Scenario Ideas for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

Scenario ideas for my Arab-Israeli Crossfire set in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. At some point I might turn them into proper scenarios. For the moment they are literally just ideas.

See also the Timeline for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

War of the Roads, 1948

Leading up to the Independence the Arabs and Jews fought a guerilla war on the roads of Palestine. The Jews needed to get supplies to their outposts and the Arabs were trying to stop this. The most significant route was that to Jerusalem where the 100,000 Jews of the Holy city were dependent on the supplies trucked in from Tel-Aviv. However, little villages and kibutzs all over the country needed convoys on a regular basis.

Any number of incidents could be simulated in a wargame however the essence is the same. The Israelis have a force of Improvised Armoured Cars, Supply Trucks. and some support troops (perhaps a platoon of infantry). The Arabs have a swarm of irregulars. As time goes on more and more Arab irregulars hear the shooting and will come to join in (in the hope of loot) so it is a race against time for the Israelis. The Israelis must get the Trucks across the table (on the road). The Arabs must prevent this.

Ramat Yohanan, Early Apr 1948

Sometime during the battles for Mishmar Haemek (4-12 Apr 1948) a Druze Battalion (Shahib Wahab) of the Army Liberation Army (Fauzi el-Kaukji) attacked the village of Ramat Yohanan. Ramat Yohanan lies to the north of Mishmar Haemek and the idea was to relieve the pressure on Fauzi el-Kaukji in the main battle. Facing the Druze were units of the Haganah’s “Carmeli” Brigade. For two days Shahib Wahab sent waves of troops against the village. Both sides were exhausted when the Druze finally withdrew.

For the purposes of this scenario the Druze have 2 companies against one company of Carmeli defenders. Both sides are Regulars. The Druze aim is the capture the village, and the Israelis aim to prevent them.

St. Simon’s Monastery, late Apr 1948

Around 26 April elements of the Harel Brigade (4th & 5th Battalions) and Etzioni Brigade (4th Battalion) attacked the Katamon district of south Jerusalem. The Arab Liberation Army defenders were driven out of the Greek Orthodox St. Simon’s Monastery after a fierce struggle. Of the 120 Jews in the attack on the Monastery, 40 died, and 60 were seriously wounded.

Russian Monastery, 12 May 1948

After days of fighting a garrison company of the Arab Legion launched its final attack on the 32 Jewish defenders of the Russian Monastery. The Monastery was about 500 m to a side and protected the southern approaches to the Etzion Block. The Arabs took the monastery and only 8 of the defenders, all wounded, managed to retreat to other positions.

(Meanwhile Arab irregulars skirmished with the Jewish positions on Yellow Hill, Tree Hill, Khirbet Suweir, and Mukhtar Hill – but that is a different story.)

Mandelbaum Gate, 19-20 May 1948

Mandelbaum House

Terrain should represent the rough area between Mea Shearim and Sheikh Jarrah. Use groups of houses on two sides of the table to represent the suburbs, and scatter rocky patches between. There should also be at least one small hill – probably several – and some roads and dirt tracks cross the area. Mandelbaum House was at the junction where St. George Road entered Mea Shearim. The Jews had lined the edge of the rock field nearest Mea Shearim with barbed wire; their own men had to crawl under it to get into position in the field.

I have reduced the scale of the forces, particularly the armour, to make it more appropriate for Crossfire.

Legion Order of Battle

  • Reinforced company (4 platoons) of Arab Legion with following support weapons
  • 1 x HMG
  • 1 x off-table 2″ mortar
  • 1 x off-table 3″ mortar
  • 1 x off-table 25-pounder
  • Single FO for all off table ordinance (FO can ride in an armoured car)
  • 4 x Armoured Cars

The Legion deploy second; move first. The deploy off table and move on anywhere on the north-east side of the table. The Legion are considered regular in built up areas and otherwise veteran as Glubb believed their “business is fighting in open country, not slogging from room to room”.

Israeli Order of Battle

  • 2 x platoons of Gadna
  • 1 x rifle squad can have Bazookas.
  • 1 x HMG squad (Green)
  • 1 x Armoured Car (Veteran)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Davidka

The Israelis deploy first and move second. They can deploy hidden anywhere south-west of the dirt track and Nablus road. The Gadna count as Regular in built up areas, and Green outside.

