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  • 1. Essential HistoriesThe Arab-Israeli ConflictThe Palestine War 1948 OSPREYEfraim Karsh PUBLISHING
  • 2. First published in Great Britain in 2002 by Osprey Publishing, For a complete list of titles available from Osprey PublishingElms Court, Chapel Way. Botley, Oxford OX2 9LR UK please contact:Email: Osprey Direct UK. PO Box 140.© 2002 Osprey Publishing Limited Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 2FA, UK. Email: rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposeof private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under Osprey Direct USA. c/o MBI Publishing.the Copyright, Design and Patents Act. 1988, no part of this PO Box 1,729, Prospect Ave,publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or Osceola, Wl 54020, USAtransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, Email: info@ospreydirectusa.comchemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, recording or www.ospreypublishing.comotherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyrightowner. Enquiries should be made to the Publishers.Every attempt has been made by the publisher to secure theappropriate permissions for material reproduced in this book. Ifthere has been any oversight we will be happy to rectify thesituation and written submission should be made to thePublishers.ISBN I 84176 372 IEditor: Sally RawlingsDesign: Ken Vail Graphic Design. Cambridge. UKCartography by The Map StudioIndex by Alison WorthingtonPicture research by Image Select InternationalOrigination by Grasmere Digital Imaging, Leeds, UKPrinted and bound in China by L Rex Printing Company Ltd.02 03 04 05 06 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I
  • 3. EFRAIM KARSH is Professorand Head of the MediterraneanStudies Programme at KingsCollege; University of London.He has held various academicposts at the Sorhonne, theLondon School of Economics,Columbia University, HelsinkiUniversity and Tel-AvivUniversity. Professor Karsh haspublished extensively on MiddleEastern affairs, Soviet foreignpolicy and European neutrality. PROFESSOR ROBERT ONEILL, AO D.PHIL. (Oxon), Hon D. Litt.(ANU), FASSA, Fr Hist S, is the Series Editor of the Essential Histories. His wealth of knowledge and expertise shapes the seriescontent and provides up-to-the- minute research and theory. Born in 1936 an Australian citizen, heserved in the Australian army(1955-68) and has held a numberof eminent positions in historycircles, including the ChicheleProfessorship of the History ofWar at All Souls College,University of Oxford, 1987-2001,and the Chairmanship of theBoard of the Imperial WarMuseum and the Council of theInternational Institute forStrategic Studies, London.He is the author of many booksincluding works on the GermanArmy and the Nazi party, andthe Korean and Vietnam wars.Now based in Australia on hisretirement from Oxford he isthe Chairman of the Councilof the Australian StrategicPolicy Institute.
  • 4. Essential HistoriesThe Arab-Israeli ConflictThe Palestine War 1948 OSPREYEfraim Karsh PUBLISHING
  • 5. Essential HistoriesThe Arab-Israeli ConflictThe Palestine War 1948
  • 6. Contents Introduction 7 Chronology 9 Background to war The burden of history 13 Warring sides Strengths and weaknesses of Arabs and Jews 22 Outbreak The Arabs of Palestine will never submit to partition 29 The fighting From inter-communal strife to inter-state war 34 Portrait of a soldier Trapped on the battlefield 69 The world around war The great game 72 Portrait of a civilian Leaving Jerusalem 80 How the war ended From ceasefire to armistice 82 Conclusion and consequences Perpetuating the Arab-Israeli conflict 87 Further reading 93 Index 94
  • 7. IntroductionOn 29 November 1947, the United Nations supported the resolution, 13 voted againstGeneral Assembly passed a resolution calling and 10 abstained, including Great Britain,for the partition of Palestine into two which had ruled Palestine since the earlyindependent states - one Jewish, the other 1920s under a League of Nations Mandate.Arab - linked in an economic union. The For Jews all over the world this was theCity of Jerusalem was to be placed under an fulfilment of a millenarian yearning forinternational regime, with its residents given national rebirth in the ancestral homeland.the right to citizenship in either the Jewish For Arabs it was an unmitigated disaster, anor the Arab states. Thirty-three UN members act of betrayal by the international The Middle East, 1948
  • 8. 8 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948community that surrendered an integral part after the proclamation of the State of Israel,of the Arab world to foreign invaders. In and involved a concerted attack by theTel-Aviv, crowds were dancing in the streets. armed forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq,In the Arab capitals there were violent Transjordan, Lebanon, as well as a Saudidemonstrations. We are solidly and contingent, on the nascent Jewish state. Itpermanently determined to fight to the last ended on 20 July 1949 with the signing ofman against the existence in our country of the last of the armistice agreements betweenany Jewish state, no matter how small it is, Israel and its Arab neighbours.Jamal al-Husseini, Vice-President of the Arab By the time the fighting was over, Israel,Higher Committee (AHC), the effective albeit at the exorbitant human cost of 1 pergovernment of the Palestinian Arabs, told cent of its population, had survived the Arabthe General Assembly as it was about to cast attempt to destroy it at birth and had assertedits vote. If such a state is to be established, it its control over wider territories than thosecan only be established over our dead assigned to it by the UN Partition Resolution.bodies. And an AHC circular was even more The Palestinian Arab community wasoutspoken. The Arabs have taken into their profoundly shattered, with about half of itsown hands the final solution of the Jewish population becoming refugees in other partsproblem, it read. The problem will be of Palestine and the neighbouring Arab states.solved only in blood and fire. The Jews will The political implications of what wouldsoon be driven out. come to be known in Arab political discourse Thus began the Palestine War, probably as al-Nakba, the catastrophe, wouldthe most important Middle-Eastern armed reverberate throughout the Middle East forconfrontation since the destruction of the decades. Already before the end of hostilitiesOttoman Empire and the creation of a new the president of Syria was overthrown by aregional order on its ruins in the wake of the military coup, while the king of EgyptFirst World War. It was to be divided into followed suit in the summer of 1952. Withintwo distinct phases. The first began on two years of the end of the Palestine War,30 November 1947, the day after the King Abdallah of Jordan, the foremost Arabadoption of the Partition Resolution, and combatant during the conflict, wasended on 14 May 1948 with the termination assassinated, as were the prime ministers ofof the British Mandate. It was essentially a Egypt and Lebanon. For decades inter-Arabcivil war, conducted under the watchful eye politics would be dominated by the problemand occasional intervention of the British of Palestine as the Arab states and theMandatory authorities, in which the Palestinians sought to undo the consequencesPalestinian Arab community, assisted by a of the Palestine War and bring about Israelssizeable pan-Arab irregular force, sought to demise by military, political and economicprevent its Jewish counterpart from laying means. Palestine and the self-respect of thethe foundation of statehood in line with the Arabs must be recovered, the prominentUN resolution. The second phase started on Palestinian leader Musa Alami wrote in 1949.the night of 14-15 May 1948, a few hours Without Palestine there is no life for them.
  • 9. Chronology1917 2 November British Government rest. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and a issues the Balfour Declaration corridor leading them to the supporting the establishment in Mediterranean Sea to remain a Palestine of a national home for the British Mandatory zone Jewish people 1938 November Wood head Royal1920 March Britain awarded the Mandate Commission: recommends the for Palestine at the San Remo shelving of the Peel Partition Plan conference 1939 May A White Paper restricts Jewish April Arab riots in Jerusalem. Five immigration to no more than Jews killed and 211 wounded 15,000 per year during the next1921 March British Government excludes five-year period; after that it would Transjordan from the prospective occur only with Arab consent. Jewish national home (though not Purchase of land by Jews is from the Palestine Mandate) prohibited in some areas, restricted April Hajj Amin al-Husseini in others appointed Mufti of Jerusalem 1942 May A Zionist conference at the May Arab riots in Palestine. Ninety Biltmore Hotel, New York, demands Jews killed and hundreds wounded that Palestine be established as a1922 June A British White Paper Jewish Commonwealth integrated depreciates the nature of the in the structure of the new prospective national Jewish home; democratic world limits Jewish immigration to the 1946 1 May An Anglo-American economic absorption capacity of Commission of Inquiry recommends the country the opening of Palestine to1929 August Arab rioters kill 133 Jews and 100,000 Jewish refugees. wound hundreds more Recommendation rejected by British1930 October A White Paper recommends Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin harsh restrictions on Jewish June A pan-Arab summit in immigration and purchase of land Bludan (Syria) adopts a series of1936 April A 10-member Arab Higher measures to prevent the creation of Committee established as the a Jewish state effective leadership of the Palestinian 1947 March Britain refers the Palestine Arabs; a general Arab uprising begins problem to the UN October Uprising temporarily 31 August UN Special Committee on suspended at the request of Arab Palestine (UNSCOP) recommends the leaders earliest possible termination of the1937 July A Royal Commission of Inquiry, British Mandate. A majority report headed by Lord Peel, recommends suggests the partition of Palestine into the termination of the Mandate and an Arab state, a Jewish state, and an the partition of Palestine into two internationalised city of Jerusalem - states: an Arab state, united with all linked in an economic union. A Transjordan, in some 85 per cent of minority report recommends an this territory, and a Jewish state in the independent federal state
