With the passing of 67 years since Operation “Ouvda” in which the Southern Negev was conquered by the IDF and which the most southern airbase in Israel is named after, Ouvda airbase commemorated the operation that opened the way to the Red Sea and in which the IAF played an important role
This past week, Ouvda Airbase, the southernmost airbase in Israel, commemorated 67 years since Operation “Ouvda”, which the airbase is named after. The operation began March 6, 1949 and ended March 10, 1949 with the famous raising of the “Ink Flag”. The operation gave Israel access to the Red Sea and throughout which the “Negev” and “Golani” infantry Divisions conquered the territories between Be’er Sheva and Eilat.
The late Yossef (Joe) Raanan, a colonel in the IAF and later senior official in the “Mossad” was one of the few sent to recon mission prior to the operation. “They went on foot before the IDF forces went in and searched for an area to build a landing strip. The same emergency landing strip was named “Abraham Field”, which was commanded by Col. Raanan, which was the ultimate gate into enemy territory that was used for bringing in forces, equipment, vehicles and weapons that were necessary for the success of the operation”.
In a few months
The year is 1949, the War of Independence is close to ending and Operation “Ouvda” is the last of its operations. In the beginning of the war, the Israeli air force was still in its beginning stages and was known as the Air Service, with only one squadron and small amount of man power. A year and a half later, at the end of the war, an organized air force was already active with five bases, headquarters, control units and the first anti-aircraft battalion. “The force developed incredibly fast. In the beginning of the war we barely had anything, and within months it became a big and modern air force”.
In addition to bringing in forces, equipment, vehicles and weapons, the IAF conducted intelligence sorties, searching for enemy forces and gathering intelligence for the IDF. The most important mission that was conducted in the operation was the logistic. In addition, the IAF had to prepare a landing strip in enemy territory all whilst in combat. These are skills that the IAF excels in and that point, was the point in which the base for these abilities was established.
“Responsibility to protect home”
Col. Harel, Ouvda Airbase Commander, explained the importance of commemorating Operation “Ouvda” almost seven decades later. “The IAF is a force whose heritage is a big part of what it is. Its heritage embodies an ethical world and a perspective on our time. It is extremely important that the Ouvda Airbase soldiers understand their responsibility to protect their home”.