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1967: Sword of Israel
Scenario Preview, Part 1

By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
May 2022

We’re re-issuing Panzer Grenadier (Modern) 1967: Sword of Israel in a new Playbook edition, and since that means the scenarios have to be laid out all over again, I decided to take the opportunity to go over them closely, to edit, re-write and re-develop where necessary.

We’ve brought the game to the same standards as our more recent Panzer Grenadier games: with the scenarios organized into chapters, with “battle games” that tie them together – you can still play them in any order you want, or play just one, but you can also play an entire chapter’s worth and then see how well you’ve fulfilled your side’s operational goals (which are, considering the situation, extremely aggressive for the Israelis).

I think the scenarios are much improved for the added attention, and for a situation like this – where one side has so much operational momentum and so many advantages (from numbers to artillery to air power to morale to leadership) – putting the individual battles into an operational context forces the Israeli player to keep winning the individual scenarios, and makes sure that the Egyptian/Jordanian/Syrian player always has a chance to derail the blue-and-white juggernaut.

So let’s have a look at the first chapter, which is all about the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Chapter One
Gaza


Israeli M48 Patton tanks of 7th Armored Brigade enter the Gaza Strip, 5 June 1967.

During the 1948 war, Egypt had seized the Gaza Strip, a small but very fertile and densely-populated area just to the north-east of Sinai. It was a hotbed of Palestinian political activity in 1967; that and its strategic position made its seizure one of the Israeli plan’s first objectives. Defending it was the Egyptian National Army’s 20th Infantry Division, a formation raised from Palestinian recruits.

Scenario One
Khan Yunis
5 June 1967
After weeks of increasing tension, Israel launched a surprise post-dawn attack on Egyptian airfields, crippling their air force. Shortly thereafter, the ground attack began. In the southern part of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) 7th Armored Brigade under the command of Aluf Mishne Gonen opened the Israeli attack from Kibbutz Nahal Oz to break into Khan Yunis, destroy the majority of its defenders, seize the coastal highway, and then force its way southward through the town in the direction of Rafah in preparation for the drive on El Arish.

Conclusion
Although many PLA fighters initially surrendered to the Israeli tank crews, the Israelis did not have a plan to deal with captives so they let many of them go. Thereafter, the Palestinians fought well, providing stiff resistance against the Israeli onslaught, though the other Egyptian division fared less well. The Israeli armor, after having run through the town several times, declared the enemy suppressed and massed at the south end of Khan Yunis for the subsequent assault on Rafah.

Notes
We start off with a scenario that has just one board, but lots of units including a powerful Israeli tank force. Time isn’t on their side, and that’s about the only thing the Egyptian defenders have working for them: slow down the Israelis and force them to make mistakes.

Scenario Two
Gaza City
5 June 1967
After successfully breaking through Khan Yunis, Aluf Mishne Reshef’s Gaza Task Force’s armored infantry brigade assaulted Gaza City from the south, catching the defenders facing the wrong way. Whether the 20th Infantry Division’s staff was unaware of the Israeli advance, or reluctant to order its troops to re-orient themselves lest they give in to panic once outside their fixed defenses, is unclear decades later.

Conclusion
The Palestinian division was caught completely by surprise. Some units – uniformly those able to fight from fixed positions – put up stout resistance and inflicted unexpectedly high casualties on the Israelis. But elsewhere the IDF’s carefully-planned advance went forward exactly as expected.

Notes
Though sometimes confused with the Palestine Liberation Army’s Ayn Jalut Brigade, the 20th Infantry Division was part of the Egyptian National Army, with mostly Egyptian officers and a rank-and-file recruited in the Gaza Strip (and given the number of the Ottoman Turkish’s army’s Palestinian heroes of the Gallipoli campaign). In this scenario the Israelis don’t have quite the firepower advantage, but they do still sport morale second only to the Norse Einherjar and a longer time span in which to work. They’ll need to pretty much wipe out the Egyptian forces without taking too many casualties: and it’s not the relative loss ratio that matters, so the Israeli has to be careful since the Arabs can lose every unit on the board and still win the game.