  • 10. 10 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 16-19 September Pan-Arab summit 15-16 January A platoon of in Sofar (Lebanon). Urges the Arab 35 Jewish fighters sent to reinforce states to open their doors to Etzion Bloc wiped out Palestinian children, women, and 20 January ALA attack on Yechiam. the elderly and fend for them, should Failed the developments in Palestine so 1-15 February Jewish retaliatory require strikes in Haifa, Jerusalem and Sasa 29 November UN General Assembly 16 February ALA offensive against endorses UNSCOPs majority Tirat-Zvi. Failed with heavy casualties recommendation on the partition 22 February Arab car bomb explodes of Palestine in Jewish Jerusalem. Fifty people 30 November Arab violence begins. killed, hundreds wounded Eight Jews killed, others wounded 2-4 March Arab attacks on Magdiel 1 December AHC proclaims a and Ramot-Naftali. Failed three-day nationwide strike 11 March Arab car bomb destroys 2 December Arab mob destroys the Jewish national headquarters in new Jewish commercial centre in Jerusalem Jerusalem 17 March Large Arab arms convoy 4 December Arabs attack on Efal: the destroyed in a battle near Haifa first large-scale attempt to storm a 19 March US proposes suspension of Jewish neighbourhood. Failed Partition Plan and a temporary 8 December Arab assault on Hatikva international trusteeship for Palestine quarter in south Tel-Aviv. Failed with 27 March Jewish convoy from heavy casualties Nahariya to Yechiam ambushed. 8-17 December Arab League summit Forty-two fighters killed in Cairo. Decides to contribute 27-28 March A large Jewish convoy one million Egyptian pounds and returning from Etzion Bloc to 10,000 rifles to the Palestine war Jerusalem ambushed near Nabi effort Daniel. Jewish fighters evacuated by 12 December Jewish car bomb near British army. Weapons and vehicles the Old City in Jerusalem. Twenty lost to Arabs Arabs killed and five wounded 31 March Jewish convoy to 14 December Arab Legion attacks a Jerusalem ambushed. Seventeen Jewish supply convoy to Ben-Shemen, people killed killing 12 people 6-15 April Operation Nachshon: 18 December Eight Arabs killed in a Jewish offensive to open the road to Jewish retaliatory action against the Jerusalem Galilean village of Khasas 4-12 April ALA offensive against 30 December Irgun bomb kills six Mishmar-Haemek. Failed with heavy Arab workers near the Haifa oil losses refinery. Arab workers at the plant 8 April The prominent Palestinian kill 39 Jewish workers military commander Abd al-Qader1948 4 January Lehi blows up the al-Husseini killed headquarters of the Jaffa National 9 April Irgun and Lehi forces occupy Committee Deir Yasin. Some 100 people killed 10 January Arab Liberation Army 10 April Muslim Brothers attack (ALA) attack on Kfar-Szold. Failed Kfar-Darom. Failed 14 January Large-scale Arab attack 13 April Arabs ambush Jewish on Etzion Bloc. Failed with heavy medical convoy in Jerusalem. Some casualties 80 nurses and doctors killed
  • 11. Chronology 11 13-16 April Druze offensive against 17 May Egyptian forces enterRamat-Yohanan. Failed Beersheba. Move northwards to the 15-21 April Operation Harel: three outskirts of Jerusalemlarge supply convoys break through 16-19 May Israeli raids on militaryto Jewish Jerusalem targets in Syria and Lebanon 18 April Tiberias falls to the Hagana. 17-18 May Israeli forces capture AcreArab population evacuated at their 18 May Syrian forces occupyrequest Zemakh, Masada and Shaar-Hagolan21-22 April Haifa captured by the 20 May Large-scale Syrian assault onHagana. Arab leaders refuse to Deganiya. Failed with heavy casualties.surrender and order the evacuation of UN appoints Count Folke Bernadottethe citys Arab population of Sweden as Mediator for Palestine22-30 April Operation Jebusite: 19-24 May Egyptian attack onJewish offensive to secure outlying Yad-Mordechai. Settlement capturedJerusalem neighbourhoods. Failed to after defenders withdrawaloccupy Nabi Samuel; seized Sheikh 21-25 May E g y p t i a n - TransjordanianJarrah but relinquished control at attack on Ramat-Rahel. FailedBritish demand; captured Qatamon 21-27 May Egyptian attack on1-12 May Arab attacks on Galilee Negba. Failedkibbutzim (Dan, Dafna, Kfar-Szold, 22 May Israeli forces completeRamot-Naftali, Maayan-Baruch). occupation of western GalileeFailed. Operation Yiftach: Hagana 24 May Israeli forces recapturecaptures Arab villages and towns in Shaar-Hagolan and Masadaeastern Galilee in anticipation of the 25 May An Iraqi attack in theArab invasion direction of Netanya. Failed.4-15 May Operation Barak: capture Operation Ben-Nun A: Israeli attackof Arab villages in the southern on the Latrun fortress. Failed withsector, in preparation for Arab heavy casualtiesinvasion 28 May The Israel Defence Forces8-18 May Operation Maccabee: (IDF) established. Jewish Quarter inJewish offensive to clear the road to the Old City of Jerusalem falls toJerusalem. Partial success Arab Legion11 May Jewish forces capture Safed 30 May Operation Ben-Nun B:11-12 May Muslim Brothers attack Second Israeli attack on Latrun. Failedon Kfar-Darom. Failed 2 June Egyptian attack on Negba.12 May Jewish forces occupy Beisan Failed13 May Jaffa surrenders to the 3-4 June Israeli forces occupy Jenin.Hagana. Arab Legion occupies the Dislodged by IraqisEtzion Bloc. Dozens of civilians and 6 June Combinedfighters killed after surrendering Syrian-Lebanese-ALA force captures14 May Termination of the British MalkiyaMandate over Palestine. Proclamation 6 June First convoy to Jerusalemof the State of Israel through Burma Road15 May Armies of Egypt, Syria, 6-7 June Egyptian forces occupyTrans Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq Nitzanim, some 30 kilometres southinvade Israel. Egyptian air force of Tel-Avivbombs Tel-Aviv. Egyptian attacks on 7-8 June Operation Yitzhak: IsraeliKfar-Darom and Nirim. Failed attack on Isdud. Failed15-22 May Iraqi attacks on Gesher 9 June Iraqi army occupies the head-and the castle of Belvoir. Failed waters of the Yarkon River at Ras el-Ein
  • 12. 12 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 10 June Syrians occupy Mishmar- 18 July Second truce begins Hayarden. Fail to capture Ein-Gev and 18 July-30 November Intermittent Ramot-Naftali fighting in Jerusalem 9-10 June Operation Yoram: Third 22 July Egyptians block Israeli Israeli attack on Latrun. Failed communications with the Negev 10-11 June Israeli forces capture a 4-8 August Egyptians prevent Israeli number of villages in southern sector convoys to the Negev in but fail to occupy the strategic police contravention of truce terms fort of Iraq Sueidan 17 September Bernadotte 11 June Four-week truce begins assassinated by the Lehi group. 8 July Egyptians resume fighting. Ralph Bunche appointed Acting Kfar-Darom vacated Mediator 9-14 July Operation Brosh: Israeli 20 September The Bernadotte Plan attempt to dislodge Syrians from published by the UN Mishmar-Hayarden. Failed 15 October-5 November Operation 9-18 July Operation Dekel: IDF Yoav: Israeli offensive drives capture central Galilee (Nazareth Egyptians from the coastline and the falls on 16 July) Judean and Hebron Hills. Captures 10 July Iraqis drive the IDF from Beersheba and traps an Egyptian the Jenin environs brigade in Faluja Pocket 10-15 July Egyptian attack on Negba, 29-31 October Operation Hiram: Beerot-Yitzhak, Julis, and Ibdis. Failed Israeli offensive expels ALA and with heavy casualties Syrian forces from Upper Galilee. 11-12 July Operation Danny: IDF Sweeps into Lebanon captures Lydda, Ramie, and a string 5 November The IDF captures of Arab villages in the central front, Majdal and Yad-Mordechai including Ras el-Ein. Failed to occupy 9 November IDF occupies Iraq Latrun Sueidan 16-17 July Operation Qedem: Israeli 22 December-2 January 1949 attempt to break into the Old City. Failed Operation Horev: IDF expel Egyptians 17-18 July OperationDeath to the from Israeli territory and invade the Invader: IDF open a corridor to Sinai Peninsula. Withdrawal under besieged Negev settlements international pressure
  • 13. Background to warThe burden of history Wars are much like road accidents, theeminent British historian A. J. P. Taylorfamously quipped. They have a general causeand particular causes at the same time. Evenroad accident is caused, in the last resort, bythe invention of the internal combustion engineand by mens desire to get from one place toanother ... But a motorist, charged withdangerous driving, would be ill-advised if hepleaded the existence of motor cars as his soledefence. The police and courts do not weighprofound causes. They seek a specific cause foreach accident - error on the part of the driver-excessive speed; drunkenness; faulty brakes; badroad surface. So it is with wars. Taylor was writing about the origins ofthe Second World War, but no modern-dayconflict would seem to epitomise thisintricate linkage between past and presentmore than the 1948 Palestine War. At adeeper level, the roots of this conflict stretchback to the Roman destruction of Jewishstatehood in the land that has since come tobe known as Palestine. Since then, exile and On 2 November 1917 the British Foreign Secretary,dispersion have become the hallmark of Arthur James Balfour informed Lord Rothschild of hisJewish existence. Even in its ancestral governments support for theestablishment in Palestinehomeland the Jewish community was of a national home for the Jewish people. (Ann Ronanrelegated to a small minority under a long Picture Library)succession of foreign occupiers - Byzantines,Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Mamluks and homeland, or Zion, occupied a focal place inOttoman Turks - who inflicted repression their collective memory for millennia andand dislocation upon Jewish life. At the became an integral part of Jewish religioustime of the Muslim occupation of Palestine ritual. Moreover, Jews began returning toin the seventh century, the Jewish Palestine from the earliest days of dispersion,community in the country numbered some mostly on an individual basis, but also on a200,000; by the 1880s it had been reduced wide communal scale. The expulsion of theto about 24,000, or some five per cent of Jews from Spain in 1492, for example,the total population. brought in its wake a wave of new This forced marginalisation immigrants; an appreciable influx ofnotwithstanding, not only was the Jewish religious Jews from eastern Europe occurredpresence in Palestine never totally severed, in the late eighteenth century, the samebut the Jews longing for their ancestral from Yemen 100 years later.
