Samu Incident - Operation Shredder

Operation Shredder

Israel mobilised a force of around 3,000-4,000 soldiers, backed by tanks and aircraft, in the attack code-named Operation Shredder. The force was divided into a large reserve force, which remained on the Israeli side of the border, and two attack forces, which crossed into the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. Ground troops moved into the village of Rujm al-Madfa located just southwest of Hebron and destroyed its police station. From there, the larger force of eight Centurion tanks followed by 400 paratroopers mounted in 40 open-topped half-tracks and 60 engineers in 10 more half-tracks headed for Samu. Meanwhile, the smaller force of three tanks and 100 paratroopers and engineers in 10 half-tracks headed toward two smaller villages, Khirbet el-Markas and Khirbet Jimba. When the larger force entered Samu, most of the town's residents responded to orders by the IDF to gather in the town square. Sappers from the 35th paratrooper brigades then dynamited numerous buildings within and near the village; reports of the total number of building destroyed range from 40 to 125 (IDF and United Nations estimates, respectively). The UN also reported the destruction of the village medical clinic, a 6-classroom school and a workshop, in addition, one mosque and 28 houses had been damaged.

The 48th Infantry Battalion of the Jordanian Army, commanded by Major Asad Ghanma, encountered the Israeli forces north-west of Samu. Two companies of the Hitteen Infantry Brigade (لواء المشاة حطين) also approached from the north-east; these were composed of roughly 100 men and 20 convoy vehicles, and commanded by Brig. Gen. Bahjat al-Muhaisen (العميد الركن بهجت المحيسن). Apparently, al-Muhaisen was leading his troops to Yattah, another village south of Hebron, but the road there passed though Samu. The Jordanians were subsequently ambushed by Israeli forces.

According to then-Colonel al-Muhaisen, in an interview with the Jordanian Armed Forces' Al Aqsa Magazine, Jordanian intelligence had informed him that the target of the Israeli attack was Samu village. He ordered his troops to move toward Samu from two directions, one through Thaheria Village and the other through Yatta, which he led, in an attempt to reach Samu before the Israelis did. The Israelis reached higher ground first.

Eight Jordanian Hawker Hunter jets scrambled at Mafraq Airbase and attacked Israeli forces to relieve pressure on their own troops, but were met by a force of four Israeli mirage 3 jets. In the air battle that followed, a Jordanian plane was shot down and the pilot was killed, and an Israeli plane was damaged and forced to land.

Another platoon of Jordanians armed with two 106 mm recoilless rifles entered Samu, engaging the IDF. In the ensuing battle fifteen Jordanian soldiers were killed, and fifty-four other soldiers were wounded, including Colonel al-Muhaisen. The commander of the Israeli paratroop battalion, Colonel Yoav Shaham, was killed and ten other Israeli soldiers were wounded.

Three civilians were also killed and 96 wounded during the battle.

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