Scenario Three
Rafah North
5 June 1967
The Israeli 7th Armored Brigade made a brief stop to reorganize after the battle at Khan Yunis. Considered the elite of Israel’s armored forces, the brigade spearheaded Gen. Israel Tal’s assault on the strategic town of Rafah north of the El Arish highway. The Egyptians awaited behind a number of strong points not immediately obvious to the attacking Israelis.

Conclusion
Rafah was a tough nut to crack for the Israelis. Although the advance from the north bypassed most of the fixed defenses (these were oriented toward the east), the Egyptian troops fought well, holding the critical road junctions for several hours until the combined assaults from the north and south broke their will.

Notes
The Israelis have a tough mission here, but they have their heroic morale and overwhelming armor support on their side. The Egyptians are seemingly doomed, but this is not Panzer Grenadier: in Panzer Grenadier (Modern), infantry is much more of a danger to unsupported armor. The Egyptians have a large advantage in foot soldiers and they can hurt the Israeli armor badly if it goes charging off by itself.

Scenario Four
Rafah South
5 June 1967
The Israeli “Bar-On” Force consisting of two parachute battalions and a battalion and a half of tanks swept west from Kerem Shalom then drove north and east to catch the Egyptian 16th Mechanized Brigade before it could help its sister unit fighting in Rafah north of the El Arish road. While the Egyptians had placed minefields and sentries to alert them of attack, the Israelis came from an unexpected direction through challenging sand dunes and rocky patches that made for tough going.

Conclusion
Several Israeli units got lost or temporarily stuck in the sand dunes and rocky areas, leading to a piecemeal attack against the Egyptians. Only the Egyptian commanders’ lack of aggression and the combined pressure of attacks from north, south, and west allowed the Israelis to successfully take Rafah after a difficult fight. The paratroopers performed well as the most aggressive infantry units in the IDF, but they had little training in the armored infantry role which would hamper their effectiveness throughout the campaign.

Notes
Once again the Israelis have a strong tank force (eleven M48A2 platoons!) and stratospheric morale. They also have parity with the Egyptians in infantry, but the Israeli paratroopers are not “efficient,” a new concept in Panzer Grenadier (Modern). Without this label, the paras can’t cooperate with the tanks nearly as effectively as trained armored infantry.

Scenario Five
Kafr Shan
5 June 1967
Mordechai Bar-On commanding the elite Israeli Armor School Battalion sent a single Patton company of 13 tanks, leading one battalion of halftrack-mounted paratroopers, on a wide western hook through Kafr Shan and into Rafah South from the west. The trek across broken hardpan and sand dunes took quite a while. About a kilometer west of Kafr Shan the Israelis ran across the first Egyptian defenders.

Conclusion
The Egyptian Infantry and antitank guns were caught facing the wrong way and routed fairly quickly with almost no casualties, but the T-34 battalion put up a stiff fight. Eventually the tactical prowess of the Israelis gained the upper hand and the remaining Egyptian tanks pulled out of town to the north and escaped.

Notes
The Egyptians have parity in numbers but this time lack the benefit of fortifications, and are once again facing Israeli morale of Biblical proportions. But the Israelis have a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time in which to do it, which means the outgunned Egyptian tank battalion can knock them off schedule if skillfully handled.

You can order 1967: Sword of Israel (Playbook edition) right here.
Please allow an extra three weeks for delivery.

1967 Package
      1967: Sword of Israel (Playbook)
      IDF: Israel Defense Forces
Retail Price: $134.98
Package Price: $110
Gold Club Price: $88
You can experience the 1967 Package right here.
Please allow an extra three weeks for delivery.

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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published a great many books, games and articles on historical subjects; people are saying that some of them are actually good. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children, and his Iron Dog, Leopold.

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