  • 14. 14 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 In the 1880s, however, an altogether RIGHT In March 1921 the British excludedTransjordandifferent type of immigrant began arriving: from the territory of the prospective Jewish national home, making Emir Abdallah Ibn Hussein of thethe young nationalist who rejected diaspora Hashemite family its effective ruler In the followinglife and sought to restore Jewish national decades Abdallah would doggedly seek to incorporateexistence in the historic homeland. Dozens Palestine into h i s Transjordanian emirate. (The State ofof committees and societies for the Israel: The National Photo Collection)settlement of the Land of Israel mushroomedin Russia and eastern Europe, to be November 1917, in which the Britishtransformed before long into a fully fledged Government endorsed the establishment inpolitical movement known as Zionism. Palestine of a national home for the Jewish In August 1897 the First Zionist Congress people and pledged to use its bestwas held in the Swiss town of Basle, under endeavours to facilitate the achievement ofthe chairmanship of Theodore Herzl, a this object, it being clearly understood thatyoung and dynamic Austro-Hungarian nothing shall be done which may prejudicejournalist. A milestone in modern Jewish and the civil and religious rights of existingMiddle-Eastern history, the congress defined non-Jewish communities in Palestine,the aim of Zionism as the creation of a generated no immediate antagonism. It tookhome for the Jewish people in Palestine to be one full year for the first manifestation ofsecured by public law. It also established local opposition to emerge in the form of ainstitutions for the promotion of this goal. petition by a group of Palestinian dignitariesBy the outbreak of the First World War in and nationalists proclaiming their loyalty to1914, the Jewish community in Palestine (or the Arab government established inthe Yishuv as it was commonly known) had Damascus in the wake of the First Worldgrown to some 85,000-100,000 people, War. But then, the head of the verynearly 15 per cent of the total population. government to which they swore their Palestine at the time did not exist as a allegiance, Emir Faisal Ibn Hussein, theunified geopolitical entity; rather, it was celebrated hero of the Great Arab Revoltdivided between the Ottoman province of against the Ottoman Empire and theBeirut in the north and the district of effective leader of the nascent Arab nationalJerusalem in the south. Its local inhabitants, movement, evinced no hostility towards thelike the rest of the Arabic-speaking Balfour Declaration. On the contrary, incommunities throughout the region viewed January 1919 he signed an agreement withthemselves as subjects of the Ottoman Dr Chaim Weizmann, head of the ZionistEmpire rather than as members of a wider movement, expressing support for theArab Nation bound together by a shared fullest guarantees for carrying into effect thelanguage, religion, history or culture. They British Governments Declaration of thewere totally impervious to the nationalist 2nd November 1917 and for the adoption ofmessage of the handful of secret Arab all necessary measures ... to encourage andsocieties operating throughout the empire stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestineprior to the First World War. Their on a large scale.immediate loyalties were parochial - to ones This is not what happened. No sooner hadclan, tribe, village, town, or religious sect - the ink dried on the agreement than Faisal,which co-existed alongside their overarching under the influence of his nationalist officers,submission to the Ottoman sultan-caliph in reneged on this historic promise. Moreover,his capacity as the religious and temporal on 8 March 1920 the emir was crowned byhead of the world Muslim community. his supporters as King Faisal I of Syria, Consequently, the growing Jewish within its natural boundaries, includingpresence in Palestine encountered no Palestine, and the newly installed monarchwidespread opposition beyond the odd local had no intention of allowing the Jewishdispute. Even the Balfour Declaration of national movement to wrest away any part of
  • 15. Background to war 15
  • 16. 16 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948his kingdom. Indeed, the crowning ceremony Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and hiswas followed by violent demonstrations in half-brother, Hajj Amin, presented his Palestine as rumours spread regarding the candidacy to the prestigious post. He failedcountrys imminent annexation to Syria. owing to unsatisfactory religious credentials,These culminated in early April 1920 in a but his family applied heavy pressure on thepogrom in Jerusalem in which five Jews were High Commissioner, with one of the three killed and 211 wounded. short-listed candidates stepping down in his Though in July 1920 Faisal was favour. Having received Hajj Amins pledge tooverthrown by the French, his brief reign in use his familys prestige to restore calm to theSyria delineated the broad contours of the country, Samuel relented and in April 1921 nascent Arab-Israeli conflict for decades to appointed him to Palestines highest Islamiccome. It did so by transforming the bilateral post. In January 1922 al-Husseini consolidateddispute between Arabs and Jews in Palestine his power still further by establishing theinto a multilateral Arab-Jewish conflict, and, Supreme Muslim Council (SMC), whichno less importantly, by making physical oversaw all religious appointments in theforce the foremost instrument of political countrys Islamic community. In subsequentdiscourse. In May 1921 Arab riots were years, the Mufti quickly developed into therenewed on a far wider scale than the foremost Palestinian Arab political figure,previous year, leaving some 90 Jews dead cowering the feeble voices in favour ofand hundreds wounded. This paled in peaceful co-existence and putting hiscomparison to the wave of violence that followers on a relentless collision course witherupted in the summer of 1929. Originating the Zionist religious incitement over Jewish prayers For quite some time this confrontationalat the Wailing Wall, a remnant of King approach seemed to be working. ThoughSolomons Temple and Judaisms holiest site, accepting the Mandate for Palestine by MarchArab violence quickly spread from Jerusalem 1920, with a view to putting into effect theto engulf the entire country, resulting in the declaration originally made on November 2,death of 133 Jews and the wounding of 1917, by the British Government, andhundreds more. A particularly gruesome fate adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favourbefell the ancient Jewish community of of the establishment in Palestine of aHebron, dating back to biblical times, where national home for the Jewish people, the67 people were brutally slaughtered by their British quickly excluded the territory ofArab neighbours, many dozens of others Transjordan from the prospective Jewishwere wounded, property ransacked, and national home (though not from thesynagogues desecrated. Palestine Mandate), making Emir Abdallah The driving force behind the violence was Ibn Hussein, Faisals elder brother, thethe young and militant religious leader Hajj effective ruler of this territory. In June 1922Amin al-Husseini. Scion of a prominent the British went further in distancingJerusalem family, Husseini served in the themselves from the Balfour Declaration byOttoman army during the war, after which issuing a White Paper depreciating thehe became an ardent proponent of nature of the prospective national JewishPalestines incorporation into Greater Syria. home and seeking to limit JewishHaving played a major role in inciting the immigration in line with the economicApril 1920 riots, he was sentenced by a capacity of the country. Eight years later, inBritish military court to 15 years response to the Arab riots of 1929, anotherimprisonment, but managed to flee the White Paper advocated even harshercountry, and in September 1920 was restrictions on immigration and land sales topardoned by Sir Herbert Samuel, the first Jews, though these recommendations wereBritish High Commissioner for Palestine. A swiftly disowned by Prime Minister Ramsayyear later, following the death of Kamil al- MacDonald in response to Zionist pressure.
  • 17. Background to war 17 The Arabs remained defiant. In October Mandatory zone. To reduce future friction1933 a new cycle of violence erupted, between the two communities, thefollowed three years later by a general commission proposed a land and populationuprising. By now the Mufti had consolidated exchange between the Jewish and the Arabhis grip over Palestinian Arab politics and states, similar to that effected betweenmarginalised the more moderate elements Turkey and Greece in the wake of thewithin the leadership, headed by the First World War.Nashashibi clan. Capitalising on mounting After a heated debate, the ZionistArab fears of Jewish immigration - which leadership gave the plan its qualifiedintensified in the early 1930s following the support. The AHC and the Arab governmentsNazi rise to power in Germany and rampant dismissed it out of hand, insisting instead onanti-Semitism in Poland - and on surging the creation of an Arab-dominated unitarynationalist sentiments in the neighbouring state in which the Jews would remain a smallArab states, Hajj Amin had little difficulty minority. The only Arab leader to havein setting Palestine on fire. In April 1936 a welcomed the plan was Abdallah, who10-member Arab Higher Committee (AHC) viewed the unification between thewas established as the effective national prospective Arab state and Transjordan as aleadership, and an indefinite general strike first step towards the vast Arab empire thatwas declared. This was accompanied by he had been striving to create throughoutattacks on Jewish neighbourhoods his career.throughout the country, as well as on The uprising was thus renewed withBritish forces, by local guerrilla bands and increased vehemence, only now it was alsoArab volunteers from the neighbouring directed against the Muftis internal Arabcountries, headed by Fawzi al-Qawuqji, a opposition, especially the Nashashibis. Forformer officer in the Ottoman army. their part, the British sought to calm the In October 1936 the uprising was situation through the simultaneous use of thesuspended at the request of a number of stick and the carrot. On the one hand, theyArab leaders, notably Emir Abdallah of suppressed the uprising with crude force -Transjordan, King Ghazi of Iraq and Saudi imposing collective punishments,Arabias King Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud. In return, bombarding villages and executing guerrillas.the British Government approved only The AHC was outlawed, and the Mufti, who 1,800 Jewish entry permits for the next was sacked from the presidency of thesix-month period, of the 11,200 requested by Supreme Muslim Council, fled the countrythe Zionist movement. Far more importantly, together with some of his leading chieftains.a Royal Commission of Inquiry, headed by At the same time, the British moved closerLord Peel, was established to study the to the Arab position by backtracking on thePalestine problem and to suggest possible idea of partition. Moreover, on 17 May 1939,ways for its resolution. When its as the clouds of war gathered over Europe,recommendations were published in July they issued yet another White Paper which1937, they proved to be nothing short of restricted Jewish immigration to no morerevolutionary. Viewing Jewish and Arab than 15,000 per year during the nextnational aspirations as irreconcilable under five-year period; after that it would occurthe terms of the Palestine Mandate, the only with Arab consent. Purchase of land bycommission suggested its abandonment Jews was prohibited in some areas, restrictedand the partition of Palestine into two states: in others. The White Paper also envisaged anan Arab state, united with Transjordan, in independent state within a decade, in whichsome 85 per cent of this territory, and a the Jews would comprise no more thanJewish state in the rest. Jerusalem, Bethlehem one-third of the total population.and a corridor leading them to the World Jewry responded with vehementMediterranean Sea were to remain a British indignation to what it saw as the subversion
  • 18. 18 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948of Jewish national revival in Palestine and of the Peel Commission and Winstonthe abandonment of European Jewry to their Churchill, who viewed the White Paper as aNazi persecutor as did a number of British low-grade gasp of a defeatist hour. Yet thepoliticians, such as the surviving members Arabs were not satisfied with this major achievement, demanding the immediate creation of an Arab state in Palestine, theIn the spring of 1936 the Palestinian Arabs mounted a complete cessation of Jewish immigrationgeneral uprising, which was to continue intermittently forthe next three years before being suppressed by the and a review of the status of every Jew whoBritish authorities. Here British troops impose a curfew in had entered the country after 1918.the Old City of Jerusalem. (The State of IsraehThe The outbreak of the Second World WarNational Photo Collection) temporarily shelved this issue, but the
  • 19. Background to war 19struggle over the White Paper was resumedimmediately after the war. Much to Jewish The United Nationsdisappointment, not only did the Labour Partition PlanGovernment, which came to power in July1945, fail to live up to its pre-electionpro-Zionist stance but it turned out to be abitter enemy of the Jewish national cause.The White Paper restrictions were thus keptin place and the Jews were advised byForeign Secretary Ernest Bevin not to get toomuch at the head of the queue. Dozens of thousands of Holocaust survivors who chose to ignore the warning and to brave the British naval blockade were incarcerated in Cyprus for years. When in August 1945 US President Harry Truman endorsed the Zionist demand for the immediate admission of 150,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine, Bevin sought to nip the idea in the bud by suggesting an Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry to examine what could be done immediately to ameliorate the position of the Jews now in Europe. Yet when the following year the commission unanimously recommended the issue of 100,000 immigration certificates and the abolition of restrictions on Jewish purchase of land the British Government refused to comply.