The set up sequence is:

  1. Israelis deploy
  2. Roll for Legion objectives
  3. Legion deploys
  4. Legion moves
  5. Israelis move
  6. etc

Objectives: The Legion gets points for getting its armoured cars off one of the table in one of three sectors (A, B, or C on the map), and the Israelis must prevent this. Which sector is thrown for randomly, unfortunately for the Arabs, the Jewish player decides the probability of each objective. The Israeli player must assign each number on 1d6 to one of the three objectives (A, B, and C), at least one number must be assigned to each objective. The Arab player then rolls to see what their objective is – this simulates the mistake that launched their attack on the Mandelbaum House. Nevo, the historical Jewish commander, would have picked something like: 1 = A, 2-5 = B, 6 = C. The points must be such that if 2 Arab armoured cars are lost, then they lose the battle.

Special rule for HMG versus AFVs applies.

Special Rule 5 (Bogging Down) might be appropriate to keep the Armoured cars on the roads and tracks.

Notre Dame, 23 – 24 May 1948

Terrain. I’m guessing a bit here based on a couple of photos I have. Terrain is largely urban. The Notre Dame complex dominates the the table. The main building is E shaped with the open end of the E facing north-east toward the Damascus Gate. This end of the building fronted onto a walled garden including fruit trees. The base of the E fronted onto Suleiman Road and the walls of the Old City. Everything north of Suleiman Street, except the roads, the Notre Dame complex and the Soeurs Réparatrices Convent, is covered in 2 story buildings. The Convent has been partially demolished, and rubble blocks Suleiman street. A section of the Old City wall is on the south-eastern table edge; this includes the New Gate.

The Legion gets two infantry companies plus supports.

Notre Dame

Legion Order of Battle

  • 2 x company of Arab Legion (Regular) with following support weapons
  • 1 x HMG (Regular)
  • 1 x 6-pounder ATG
  • 3 x 2″ mortars off table with FO on the City Wall
  • 1 x 25-pounder off table
  • 4 x Armoured Cars

The Legion deploy second and move first. They may deploy on the Old City Wall, or come on table from the area marked A; even the 6-pounder can deploy on the city wall as historically they dragged them up (armoured cars and off table troops can not deploy on the walls). The Legion player may, if they choose, reserve troops off-table; any such troops can enter the table via New Gate or at sector A on any Legion initiative. No troops can leave the table via New Gate. The Legion are considered regular not veteran in this battle as Glubb believed their “business is fighting in open country, not slogging from room to room”.

The Israelis get a company each of Gadna (youth group) and Home Guard.

Israeli Order of Battle

  • 1 x company of Gadna (Regular)
  • 1 x company of Home Guard and armed civilians (Green)
  • 1 Piat attached to a Gadna squad

The Israelis deploy first and move second. They deploy hidden anywhere north of Suleiman Road.

The winner is the side with the most squads inside the Notre Dame at the end of the game. The game ends when the Legion have taken 50% losses or at 1200 hours on the second day.

The Hospice and the Convent are building complexes. Furthermore troops in the Hospice count as in a bunker. The City Wall counts as a Hit-the-Dirt cliff with a Crossfire wall at the top, so troops can not move across it, and troops on top count as in cover.

Special Rule 4, The Moving Clock, is in use. The scenario starts at 1200 hours, pauses for night (from 2100 until 0600 the next day) and ends at 1200 hours on the second day. The clock advances one hour on 5+ on one die rolled at the end of each Israeli initiative.

This is a good scenario to use multiple level buildings. Probably even two levels (ground and roof) for the building complexes would be enough to give the flavour.

The Radar, 26 May 1948

During WWII The British had erected a tall radio mast near the Christian Arab village of Abu Gosh on the main Tel Aviv to Jerusalem highway. It became known as the “Radar” and upon the British evacuation in 1948 the facility was occupied by 80-90 Israelis of the Etzioni Brigade (the territorial Brigade of the Haganah assigned to Jerusalem).

On 26 May 1948 (Herzog, 1982, and Laffin,1982, although Lunt, 1999 says 24 May) a company of the Arab Legion’s 1st Mechanised Regiment under Lt. Adbudllah Falah cut through the barbed wire entanglements under heavy fire and stormed the position. Three Legionnaires died in the attack and 26 were wounded including Lt. Falah (who later died of his wounds). 13 Israelis were killed. Repeated Israeli counter-attacks were repelled by the Arab Legion defenders.

Ein Gev, 10 June 1948

Ein Gev was an Jewish settlement isolated on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. On 10 Jun 1948 a Syrian Battalion, with artillery support, were driven off by the 100 men and women defending it.

1 thought on “Scenario Ideas for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War”

  1. I stumbled upon your post after Googling: 1948 Arab-Israeli Wargame. I am very impressed with your scenario ideas and plan to try them out using Bolt Action.


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