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Operation Palmyra (Arabic: تدمر العملية Tadmir al-Emilyh) was an Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian air assault against the Israeli Dead Sea Works, the fourth-largest producer and supplier of potash products in the world, during the War of Attrition. It was carried out by Jordanian paratroopers and Egyptian-Syrian naval commandos, who took control of the plant for over a day before leaving with 46 captured Israeli soldiers. Disputed evidence suggests that radar equipment and data was also taken by the attacking forces.
- Main article: War of Attrition
Israel had launched the War of Attrition in order to weaken the United Arab Republic's hold on the territories in the Southern District it had captured during the 1967 Six Day War. While the war raged mainly along the Beersheba Line, Cairo was keen to show Israel that they could have the upper hand anywhere in the country and scare the Israeli leadership with the prospect of an all out conflict for which Israel was likely ill-prepared. Refusing to limit the war to the line, in February 1970 the United Arab Republic and Jordan launched the joint Operation Oudref with the aim of attacking the Israeli heartland to further instill fear in the nation.
The aim of Operation Palmyra was to capture Israeli POWs to be exchanged for Egyptian prisoners in Israel, to disrupt the industry of the Dead Sea Works, and to sabotage a local radar post which was deemed a threat to Arab civilian, merchant and military transport in the Dead Sea.
The task of taking the Dead Sea Works was assigned to the Jordanian Army's Al-Hussein bin Ali Airborne Brigade under the command of Amr al-Hasan. Its 30th Regiment, commanded by Lt. Colonel Ahmed Nour, and the brigade's elite reconnaissance company, commanded by Captain Kamel Mahmoud, were to land at the works. These were to be assisted Egyptian Sai'qa Commando operators, while additional paratroops were to be at hand at Ein Bokek and on nearby Egyptian Navy vessels.
The Israeli garrison at the Dead Sea Works was headquartered in the works' southern complex. The complex was defended by a fortified perimeter consisting of 9 outlying outposts and manned by a company of Israeli commandos. In all, 100 Israeli soldiers were present at the works, of which 60 were commandos and the rest Israeli Navy and technical personnel.