  • 20. 20 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 The alarmed Zionists were quick to al-Husseini, who returned to the Palestinianrespond. Already on 6 May 1942, as news of helm after having spent most of the war inthe real magnitude of the Nazi atrocities Nazi Germany collaborating with Hitler,began to filter through to Britain and the vowed from his Cairo headquarters that weUnited States, and as the British Government would rather die than accept minority rightswas adamant that all practicable steps in a prospective Jewish state. In a message toshould be taken to discourage illegal President Truman, King Ibn Saud warnedimmigration into Palestine, a Zionist that the Arabs are determined to wage warconference at the Biltmore Hotel in New with the same determination and force asYork decided that Britain could no longer during the crusades, while the secretary-be trusted to discharge its Mandatory general of the Arab League, Abd al-Rahmanobligations, and that Palestine be Azzam, promised to defend Palestine noestablished as a Jewish Commonwealth matter how strong the opposition and nointegrated in the structure of the new matter what means are used by the partitiondemocratic world. Now that the Labour supporters. We will ultimately beGovernment seemed to have vindicated this victorious, he vowed confidently. You willstark prognosis, the Zionist movement achieve nothing with talk of compromiseembarked on a combined military and or peace, he told a secret delegation ofpolitical struggle for Jewish statehood. The peace-seeking Zionists in September 1947:foremost Jewish underground resistanceorganisation, the Hagana (Defence), resorted For us there is only one test, the test ofto shows of force such as the destruction of strength ... We will try to rout you. I am not sureroads and bridges and obstruction of British we will succeed, but we will try. We succeeded inanti-immigration measures, while the two expelling the Crusaders, but lost Spain andsmall dissident organisations - Irgun Zvai Persia, and may lose Palestine. But it is too lateLeumi (National Military Organisation) and for a peaceable solution.Lehi (Fighters for Israels Independence,better known as the Stem gang after its Azzam was completely wrong. The Zionistcommander, Avraham Stern) - waged an talk of compromise or peace was makingall-out assault on Britains military and real international headway. On 15 May 1947,administrative institutions. At the political two months after the British Governmentlevel the Zionists mounted an international had referred the Palestine problem to thepolitical and diplomatic campaign for the newly established United Nations, thepartition of Palestine into two states - one 11-member UN Special Committee onJewish, one Arab. Palestine (UNSCOP) was established to study This was totally unacceptable to the the question and to suggest possible ways forArabs. In May 1946, a pan-Arab summit in its resolution. In its recommendations,Cairo vowed to keep Palestine an integral published at the end of August, thepart of the Arab world and denounced committee advocated the earliest possibleZionism as a danger not only to Palestine termination of the British Mandate. Thebut to all Arab and Muslim peoples. The majority report recommended the partitionfollowing month yet another general Arab of Palestine into an Arab state, a Jewish state,summit in the Syrian town of Bludan and an internationalised city of Jerusalem -adopted a series of measures to prevent all linked in an economic union. Thethe creation of a Jewish state, including minority report suggested an independentanti-British and anti-American sanctions federal state, established after a transitionalif the two powers implemented the period of up to three years and comprisingrecommendation of the Anglo-American an Arab state and a Jewish state withcommission and introduced 100,000 Jewish Jerusalem as the federal capital. The Jewsrefugees into Palestine. Hajj Amin wholeheartedly endorsed the majority
  • 21. Background to war 21recommendations. The Arab states and the As Britain maintained a tight naval blockade aroundAHC, re-established in 1946 under Hajj Palestine after the Second World War so as to prevent Jewish immigration, the Hagana sought to covertlyAmins headship as the effective government smuggle many Holocaust survivors into the country.of the Palestinian Arabs, rejected both (The State of Israel:The National Photo Collection)proposals. Yet they were fighting a rearguardaction. On 29 November 1947, the UNGeneral Assembly endorsed UNSCOPsmajority recommendation on the partitionof Palestine by a two-thirds majority.
  • 22. Warring sidesStrengths and weaknesses ofArabs and JewsThe 1948 Palestine War was no ordinary Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and a Saudi contingent.confrontation between two combatants. To complicate things still further, in itsRather it was a complex multilateral conflict capacity as the governing power in Palestinein which the Jewish community in until the termination of the Mandate inMandatory Palestine (or the Yishuv), then mid-May 1948, Britain kept substantialthe newly proclaimed State of Israel, fought military forces there and maintained officialagainst three distinct, if interconnected, responsibility for the countrys internal andenemy forces: the Palestinian Arabs, a pan- external security. And while these forcesArab volunteer force and the regular armed neither played an active part in theforces of six Arab states - Egypt, Transjordan, Arab-Jewish military confrontation nor
  • 23. Warring sides 23seriously attempted to enforce nationwide The Jewish positionlaw and order, their presence in the countryhad a major impact on the general course of As it braced itself for the promised Arabthe conflict. For one thing, it deterred the backlash to the Partition Resolution, theArab states from sending their armies into Yishuv could hardly ignore its starkPalestine prior to the termination of the inferiority to the Arab World on everyMandate. For another, the pattern and pace quantitative index of power, fromof the British withdrawal influenced Jewish demography, to territory, to geostrategicand Palestinian operational planning and location, to wealth. Its 650,000-strongexecution and at times even determined the population was about half the size of theoutcome of critical military encounters, Palestinian Arab community, and less thannotably the battle for the strategic port town three per cent of the population of thoseof Haifa. Not least, the tight British naval Arab states that had vowed to abort Jewishblockade around Palestine substantially statehood by force. Its tenuous geographicalweakened the Yishuvs war effort by disposition, with many villages dispersed inpreventing the influx of Jewish refugees and predominantly Arab areas, and the Arabsnewly acquired weapons into the country. controlling most of Palestines hill region and its major road arteries, made it vulnerable both to attacks on isolated neighbourhoods and to the disruption of communication between entire parts of the country. Moreover, Palestines encirclement by four Arab states - Lebanon and Syria in the north, Transjordan in the east and Egypt in the south-west - made its Jewish community virtually landlocked and dependent for its very existence on naval and aerial transportation. But then, the port of Haifa, Palestines primary naval outlet, was controlled by the British until their departure, while the countrys sole civilian airport was a short distance from the Arab town of Lydda. All this created a fundamental asymmetry between the positions of the Yishuv and its Arab adversaries. While the former could not afford a single strategic defeat, as it would inexorably lead to its destruction, the Arabs world could absorb successive setbacks and still remain, in Abd al-Rahman Azzams words, fully confident of ultimate success though it might take some years. It would be a war of attrition since manpower reserves upon which the Arab side could draw were inexhaustible. This prognosis In an attempt to incorporate its diverse underground units into a unified force, on 28 May the Israeli Government ordered the establishment of a national army - the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). (Topham picturepoint)
  • 24. 24 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948was shared by the US intelligence agencies. Jews will be able to hold out no longerThe Jewish forces will initially have the than two years.advantage, opined a report issued a day What these predictions failed to consider,before the passing of the Partition however, was the extraordinary resilience ofResolution. However, as the Arabs graduallyco-ordinate their war effort, the Jews will be Established in the early 1920s as the undergroundforced to withdraw from isolated positions, military arm of the Palestine Jewish community, theand having been drawn into a war of Hagana (Defence) developed in subsequent decades intoattrition, will gradually be defeated. Unless a well-organised and highly motivated movement. Herethey are able to obtain significant outside Hagana members training in Tel-Aviv. (The State of Israel:aid in terms of manpower and materiel, the The National Photo Collection)
  • 25. Warring sides 25the Yishuv. A vibrant national community Mishmar, or guard force), consisting of menwith an unwavering sense of purpose, it and women of 25 and over who were unfitcould rely on an extensive network of for combat units and were assigned to staticindigenous social, economic, financial, defence missions, especially in villageseducational and military institutions that had throughout the country.turned it into a state in waiting. Chief of In terms of weaponry, the Hagana held atthese were the Jewish Agency, created under its secret caches (under Mandatory lawsthe terms of the League of Nations Mandate possession of arms was a crime punishablefor Palestine and led by an Executive which, by death) some 10,000 rifles andover time, became the effective government 1,900 submachine guns: one weapon forof the Yishuv and of the worldwide Zionist every three fighters (even the Palmach couldmovement; the elected Vaad Leumi (or only arm two out of every three of its activeRepresentative Council) of Palestines Jewish members), as well as 186 medium machinepopulation; the Histadrut workers guns, 444 light machine guns, and someorganisation, and the semi-clandestine 750 mortars. It had no heavy machine guns,military arm of the Yishuv, the Hagana. artillery, armoured vehicles, or anti-tank and Established in the early 1920s in response anti-aircraft weapons. Its nucleus air armto mounting Arab violence, the Hagana consisted of 11 single-engined light civiliandeveloped in subsequent decades into a aircraft, while its naval platoon includedwell-organised and highly motivated some 350 sailors with a few motor boats.underground movement. Subordinated to The other two underground Jewishthe Yishuvs civilian leadership, on the eve of organisations operating in Palestine atthe 1948 War its political control was in the the time were far smaller in size andhands of David Ben-Gurion, Chairman of equipment. The Irgun numbered somethe Jewish Agency and soon to become the 2,000-4,000 members, armed with 200 rifles,first prime minister of the new State of 500 submachine guns, and 160 machineIsrael. Professional military control was guns, while the far smaller Lehi (500-800exercised by an underground general staff of members) had at its disposal somesome 400 full-time salaried activists who 130 submachine guns, 120 revolvers andconstantly evaded the watchful eyes of no rifles at all.the British. Finally, there were a few thousand men The Haganas foremost unit was the and women who had served in the BritishPalmach (Plugot Mahatz, or shock platoons), army during the Second World War. Theyan elite force established in 1941 when the did not belong to any of the undergroundspectre of a German invasion of Palestine organisations, but their military experienceloomed large. In late 1947, it included some would be of great help to the Yishuv during2,100 men and women on active duty, plus the war.1,000 trained reservists who had returnedto civilian life but could be recalled at amoments notice. It was supported by a The Palestinian Arabs12,000-strong infantry force (2,000 on activeservice and 10,000 reserves) called the Hish In terms of social cohesion and organisation,(Heil Sadeh, or field force). Comprising men the Palestinian Arab community wasof 18-25 voluntarily devoting weekends and distinctly inferior to its smaller Jewishvacations to military training, the Hishs counterpart. Unlike the Yishuv it had totallylargest tactical unit was the company, and failed to develop a corporate nationalthe normal unit of training or operation was identity, remaining instead an uncertainthe platoon. amalgam of internal schisms and On top of its field units, the Hagana had a animosities: between town dwellers and20,000-strong garrison force, the Him (Heil countrymen, Muslims and Christians, rival
