zion gate open. As the Arab Legion began arriving in Jerusalem, and attacked from the northern sector, Kilshon forces there proved inadequate. Jerusalem command also tried to capture Rockefeller museum. This key operation failed.
Operation Kilshon pushed the Arab forces into the Old City of Jerusalem, and hastened the decision of King Abdullah of Jordan to bring about the intervention of the Arab Legion in Jerusalem.
Collins, Larry, and Lapierre, Dominique, O Jerusalem!, Pan Books, N.Y. 1973.
Haganah Operation Qilshon (Hebrew).
Herzog, Chaim and Gazit Shomo, The Arab Israeli Wars, Vintage Books, N.Y. 2005.
Levi, Yitzhak, "Tisha Kabin" (9 Measures) (Jerusalem in the War of Independence, (in Hebrew) Maarachot - IDF, Israel Ministry of Defense, 1986.
Morris, Benny, Righteous Victims, Alfred Knopf, 1999.
Synonyms and alternate spellings: Operation Qilshon
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.
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