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1948 Arab-Israeli War

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War (called by the Israelis the War of Independence and by Arabs as al Naqba, the catastrophe)

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See British Mandate of Palestine.

In 1936, the Arab leadership led by Haj Abd-el-Qadr Al-Husseini (the father of Faisal Husseini[?]) declared a general strike to protest the little Jewish immigration still allowed. One of the following two competing explanations are generally given for those riots, depending on the partiality of the speaker:

  • Discontent and feuds with the British leadership's tolerance of Jews; and
  • Muslim fears of becoming a minority in what they considered their territory.

Rather than inflicting economic damage to the Jewish population, the strike resulted in a sharp economic rise for the Jews of Palestine, the Arab leadership then began a series of violent actions, during which dozens of Jews were killed. The British administration did little to mitigate the riots.

This period was characterized by the rise of Jewish defence movements. The first of them, the Haganah (Hebrew for "defence") was accepted by the majority of the Jewish public. Although still a civilian force at that stage, it performed military-style operations, almost always targeted solely at military objectives. A group called the Irgun branched off Haganah, and a small faction of the Irgun then branched off into Lehi. The latter two organizations did not confine themselves to strictly military objectives, and were criticized because of their terrorist tactics. Civilian casualites inflicted by the Irgun were far smaller than those inflicted by counterpart Arab groups. The Irgun restricted itself to what it saw as Arab military targets; Arab militant groups often killed other Arabs and British nationals. One of the most famous Irgun actions was the King David Hotel bombing.

In 1939, after three years of rioting, the unrest was put down by the British administration with the help of Jewish volunteers from the Hagana. The British government issued a White Paper and, in effect, reversed their support of the Balfour Declaration by announcing an absolute limit of only 75,000 on future Jewish immigration to Palestine. This limit was maintained even during the Holocaust; many people hold that this decision contributed to the death of countless tens of thousands of Jews.

1947 November 29. The United Nations General Assembly approved a plan which partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Both Jews and Arabs criticised aspects of the plan. The Jewish population largely welcomed the plan, but the Arab leadership rejected it, turning to neighboring Arab nations to ask for their help in expelling the Jews from Palestine, in return for political control over its lands. See 1947 UN Partition Plan for more information on the plan.

Shortly after, the same leadership began to organize tribal bands from Arabs living in the former mandate in order to wage guerrilla war on Israelis. The British representatives, having no desire to maintain order and their force waning, effectively left the Jews and Arabs alone to fight between themselves. During the next six months, most of the fighting was be made using guerrilla tactics, small Arab and Jewish forces conducting brief gunfights at various spots, without achieving any territorial goal but for the protection of the de-facto limits. Some of the Arab fighting groups became the controversial Fedayeen, the forerunners of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

TODO: first period of the war (Civil War, Part I - Israeli defensive, Part II - Israeli offensive). Include reference to Deir Yassin.

See external links:
Israeli perspective (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/concepts/d3)
Palestinian perspective (http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story562)

1948 May 14. The State of Israel declared itself as an independent nation, stating in its Declaration of Independence that "We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness". It was quickly given diplomatic recognition by the US under President Truman[?]. Andrei Gromyko[?], the Soviet Union's UN ambassador, called for the UN to accept Israel as a member state. The UN approved on the same day, the Soviet Union doing the same three days later.

External links to Israeli sites

  • Declaration (http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/israel50/declarat)
  • Encounter (http://www.wzo.org.il/encountr/isrpray.htm)
  • Maps 1 (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/invade)
  • Maps 2 (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/arm)

Israel's defense as a state

1948 May 15. Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, and Egyptian troops invaded Israel and joined the arab guerrillas. A bitter war ensued.

'TODO: second period, defense against the Jordanians, Egyptians etc.'

1948 May 28. Two weeks after the creation of the state, the Haganah forces were declared an army, Israel Defence Force. Irgun and Lehi were merged into it as well (see Altalena[?]).

