The battle of al-Karama took place on 21 March 1968, in and around the small Jordanian town of
After Israel occupied the
Israel decided to move decisively against the fedayeen at al-Karama shortly thereafter. By early March 1968, both the fedayeen and the Jordanian army began noticing a large build-up of Israeli forces across the Jordan River. Overconfident from their success in the recent June War, the Israeli army made no attempt to hide its build-up of troops and equipment, giving Jordanian and Palestinian forces ample time to prepare their defense. The Jordanian army began moving tanks and artillery into place. On the Palestinian side, PFLP commanders
On the morning of 21 March, Israeli infantry soldiers and paratroopers, along with tanks, armored cars, and other vehicles, crossed the Allenby Bridge
south of al-Karama and the
Though technically a military victory for Israel, in the sense that the Israelis accomplished their objective of destroying the fedayeen base at al-Karama, the battle of al-Karama was perceived by many as an Israeli setback and a victory, albeit a moral one, for the Arab world and particularly for Palestinians. This marked the first time since the June War that such a large Israeli force had been deployed across the 1967 borders , and the fact that it sustained an unusually (and unexpectedly) high number of losses did much to bolster morale throughout the Arab world, which was still reeling from the 1967 defeat.
Although Jordanian soldiers, tanks, and artillery played a major role in the battle, Fatah immediately seized upon the battle to portray it as an example of Palestinian steadfastness: lightly armed, heroic fedayeen fighting against the mighty Israeli army and inflicting heavy losses. The fedayeen’s prestige in the
Cooley, John. Green March, Black September: The Story of the Palestinian Arabs. London: Frank Cass, 1973.
Dupuy, Trevor N. Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947–1974. New York: Harper & Row, 1978.
Sayigh, Yezid. Armed Struggle and the State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.