1967: Sword of Israel
Scenario Preview, Part 7
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
The first edition of Panzer Grenadier (Modern): 1967 Sword of Israel pre-dated our use of what we call the story-arc format, where the scenarios are organized into chapters so they can tell the story of the (in this case) Six-Day War, with battle games to tie together the scenarios of each chapter (if you want to play them that way; you don’t have to).
The Playbook Edition of 1967 Sword of Israel uses that approach to turn the game into a historical study, and a much deeper gaming experience. If you care about the history in your games (and you actually play them), you’re going to like this approach.
Let’s have a look at the rest of the Jordanian scenarios. You can see the prevoius installments in Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six.
The West Bank
6 June 1967
Under the cover of darkness, the invasion of the West Bank began with an attempt to seize the high ground overlooking the Old Jerusalem Highway. The Jordanians felt secure behind their wire and minefields, and their attention was diverted toward the attacks earlier in the day near Jerusalem and in the Sinai. In 1948, the Arab Legion had successfully driven off Israeli attacks from this direction resulting in Jordan’s seizure of the West Bank. Surely the lines would hold once again.
The Israeli engineers breached the Jordanian minefields and wire quickly under cover of darkness. Thereafter, rather than assault straight ahead, the Israelis drove around the Jordanian position (hidden from view by darkness and hilly terrain), and assaulted them from the rear supported by a heavy bombardment and assisted by powerful searchlights illuminating the police station and monastery for the assaults. The dislocation caused by darkness and surprise, along with the rapid advance down the line of fortified positions led to a rather quick victory.
This is a small infantry-heavy scenario, with the Israelis on the attack against a Jordanian fortified hilltop. The Jordanians have some help this time – tough Egyptian commandos, battle-hardened veterans of the war in Yemen, Arab soldiers able to stand toe-to-toe with the Sons of David. They just don’t have nearly enough of them, but it’s going to be a hard fight.
6 June 1967
Aluf Mishne Moshe Bar-Kochva wanted to attack Jenin from the south, a hopefully unexpected direction based on the terrain and known Jordanian defenses. To do that he had to pass through the Dotan Valley. At 0300 he sent his tanks and some recon units ahead of the main force but they ran into a layered defense in depth.
The Jordanian independent tank battalions (“regiments” in the British parlance still used by the Royal Jordanian Army) operated Centurions rather than Pattons, and this difference came as a nasty shock to the Israelis. After quickly losing a number of vehicles to deadly Jordanian fire, the Israelis feigned a retreat, leaving some manned and fully functional tanks mixed in with the destroyed ones. When the Centurions pursued to mop up, they were caught in the flank and rear by the “destroyed” tanks. The assault against the remaining antitank guns and infantry took another two hours with more losses, but they finally opened the path to Jenin.
Finally, a use for those Jordanian Centurion pieces! The first edition missed this, giving the Jordanians M48 Pattons, so it’s good to get this right. That brings the action not only into better historical veracity, but gives the Jordanian player a potent weapon against the all-armor Israeli force on the attack (none of which is a match for the Centurions, but they have a huge edge in numbers).
Rescue at Kabatiya
6 June 1967
While Bar-Kochva’s armored infantry secured Jenin, he received word that his reconnaissance force had been cut off and surrounded in Kabatiya by the fast-advancing 40th Jordanian Armored Brigade. He quickly threw a plan together to break through to his recce team and rescue them.
The Jordanian Patton tanks, in hull-down positions, shot up the initial attacks by the Israeli Shermans. But the Israeli recon group boasted a powerful anti-tank capability, and the Jordanians were wary of attacking them. The IAF broke the resulting stalemate by raining bombs on the Jordanian tanks, allowing a relief force to make its way to Kabatiya and free the recce force. However, Bar-Kochva’s armored force had been spent and the Jordanians had blunted his advance.
Finally, a massive tank battle, and one where the Israelis have the numbers but the Jordanians have the better tanks (and have them in the better position). The Israelis are trying to rescue their trapped recon units, and get them past the Jordanian shooting gallery. That’s one tough order.
6 June 1967
The Israeli attack on the western point of the West Bank area would be carried out by the Shaham 5th Infantry Brigade. Opposing them, the 1st Princess Alia Infantry Brigade – one the Royal Jordanian Army’s tough Bedouin outfits – had dug in around the town of Kalkiliya protecting the road to Nablus. The Shaham Brigade spent the war’s first day demonstrating their intent in order to pin the Princess Alia Brigade in position while attacks occurred elsewhere. On the morning of the 6th, the assault began.
The leadership of the Princess Alia Brigade let their troops down. Despite ample warning of the Israeli attack, the Jordanian command did nothing to prepare the naturally strong position at Kalkiliya for defense. Instead, by 1400 the town was in IDF hands and troops were already headed down the wide-open road to Nablus.
This is a big scenario, an infantry assault against infantry defenders with both sides wielding a plethora of support weapons but very few tanks. The Jordanians are on close to an even footing here, but their plentiful artillery support is right there on the map and vulnerable to the Israelis.
Kufeir and Akaba
7 June 1967
Aluf Mishne Uri Ram’s 37th Armored Brigade had attacked southwest from the Mt. Gilboa area into the West Bank. At Kufeir on 6 June, he’d been stopped cold on the east side of the town by two companies of the Jordanian 40th Armored Brigade deployed in excellent positions. Even airstrikes right before nightfall had not dislodged the tenacious defenders. Ram waited patiently for nightfall to launch his next attack, hoping to catch Jordanians napping.
The Israelis opened fire on the Jordanian positions with their self-propelled artillery, jarring them from sleep. Then the Centurions began systematically shooting the Dragon’s Teeth apart while the artillery tried to keep the enemy Pattons buttoned up, and the tank engagement moved to point-blank range. Eventually the remaining Jordanians withdrew to the next town, Akaba, around 0400 where they were joined by the rest of their battalion. The Israelis followed up cautiously. As dawn broke, the IAF swept in again adding to the pressure on the dug-in Jordanians, who finally retreated after a very stubborn defense.
We wrap up the Jordanian section with a tank battle. The Jordanians expected much of the 40th Armored Brigade, the Royal Army’s West Bank showpiece unit (second only to the Royal Guard Brigade, which was not committed to action in 1967). And the scenario shows why: their morale is excellent, as is their materiel and they are well-led. But the Israelis bring more tanks, slow-moving but awesomely-armed and –armored Centurions, with infantry support and fearsomely high morale.
And that wraps up the war with Jordan. Next time, we move on to Syria.
You can order 1967: Sword of Israel (Playbook edition) right here.
Please allow an extra three weeks for delivery.
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.
Sign up for our newsletter right here. Your info will never be sold or transferred; we'll just use it to update you on new games and new offers.
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 new puppy. He misses his Iron Dog, Leopold.
Want to keep Daily Content free of third-party ads? You can send us some love (and cash) through this link right here.