  • 26. 26 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948families, clans, tribes and so on. Moreover, creation deprived the Palestinians of muchthe suppression of the 1936-39 uprising left needed arms and funds that would havePalestinian society economically weakened otherwise been transferred directly to them.and politically leaderless with the collapse of All that the Mufti managed to achieve withits foremost institutions and the flight of its great difficulty was the appointment of hisleadership to the neighbouring Arab two foremost proteges to key militarycountries. And while the AHC was positions: his nephew, Abd al-Qader al-reconstituted as the effective government of Husseini, was made commander of thethe Palestinian Arab community, Hajj Amurs Jerusalem front, while Hasan Salame, aloyal service on behalf of the Nazis during veteran of the 1936-39 uprising who hadthe war had largely discredited him in the spent much of the war years in the serviceeyes of the great powers. of the Nazis, was given command over the No less importantly, despite their fiery Lydda-Ramle area.rhetoric, the Arab regimes were far less Nor did the Mufti manage to integrateconcerned with defending the Palestinian Palestinian society into a comprehensive warArabs than with promoting their own self- fighting machine. While nationalserving interests. Transjordans King committees were established in most townsAbdallah was keen to incorporate the whole and rural areas to control the war operationsof Palestine into the Greater Syrian empire in their respective vicinities, the social andthat he had been toiling to establish political fragmentation of Palestinian societythroughout his political career, while Egypt turned the traditional local armed band intowas anxious to prevent this eventuality and the regular fighting formation. Yet this by noto wrest whatever parts of southern Palestine means reduced to insignificance theit could. Syria and Lebanon set their sights potential military capabilities of Palestinianon certain areas in northern Palestine, while society. On the contrary, numerous ArabIraq harboured its own ambition for the villagers carried weapons and could be calledunification of the Fertile Crescent under to action by the local sheikh or strong manits leadership. at a moments notice, and many of them Consequently, the Arab states were had gained valuable experience in guerrillaunwilling to allow the Mufti to lead the warfare during the 1936-39 uprising. To thisstruggle for Palestine. He was excluded from should be added the 7,500 Palestinians whothe Arab Leagues deliberations in the run-up had undergone combat training by theto the UN vote on partition, and in its wake British during the Second World War, andhe was denied command over the Palestine the 10,500 Arabs serving in the British policemilitary campaign, which was entrusted to force on either a full-time or auxiliary basis.the Iraqi General Ismail Safwat under the As the situation deteriorated, many of thesesupervision of the Arab Leagues newly deserted their units with their weapons toestablished military committee. Yet another join the numerous armed groups operatingIraqi general, Taha al-Hashemi, former chief in the country.of staff of the Iraqi army, was appointed On a more organised basis, thecommander of the Arab Liberation Army Palestinians had two paramilitary groups, the(ALA), a pan-Arab volunteer force established Husseini-sponsored Futuwa, and the Najada,by the League in early 1948. His deputy and which had been created by opponents of thethe person who would lead this force into Husseinis though eventually came underbattle was the Syrian Fawzi al-Qawuqji, their sway and merged with the Futuwa.veteran of the 1936-39 uprising. This Both engaged in elementary training inconstituted a double blow to the Mufti. urban guerrilla warfare and on the eve ofNot only was this relatively efficient and their merger in July 1947 their joint strengthwell-equipped force placed under one of his totalled some 11,000-12,000 members, abouterstwhile rivals (al-Qawuqji), but its very a tenth of whom were ex-servicemen.
  • 27. Warring sides 27 As hostilities broke out in late 1947, new entities, could and did precisely this. As alocal militia groups, commonly known as result, at the time of the 1948 War they werethe National Guard, mushroomed in able to field well-organised and equippedPalestinian towns and cities. Consisting of armies, armed with tanks, artillery andwar veterans and members of existing fighting aircraft.organisations, they assumed responsibility As the largest and most populous Arabfor the defence of their specific country, Egypt had the most extensiveneighbourhoods, taxing the local military establishment. Supplied andpopulation for their upkeep and weaponry. trained by Britain, the Egyptian armedYet another militia, al-Jihad al-Muqadas forces trebled their order of battle in the(The Holy War), expanded rapidly from a wake of the Second World War tomodest group of a few hundred Palestinian 35,000-45,000 troops. The ground forceswar veterans and Arab volunteers, created by consisted of three infantry brigades, one tankAbd al-Qader al-Husseini in early 1948, to a brigade (with some 50 tanks) and threeforce boasting several thousand young artillery battalions armed with 65 HowitzerPalestinians. They were supported by Hasan guns, while the air force comprised fiveSalames 1,000-strong force operating on the squadrons of 18 fighting aircraft each andcentral front. one transport squadron. The lack of a centralised Palestinian Owing to the hegemonic aspirations of itsorganisation makes it difficult to assess rulers, Iraq had made a comparatively greatertheir level of armament. Like the Yishuv, effort than any other Arab state in thethey had no major weapons systems such as development of its military potential. Byfighting aircraft, tanks or artillery and were 1948 its armed forces had expanded toin possession of substantial quantities of approximately the same size as those ofsmall arms. As early as 1942, the Haganas larger Egypt, but were better equipped,intelligence service assessed the number of organised and trained. The main bulk of itsfirearms at the disposal of the Palestinians at ground forces was structured in three50,000; and while this was probably an divisional formations - two infantry and oneoverestimate, it nevertheless reflected the training - supported by an armouredprevalence of private weapons in Palestinian battalion of 15-20 tanks, some 200 armouredsociety. In the wake of the Second World vehicles and 70-80 artillery pieces. The IraqiWar, and especially as the spectre of partition air force consisted of 80 aircraft, about halfloomed larger, the Palestinians intensified of which were operational.their arms procurement efforts. Most of their By far the most effective Arab force wasnewly obtained weapons were smuggled Transjordans Arab Legion. Armed, trainedfrom the neighbouring Arab states, while the and commanded by British officers, thisrest were stolen from British military and 10,000-strong force was organised in fourpolice bases. infantry/mechanised regiments supported by some 40 artillery pieces and 75 armoured cars. Until January 1948, it was reinforced byThe Arab states the 3,000-strong Transjordan Frontier Force, at which time it was disbanded and itsThe material and organisational Palestinian members joined the Arab Legion or otherweakness was more than compensated for by armed forces, many of them taking theirthe combined strength of the Arab world. arms with them.Unlike Palestines Jewish and Arab The Syrian and Lebanese armies, bothcommunities which, by virtue of their established by the French during their rule ofimperial domination, could not develop the Levant, were apparently the weakest ofregular armies or obtain major weapons the Arab interventionary forces. Totalling asystems, the Arab states, as independent mere 3,500 troops, the Lebanese army
  • 28. 28 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948consisted of four infantry brigades, a Armed, trained and commanded by British officers,mechanised company, some cavalry units Transjordans 10,000-strong Arab Legion was by far the most effective Arab army to participate in the Palestineand a number of artillery pieces. The War. Here King Abdallah is inspecting a guard of ArabSyrian armed forces, though three times as Legion soldiers. (The State of lsrael:The Nationallarge, were in the spring of 1948 in the Photo Collection)midst of transition from an old-fashionedgendarmerie and cavalry force to a moderninfantry division. As a result, only two of The British forcesthe divisions three brigades were in aposition to take part in the war, together At the time of the UN vote on partition,with a mechanised battalion of French-built there were some 100,000 British troopstanks and a modest air force of some deployed in Palestine, organised in two20 training aircraft converted into bombers ground forces divisions, two independentand fighters. infantry brigades, two mechanised Syrias contribution to the general war regiments, some artillery units and a numbereffort, however, extended well beyond its of RAF squadrons. The elite 6th Airbornedirect involvement as it played the key role Division was deployed in northern Palestine,in the creation of the ALA. Though the 1st Infantry Division was in charge ofhypothetically a pan-Arab force aimed at the central and southern areas, includingassisting the Palestinian struggle until the Tel-Aviv, Samaria, the coastal plain and theArab states were able to send their armies Negev (together with the 61st Infantryinto Palestine, it was Syria that provided the Brigade), while the Jerusalem area was theALA with most of its officers, recruits, responsibility of the 8th Infantry Brigade. Inweapons and training. Envisaged as a addition, the Palestine Command had at itsdivisional force, the ALA comprised, at its disposal the Arab Legion, the Transjordanpeak, some 8,000 fighters organised in six Frontier Force, the naval units of thebattalions and armed with light weapons, Mediterranean Fleet, and over 4,000 Britishmortars and guns. members of the Palestine Police Force.
