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The Battle of Al-Karameh: Palestine 1968

These stamps issued by the palestinian resistance and the Fatah movement in particular commemorate the battle of Al-Karama. This battle occured in Jordan on March 21st 1968 between, the israeli army in one side, and the jordanian army and the palestinian resistance on the other side. The battle took place in the eastern part of Jordan valley. The battle was named after Al-Karamah village where the important combats took place.

Al-Karamah stamp - Fatah - 1968
Stamp issued by Fatah movement commemorating Al-Karamah

Context of the battle

After Israel occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River in the 1967 war, Palestinian fighters groups (fedayeen) established bases in the eastern valley on the Jordanian territory. The fedayeen conducted attacks against the israeli occupation army on the other side of the border without prior coordination with the Jordanian army.

At the beginning of the year 1968, Israel issued several official statements, announcing that if the Palestinian fedayeen’s activities continued across the river, it would decide to conduct a suitable counter-action. 

The battle 

In the dawn of the 21st of March 1968, the israeli army started a military operation on the Jordanian territory. The objective was to smash the palestinian resistance and establish a security zone by occupying the Al-Salt Heights.

Al-Karamah four stamps - Fatah - 1968
Stamps issued by the palestinian Fatah movement commemorating Al-Karamah

The Israeli army was surprised of the level of resistance and good coordination demonstrated by the Jordanian soldiers and Palestinian fighters on the battle ground. The israeli army suffered important losses and was forced to request a cease fire at 11:30 AM. The King Hussein of Jordan rejected all calls for cease fire and insisted to continue fighting the invading forces until they are forced to leave the jordanian territory.

At 3:00 PM, the israeli army started attempring a ordered retreat, that became quickly disordered under the Jordanian artillery shelling. The israeli army abandaned burned vehicles and tanks and cadavers of dead soldiers on the battle ground during its retreat.

Consequences of the battle

This battle that lasted about 16 hours was considered as a major victory by the arabs against an ennemy who had defeated six arab armies in six days, less that a year before. The King Hussein of Jordan and the palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appeared as the heros of this battle.

Instead of crashing the palestinian resistance, this battle strengthened it. It gave it a postive image and led thounsands of palestinian young people to join it.

These commeorative stamps were issued by the movement Fatah, the largest organization in the palestinian resistance. They did not have postal value.

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