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The legacy of Mashhoor Hadeetha el-Jazi, hero of Karamah Open in fullscreen

Mohammad Fadilat

The legacy of Mashhoor Hadeetha el-Jazi, hero of Karamah

Jazi's tanks routed the invading Israeli artillery force [Picture courtesy of Jazi family]

Date of publication: 22 March, 2015

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Analysis: While the anniversary of an historic victory against the Israeli military is downplayed in Jordan, analysts agree the battle was decided by one man.
When speaking of the Battle of al-Karamah, Jordanian Military Commander Mashhoor Hadeetha el-Jazi is the first to be remembered.

The 47th anniversary of the battle, in which the Jordan Arab Army defeated Israel, was celebrated on 21 March.

But while the hero of al-Karamah swept social media networks; his name bandied around as being responsible for the victory, officials in Jordan have remained reticient to show much bombast in their commemorations of the event since the signing of the Wadi Araba peace treaty 21 years ago.

On the dawn of the battle in 1968, and while the Arabs were still dealing with the bitterness surrounding the defeat the previous June, 40-year-old Colonel Mashhoor was lying in wait to retaliate and take revenge. 

Israeli tanks crossed the bridge from the River Jordan's West Bank to the East Bank with the purpose of finishing off the Palestinian fedayeen who were active in Jordan. Israel wanted to punish Jordan for hosting those warriors by occupying the Jordanian Salt Heights and rendering them a "security buffer zone" for Israel.

The commander was informed of the infiltration, and he gave directives accordingly. He was expecting the battle.

He mobilised the troops and coordinated with the Palestinian fighters and the region's locals who were provided with weapons.

He gave the signal to deter the aggression, a signal that is still controversial until today. Some argue that his orders were not coordinated with the military's command which asked him to wait, but he didn't.

Fightback

Contrary to Israel's expectations - ahead of the operation, Defence Minister Moshe Dayan is believed to have invited journalists to join him for lunch on Jordan's Al-Salt Mountains - Tel Aviv was defeated (and the invitation was waived forever).
Jazi eventually commanded Jordan's
armed forces [Credit: Jazi family]
 


The unexpected intensity of the battle forced Israel to reshuffle its calculations about any existing rivalry between the Jordanian leadership and the Palestinian fighters.

The collapse in morale that was assumed to have hit the Jordanian army in the wake of the June 1967 defeat had failed to materialise, Tel Aviv realised too late.

The Israelis' plan to intimidate civilians had failed. They turned into veteran soldiers the moment foreign tanks arrived on their soil. It was Israel's first defeat - a military with an "invincible" history and an unprecedented record.

"Soldiers, warriors and farmers all joined hands and Jordanian blood mixed with Palestinian blood in the Jordan Valley in defence of the soil of the homeland," Jazi said after the battle.

The unifying "all rifles against Israel" slogan, however, sadly collapsed - when each faction in Jordan tried to take credit for the victory.

The Palestinian fedayeen said the victory was theirs, while the Jordanian regime attributed the success to its own planning, skills and resources.

However, the true hero of the Battle of al-Karamah insisted that it was a victory for everyone.

Working together, they had landed a blow against the legend of the "invincible army" of Israel. It was a milestone in the history of Palestinian guerilla operations. For Jazi, the victory further solidified the unity between the Palestinian and Jordanian nations.

During his military career, Jazi was eventually appointed
the commander of the Jordanian Armed Forces, with the rank of lieutenant-general, in 1971.

He remained faithful to the lessons of the Karamah battle, and continued to defend the unity of Jordanian-Palestinian blood. "All rifles against Israel" remained his slogan.

He always called for soldiers and the fedayeen to stand by each other.

The commander remained true to his principles, despite Jordanians and Palestinians turning against each other.

He died on 7 November 2001, at the age of 73, but despite attempts to remove him from the history books, with officials marginalising his role in the Battle of al-Karamah when re-writing the official narrative, his name remains on the lips of all those who remember the battle today.

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