  • 29. OutbreakThe Arabs of Palestine willlnever submit to partitionViolence came to Palestine within hours of attacked Jewish inmates, who barricadedthe UN vote on partition. In the early hours themselves in their cells until the Britishof 30 November 1947 as Jewish revellers authorities managed to restore calm. Inwere making their way home after the Haifa, shots were fired at Jews passingprevious nights celebrations, an ambulance through Arab neighbourhoods, whileen route to the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Jewish vehicles were stoned throughoutScopus came under fire. A few hours later a the of Arabs ambushed a Jewish bus The next day saw no reduction inbound from the coastal town of Netanya to violence. Shooting, stoning and riotingJerusalem, killing five of its passengers and continued apace. The consulates of Polandwounding several others. They then attacked and Sweden, both of which had voted foranother bus travelling from Hadera to partition, were attacked. Bombs wereJerusalem, killing two more passengers. Meanwhile, in Tel-Avivs Carmel Market, Having spent most of the Second World War years inon the fault line between the Jewish city and the service of Nazi Germany, the former Jerusalem Mufti,what was Arab Jaffa, a Jewish person was Hajj Amm al-Husseini (second from the left) arrived inmurdered. In the countrys main gaol, in the Cairo in 1945 to lead the Palestinian Arab campaignnorthern town of Acre, Arab prisoners against the partition of Palestine. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 30. 30 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 thrown into cafes, killing and maiming, were running towards the neighbourhood. molotov cocktails were hurled at shops, a Some of them carried torches while others synagogue was set on fire. Scores of young fired on the fly. Behind them we saw flashes Arabs flooded the offices of the local of fire from machine guns covering them as national committees demanding weapons. they ran amok. By the time the BritishTo inflame the situation further, the AHC troops arrived at the scene, the Arabs had proclaimed a three-day nationwide strike to been forced into a hasty retreat, leaving begin the following day. It enforced the behind some 70 dead. closure of all Arab shops, schools and places This failure notwithstanding, the Hatikvaof business and organised and incited large attack constituted a watershed in the generalArab crowds to take to the streets to attack deterioration to war. Planned and executedJewish targets. by Hasan Salame, the Mufti-appointed The main such attack took place in commander of the Lydda front, andJerusalem on Tuesday 2 December, when a including an unspecified number of fighterscrowd of several hundred Arabs ransacked who had arrived from Nablus to this end,the new Jewish commercial centre, lying the operation inaugurated a trend that wasopposite the Old Citys walls, looting and to gain momentum in the coming weeks,burning shops and stabbing and stoning transforming the conflict from mob riotingwhoever they happened upon. A Hagana and local clashes to a more orderly guerrillaplatoon that was rushed to the area to campaign aimed at achieving specificprotect civilians was peremptorily stopped objectives. Indeed, two days after theand disarmed by the British police, with abortive Hatikva assault, yet another 16 of its members arrested for illegal concerted Arab attack was rebuffed - thispossession of weapons. Some of the time on the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalemsconfiscated weapons were later found on Old City.killed and captured Arab rioters. From the commercial centre, the mobproceeded to the City Hall, where they The Arab statesattempted to lynch several Jewishmunicipal workers and to plunder nearby Violence was by no means confined tostores. For a long time the police did not Palestine. Throughout the Arab world, Jewishinterfere with this little mob, recollected the communities were singled out for attack. Incitys British mayor, Richard Graves, and it British-ruled Aden, 82 Jews were slaughteredwas heartbreaking to see these young by rioting mobs, while another 130 Jewshooligans being given a free hand to destroy were massacred in Tripolitania. In Beirut,the products of mans labours ... I Cairo, Alexandria and Aleppo Jewish housesremonstrated with the police [who] told me and businesses were ransacked andthat they had orders not to interfere till they synagogues desecrated.were reinforced. Between 8 and 17 December the heads of On 4 December, some 120-150 armed the Arab states met in Cairo for a series ofArabs attacked kibbutz Efal, on the outskirts meetings, under the auspices of the Arabof Tel-Aviv, in the first large-scale attempt to League, to discuss the Palestine situation.storm a Jewish settlement. Four days later a The gathering defined the overarching Arabmore audacious assault was launched when objective as obstructing the partition plan,hundreds of armed Arabs attacked the preventing the creation of a Jewish state,Hatikva quarter in south Tel-Aviv. They were and preserving Palestine as an independentfollowed by scores of women, bags and sacks unified Arab state. To this end, the Arabin hand, eager to ferry off the anticipated states would contribute one millionspoils. The scene was appalling, recalled Egyptian pounds to the Palestine war effortone of the Jewish defenders. Masses of Arabs (on top of the same amount promised three
  • 31. Outbreak 31months earlier by another Arab League thrown into crowds leaving movie theatres onsummit in the Lebanese town of Sofar), Saturday nights. That will start the ball rolling.would place some 10,000 rifles at the For no doubt the Jews will react, and as adisposal of the Leagues military committee reaction to a reaction there will be outbreakand would make the necessary arrangements in another place ... [until] the whole countryfor the recruitment of 3,000 volunteers for will be stirred up, trouble will be incited, andthe ALA that was being established in Syria. the neighbouring Arab countries will beThey also reaffirmed the decision, taken at compelled to start a holy war to assist thethe Alei summit of October 1947, to deploy Palestinian Arabs.their forces along the Palestine border solong as the British remained in the country, To prevent this scenario from becoming ain order to extend active support for the self-fulfilling prophecy, the Haganas initialALAs operations within Palestine. response to the outbreak of violence was essentially defensive, trying to strike a delicate balance between the need to create aThe Jewish response credible deterrence and the desire to prevent the cycle of violence from spiralling toThe outbreak of Arab violence did not take uncontrollable peaks. It was only onthe Yishuv by surprise. Since assuming the 9 December, as Arab attacks on Jewishdefence portfolio in December 1946, in transportation across the country began toaddition to the chairmanship of the Jewish have a palpable effect, that the HaganasAgency, David Ben-Gurion had been head of operations, Yigael Yadin, orderedlabouring under the assumption that upon commanders to respond in kind so as tothe termination of the Mandate the Yishuv curtail the Arab campaign against Jewishwould have to confront the full military transportation.might of the Arab world, rather than that of In addition, the Hagana began to carrythe Palestinian Arabs alone. Consequently, out retaliatory actions against specificin late 1947 and early 1948 the Hagana targets, such as known perpetrators ofunderwent a major structural change, aimed violence, bases of armed gangs, and villagesat transforming its semi-mobilised units into or localities serving as springboards fora national army based on compulsory anti-Jewish attacks. One such action tookconscription that would be able to resist an place in Ramie on 11 December, when ainvasion by the regular Arab armed forces. Palmach squad managed to infiltrate theMost notably, the Hish was restructured into .own and to set fire to 15 Arab vehicles in afive regional brigades: Levanoni in the parking lot. On another instance, annorthern part of the country (it later infantry platoon entered the southerndeveloped into two separate brigades - village of Karatiya, which had been used asCarmeli and Golani); Alexandroni, with a base for attacks on Jewish traffic in theresponsibility for the central sector; Givati in area, and blew up a building after evacuatingsouthern Palestine; and the Etzioni brigade its residents. A similar operation, in thein the Jerusalem area. Galilee village of Khasas went terribly Nor did the actual pattern of the wrong, as sappers miscalculated thePalestinian violence come as a surprise. A amount of explosives needed formonth before the passing of the UN demolishing a building, causing theResolution, Israel Galili, the Haganas Chief collapse of a neighbouring house andof staff estimated that: killing eight people. While the Hagana did its utmost to avoid As far as we know, it is the Muftis belief attacks on innocent civilians, the smallerthat there is no better way to start things off Jewish underground organisations had nothan by means of tenor, isolated bombs such scruples: if Jews were to be
  • 32. 32 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948indiscriminately attacked throughout the 20 people and wounding another five. Lehicountry, so too would Arabs. Thus, hours used the same method to blow up theafter the Arab attack on the Jerusalem headquarters of the Jaffa national committeecommercial centre on 2 December, the Irgun on 5 January 1948.set fire to a Jerusalem cinema house On 30 December, a group of Irgunfrequented by Arabs. Ten days later, on members threw a bomb at a group of Arab12 December, it placed a car bomb opposite workers waiting outside the Haifa oilthe Damascus Gate of the Old City, killing refinery, killing six people and wounding
  • 33. Outbreak 33others. Within hours the Arab workers at in flames as Arabs and Jews were fightingthe plant turned on their Jewish colleagues, each other in its towns, villages and on itsslaughtering 39 of them and injuring many roads. From the passing of the Partitionmore. In response, the Hagana raided the Resolution on 29 November 1947 to thevillage of Balad al-Sheikh, from where many beginning of the new year, some 207 Jewsof the rioters came, killing and wounding and 220 Arabs were killed, according tosome 60 people. official British figures, while several By the end of 1947, then, Palestine was hundred others were wounded. Violence came to Palestine on 30 November 1947, a day after the UN had passed the Partition Resolution. Here Tel-Aviv residents, under fire from Arab snipers, running for cover: (The State of lsrael:The National Photo Collection)