During the following months, the Syrian army was repelled, and so were guerrillas led by Kawkaji. In the south, an Egyptian attack was able to penetrate the civilian-manned defences of several Israeli civilian kibutzes, killing their inhabitants. This attack was stopped near Ashdod. A second axis of attack to the east was also blocked, at the expense of diverting forces from Jerusalem. Jerusalem with its Western Wall, Judaism's most holy site, as well as the mountain ridges to its north and south (what was to become known as the West Bank) were blocked by Jordanian forces, which occupied the remaining Arab portion of the Mandate. The Israeli militia groups managed not only to maintain their military control of the Jewish territories, but to actually expand their holdings, despite the efforts of the militaries of the far more numerous, and well established, Arab states.

TODO: operations on border with Egypt (and beyond it), final state, refugees


1949 Armistice Agreement

In 1949, in separate ceasefire agreements signed with Jordan, Syria and Egypt, Israel was able to draw its own borders, which represented a 50% gain over the UN partition proposal and have been known afterwards as the "Green Line". Israel occupied about 70% of the Mandatory Palestine, with the Gaza Strip and West Bank becoming Egyptian and Jordanian respectively, and Syria retaining the Golan Heights.

About 700,000 Arab refugees (See Israeli Map (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/IMAGES/REFUGE.JPG), French Map (http://mondediplo.com/maps/refugeespalestiniandpl2000) and Israeli Estimate (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/refuge)), and more than 600,000 Jewish refugees (See Map (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/IMAGES/REFS.GIF) and Israeli Estimate (http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/refs), were created during this conflict. Jewish refugees from Arab lands migrated to Israel, while Arab refugees were prevented from settling in neighbouring countries and have remained in refugee camps up to the time of writing.

The humiliation of the Arab armies at having been routed by the significantly smaller Jewish forces, together with the rising nationalist frenzy in Arab nations, contributed to rising hatred for the Jews living in Arab lands. The status of Jews in Arab states varied greatly from state to state. Some observers wish to maintain that the Jewish populations were more "prevented from leaving" than "expelled". Their civil liberties, too, were in many cases vastly inferior to of their Muslim fellow citizens. For example, in Yemen, Jews were and are prohibited from carrying weapons of any type, even to the point of prohibiting traditional ceremonial Yemeni knives, carried by a large portion of the Yemeni population. The net result was that after over two thousand years of living in Arab controlled countries, the atmosphere was sufficiently anti-Jewishly charged that almost to a man, entire communities of Jews in the hundreds of thousand felt they had no option but to take leave of old homes and move to the uncertainties of the new Jewish state of Israel in effect becoming "refugees" in everything but name. These fears were compounded by the Holocaust, which took place three years before the founding of the state of Israel.

Israel made efforts to allow Arab Jews to come to Israel. "Operation Magic Carpet" culminated a deal to transport 45,000 Yemeni Jews to Israel and "Operation Ezra and Nechemia" transported 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel. In both cases, the Arab states of origin had beforehand prohibitted their Jewish populations from leaving.

See http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Immigration/carpet and http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Immigration/ezra.

Egyptian Jews were expelled after Israel's 1956 invasion of the Sinai Peninsula, and in the context that some of them had participated in an Israel-sponsored bombing plot in 1953. And Morocco, the source of some 240,000 Jewish refugees, prohibited emigration to Israel until 1961.

Arabs Palestinians have staged annual demonstrations and protests on May 15 of each year, one day after the anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence. The popularity and number of participants in these annual al Naqba demonstrations has varied over time, though the increasing anti-Israeli sentiment in the Middle East has tended to increase the attendance in recent years. During the al-Aqsa Intifada incited by the PLO after the failure of the Camp David 2000 Summit, the attendance at the demonstrations against Israel have increased exponentially.

Peace and reconciliation

Despite the long history of conflict between Israelis and Arabs, there are many people working on peaceful solutions that respect the rights of peoples on all sides. See Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs

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