  • 34. The fightingFrom inter-communal strifeto inter-state war In mid-December 1947, a fortnight after the communication lines and protectingoutbreak of inter-communal violence, a outlying settlements left the initiative in theBritish intelligence report estimated that the hands of the Arabs who could determine atArabs are beginning to succeed in making will where and when to launch their attacks.the ordinary daily round of the Jews The decision to hang on to every singleextremely difficult. Since the beginning of settlement substantially extended thethe month there have been numerous Yishuvs lines of defence, necessitating theattacks on communications, causing dispersal of forces throughout the countryconsiderable concern to the community and rather than their concentration into largerin some cases seriously affecting their and more effective formations.economy. This, it is thought, may possiblybe the plan of the Arab Higher Committeeand the Mufti - in other words, not to have Jewish vulnerabilitiesa bloodbath, in which the Arabs wouldsuffer from their inferior armament, but to Three areas were particularly vulnerable tobreak the economic life of the Jews and so Arab attacks. First there were the 33 Jewishsqueeze them out of business and Palestine. settlements to be excluded from the This assessment was shared by Jewish prospective Jewish state, which were locatedmilitary planners. As they saw it, the deep in Arab territory. Then there was thePalestinian strategy was designed to break Negev, that vast and largely unpopulatedthe physical unity of the Yishuv through desert south of the Gaza-Beersheba line,disruption of its land communications, thus which occupied about 80 per cent of theconstraining it in a number of isolated territory assigned to the Jewish state by thepockets and undermining its ability to Partition Resolution. The 27 isolated Jewishresist the imminent pan-Arab invasion in the villages established in this area, with theirwake of the forthcoming British withdrawal tiny population of a few hundred farmers,from Palestine. were widely seen as an operational liability To forestall such an eventuality the Yishuv that had to be removed at the first availablehad two possible courses of action: to occupy opportunity. Yet when some military advisersArab positions controlling key roads or to took up this matter with Ben-Gurion, theyvacate outlying Jewish settlements. But the were instructed to reinforce the settlementsformer option was deemed impractical for with men and equipment. If we fail tolack of sufficient weaponry and fear of defend the Negev, Tel-Aviv will not standBritish military intervention, while the latter either, he argued. If we will not be in thewas precluded for political reasons, notably Negev, the [Arabs] will occupy it, and it is anBen-Gurions conviction that any areas illusion to think that they will subsequentlysurrendered to the Arabs would be excluded return it to us.from the territory of the nascent Jewish state Last but not least was the question ofin the post-war negotiations regardless of Jerusalem. By virtue of geography andtheir assignment by the Partition Resolution. topography the city was the most isolated of These constraints had far-reaching the Yishuvs urban centres. Lying at the heartoperational implications for the Yishuv. The of an Arab area with only a handful ofadoption of a defensive strategy of securing neighbouring Jewish settlements and with its
  • 35. The fighting 35lifeline passing through hostile Arab Jewish Jerusalems precarious geopolitical location, at theterritory, Jerusalems Jewish population could heart of an Arab area with only a handful of neighbouring Jewish settlements, allowed the Arabs toeasily be held captive to Arab war plans. To subject it to a protracted siege, resulting in severe foodthis must be added the extreme difficulty of and water shortages. (The State of Israeli The Nationalensuring security along the 60-kilometre- Photo Collection)
  • 36. 36 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948long road between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, neighbourhoods in Jerusalem had beennearly half of which wound through rough precarious even in the best of times andand hilly country, rising up to a height of subject to regular disruptions by Arab mobs,over 900 metres with frequent steep especially on Muslim religious festivals. Oncegradients and deep, narrow, tortuous defiles. hostilities broke out, the quarter came underAll the Arabs had to do was to block the immediate siege.stretch of road running near their village, It will be recalled that according to thethen sit on the overlooking ridge and aim Partition Resolution, Jerusalem was to betheir shots at the trapped Jewish convoys as placed under an international regime, withthey were busy removing the roadblocks. its residents given the right to apply for To make the problem of defence still citizenship in either the Arab or the Jewishharder, the Jewish population of Jerusalem states. The Zionist leadership, thoughwas dispersed into non-contiguous suburbs, begrudgingly acquiescing in this decision,many of them surrounded by Arabneighbourhoods. The position of the Jewish Car bombs constituted a popular weapon in the fightingquarter of the Old City, where some between Palestines Arab and Jewish communities. Here2,500 Jews were living among 22,000 Arabs, Jerusalems Ben-Yehuda Street after a bombing inwas particularly dire. Communication February 1948 in which 50 people were killed andbetween this area and the rest of the Jewish hundreds wounded. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 37. The fighting 37had little doubt that Jerusalem would were killed when a convoy to Gush Etzion, acontinue to play a pivotal role in the life and cluster of four settlements north of Hebron,development of the nascent Jewish state was ambushed by a large Arab force. Threedespite its exclusion from its territory. Not days later yet another relief convoy on itsonly was it the holiest of sites for Judaism way to the besieged settlement ofand Jews and the epitome of the Zionist Ben-Shemen, near Lydda, was attacked byyearning for national rebirth, but its the Arab Legion. Thirteen fighters were 100,000-strong Jewish community killed, nine were seriously wounded. Anotherconstituted nearly one-sixth of the Yishuvs two Jewish drivers were killed when aentire population. Hence, unlike the Negev convoy was trapped for hours in the Araband other outlying settlements, there was no village of Yazur, south of Jaffa.doubting the need to prevent the fall of Alongside their attacks on JewishJewish Jerusalem come what may. The cost transportation, the Arabs attempted toof such an endeavour, however, was to be occupy a number of outlying settlementsexorbitant given that Jewish Jerusalem was throughout the country. On 10 Januaryheavily dependent on outside supplies for its 1948, some 900 fighters of the newlyvery survival, having no real industrial established ALA crossed the Syrian borderinfrastructure and producing only a fraction and attacked kibbutz Kfar-Szold. Despiteof its food and other requirements. Indeed, their overwhelming inferiority in numbersmore Jews would be killed in the fighting and equipment, the defenders managed toover the road to Jerusalem than in any other hold their ground and were eventually savedcampaign of the 1948 War. by a British armoured unit sent to their aid. An even more ferocious attack was launched on 14 January on the Etzion Bloc. InThe Arabs on the offensive the largest offensive in the war until then the Arabs put into battle some 1,000 men headedThe Arabs were quick to exploit their by Abd al-Qader al-Husseini himself. The mainoperational advantage. Already on the first assault, involving a battalion of 400 trainedday of the fighting, on 30 November 1947, and armed fighters, was mounted against theseven people were killed in two attacks on blocs main settlement, Kfar-Etzion, whileJewish buses to Jerusalem. On 7 December, diversionary attacks were launched against theBen-Gurion himself ran into an Arab neighbouring kibbutzim of Masuot-Yitzhakobstruction as he was making his way to and Ein-Zurim. So confident were the Arabs ofJerusalem for a meeting with the British High their success that they brought with themCommissioner. Our radiators overheated hundreds of non-combatants, men, womenand a tire went flat, recalled the head of and children, carrying empty bags for the loot.Ben-Gurions security team. T saw some They were to be bitterly disappointed.movement on one of the hills and sent two Anticipating the thrust of the assault, thefighters to check it out. Three men stayed defenders took up concealed positions alongwith me to protect Ben-Gurion and [Moshe] the main route of advance, taking theSneh (a prominent Zionist leader). As we attackers completely by surprise. By dusk thewere changing the tire, Ben-Gurion asked to Arabs had retreated in disarray, leaving behindget out. I told him: Excuse me, sir, but I am some 200 dead and a similar number ofresponsible for your safety. Youll sit inside, wounded, inflicted by less than 30 defenders.bent down. The tire was changed. The boys The large British police and military forcessent to the hills drove away the Arabs. stationed in the neighbourhood made no attempt to stop the fighting. Later that day, at approximately the sameplace, a senior Hagana commander was Before long, however, the Arabs were tokilled as he made his way from Jerusalem to exact their revenge. With Kfar-EtzionsTel-Aviv. On 11 December, 10 Jewish fighters meagre reserves of arms and ammunition
  • 38. Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948depleted in the battle, a platoon of 35 men to the last man. A British police officer waswas sent the next day to reinforce the to tell later that he found the body of one ofbesieged kibbutz. Commanded by Danny the fighters with a stone, his last weapon,Mass, the Etzion Blocs commander until a in his hand. True or not, the death of thefew days earlier, the group left the Jerusalem 35 would take its place in the Israeliarea in the evening of 15 January, but failedto reach its destination before dawn and The fall of the strategic village of Kastel to Hagana forcesfound itself surrounded by masses of Arabs on 10 April 1948, after a week of ferocious fighting,who had swarmed to the area from their constituted an important breakthrough in the Jewishvillages. Taking positions near the opening of effort to break the Arab siege around Jerusalem.a cave on the local road, the platoon fought (Hulton Getty)
  • 39. The fighting 39collective memory as an epitome of heroism region, where they were reconnoitring theand in the Arab narrative as a shining area, collecting intelligence and seeking tomilitary success. So much so that when the assert strict military control over the localIsraeli army occupied the area in the 1967 population. A month later their numbersSix-Day War, many Arabs from villages who grew to 6,000-7,000, and by mid-April theyhad taken part in the 1948 battle fled their had reached 7,000-8,000. Of thesehomes for fear of revenge. 3,000-4,000 were deployed in Samaria, while Five days after the Etzion Bloc battle, on another 1,000 camped in the Galilee in20 January, the isolated kibbutz of Yechiam, groups of 50-100 under a central the western Galilee, was attacked by some A few hundred fighters were deployed in400 Arab fighters armed with mortars, each of Palestines primary Arab cities -Jaffa,medium and light machine guns and rifles. Haifa and Jerusalem - in addition to theThe kibbutz was completely surrounded and 500 positioned in the Jerusalem district andthe attack opened simultaneously from all the 100 in the Gaza district.sides. Road blocks were established at all The ALAs growth in strength wasapproaches and bridges and culverts were accompanied by a corresponding boost inmade impassable, indicating that the attackers self-confidence, and before long it launchedintended to occupy the settlement at all costs. its first large-scale attack on a Jewish There being no other communication, the settlement. At 3.45 am on 16 February, thekibbutz managed to contact the town of 1st Yarmuk Regiment laid down a heavyNahariya by heliograph and police armoured barrage of mortar shells and machine guncars from Acre were sent out, together with a fire on kibbutz Tirat-Zvi in the Beisan valleyplatoon of soldiers, to help the kibbutz fend of the eastern Galilee. About two hours lateroff the attack. The next morning the Arabs some 300-500 troops advanced on theresumed their attack with mortars and kibbutz with the intention of occupying itmachine guns but were repelled yet again by and killing its residents. They succeeded inthe defenders, who had been reinforced cutting the perimeter fence at one point butovernight by some 60 Hagana fighters. failed to penetrate the inner defences, where The attack was carried out by the they were in for an unpleasant surprise.2nd Yarmuk Regiment of the ALA, which in Withholding their fire until the Arabs wereearly 1948 began penetrating Palestine in at close range, the Jewish defenders thenstrength. Commanded by Adib al-Shishakly, took the attackers completely by surprise,a future ruler of Syria, the 2nd Regiment forcing them into a hasty retreat. Someentered the country from Lebanon on the 60 Arabs were killed in the fighting andnight of 10-11 January, setting its about 100 wounded, compared to a singleheadquarters in the Galilean locality of Sasa. fatality on the Jewish side.It was followed 10 days later by the1st Yarmuk Regiment, headed byMuhammad Tzafa, which infiltrated On the verge of defeatPalestine from Transjordan. Setting hisheadquarters in the Samaritan town of In a report on the situation in Palestine,Tubas, Tzafa dispersed his forces in the written on 23 March 1948, General Ismailneighbouring towns of Nablus and Tulkarm Safwat, the Arab Leagues appointedas well as in local villages. Another large ALA commander of the Palestine campaign,contingent left for Palestine, via Transjordan, wondered why the Jews had not used theiron the night of 28 January. military superiority to deal the Palestinian By the end of January, according to Arabs a mortal blow. Part of the explanation,official British figures, some 3,000 ALA in his opinion, lay in the Jewish belief thatsoldiers had infiltrated Palestine. Most of self-restraint was conducive to eventual Arabthem were concentrated in the Samaria acquiescence in the existence of a Jewish
  • 40. 40 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 state in line with the Partition Resolution. Jerusalem, together with their cars and And the proof: Until now they have not equipment. attacked any Arab village unless provoked In the event, the British rescued the men by it. Other presumed causes of the Jewish but surrendered their cars and weapons to self-restraint were the fear of British the Arabs. Since the convoy included, most of intervention, and the desire to preserve their the Yishuvs reservoir of home-made strength for the anticipated showdown with armoured cars that had maintained the Arab world following the completion of communication between Tel-Aviv and the British withdrawal. Jerusalem, their loss meant the effective Be that as it may, at the time when the severance of Jerusalem from the coastal plain. report was written the supposed Jewish And as if to underscore this bitter reality, yet prowess was nowhere to be seen. another convoy that tried to break through Notwithstanding a number of Jewish to Jerusalem from the settlement of Hulda successes, notably the destruction of a large was ambushed and forced back after suffering arms convoy from Lebanon to Haifa, the a number of casualties. The intensification of intensification of Arab attacks on Jewish Arab attacks on communications and transportation to Jerusalem and the Negev particularly the failure of the Kfar Etzion during the month of March led to the virtual convoy - probably the Yishuvs strongestisolation of these areas. On 24 March, a large armoured transport unit - to force a returnJewish convoy to Jerusalem was forced to passage has brought home the precariousturn back at the narrow ravine of Bab al-Wad position of Jewish communities both great (Gate of the Valley), where the coastal road and small which are dependent on supplysharply ascends towards Jerusalem, leaving lines running through Arab controlled behind 14 burned-out home-made armoured country, commented a British report. Incars. Two days later, the Hagana was forced particular it is now realised that the positionto abandon the use of the southern coastal of Jewish Jerusalem, where a food-scarcityroad, which ran through densely populated already exists, is likely to be desperate afterArab areas, leaving the Negev totally severed 16th May.from the rest of the Yishuv. In the north, alarge convoy from Haifa to the besiegedsettlement of Yechiam was ambushed near The April turning pointthe Arab village of Kabri. The first fewvehicles managed to break through but the By April 1948 the Jewish position seemedrest of the convoy was trapped and all its extremely precarious. True, for all their42 members were killed in a 10-hour battle numerous assaults the Arabs had failed towith their attackers. occupy a single Jewish neighbourhood or A particularly painful setback was settlement. Nor did they manage to gain thesuffered on 27 March, when a large supply upper hand in the ongoing fighting inconvoy returning from the Etzion Bloc to Palestines main urban centres, Jaffa, HaifaJerusalem was trapped at a roadblock south and Jerusalem. Yet the Yishuv was beginningof the city. Leaving their vehicles, the men to reel from the wars heavy human andtook positions inside a deserted building material cost. According to officialnamed after the Prophet Daniel (Nabi British figures, by early April 1948, JewishDaniel) from where they fought back casualties had amounted to 875 dead andsuccessive assaults by thousands of armed 1,858 wounded, compared with 967 andArabs. The battle raged for nearly 24 hours, 1,911 Arab casualties respectively. Givenby which time the defenders had almost that the Yishuvs population was roughlyrun out of ammunition and had lost all half the size of its Arab counterpart, thesehope of being reinforced. They thus agreed losses were proportionately twice as heavyto be evacuated by the British army to as those suffered by the latter.
  • 41. The fighting 41 The impact of this human toll was further Major-General Hugh Stockwell, Commander of theexacerbated by the setbacks of late March. British forces in northern Palestine, tried to mediate aThere were manifestations of declining truce agreement between the Arab and Jewish communities in Haifa.The Arabs refused to sign themorale and growing disorientation and agreement and evacuated the remaining Arab populationdoubts were voiced about the Yishuvs ability from the city. (Topham Picturepoint)to weather the storm. Most alarmingly, giventhe tight siege around Jewish Jerusalem andthe attendant shortages in basic economic blockade of the city can be brokencommodities, as well as in weapons and by Jewish forces alone. If the Jewish leadersammunition, the possibility of the citys fall are not prepared to sacrifice the 100,000 Jewscould no longer be precluded unless some of Jerusalem, then they must concede,dramatic action was immediately taken. It is however unwillingly, that the Arabs havebecoming increasingly apparent that the won the second round in the struggle whichYishuv and its leaders are deeply worried began with a Jewish victory in the firstabout the future, read a British report. The round on the 29th November.100,000 Jews of Jerusalem have been held to To make things worse, the USransom and it is doubtful whether the Arab administration seemed to be backtracking
  • 42. 42 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948from its earlier support for partition. The both within Palestine and in thecreation of a Jewish state had always been neighbouring Arab states; the capture of keyanathema to American foreign policy and roads to ensure the freedom of movementdefence department officials. Reluctant to for military and economic purposes; thealienate the oil-rich and strategically located occupation of forward bases on enemyArab states and apprehensive of the territory to deny their use as a springboardpossibility of having to send American for an attack on the Jewish state; economictroops to the rescue of the nascent Jewish pressure on the Palestinian Arabs so as tostate were it to be overwhelmed by its Arab force them to cease hostilities; the capture ofneighbours, they had done their utmost to certain Palestinian towns and villages inabort the partition of Palestine, only to be order to undermine their guerrilla campaign;overruled by President Harry Truman. Now and the seizure of government institutionsthat the Palestinian Arabs seemed to be and assets following the British withdrawalgaining the upper hand, even without the with a view to ensuring the functioning ofinterference of the Arab states, the key public services. In a message to hisbureaucrats managed to have their way. On commanders, the Haganas chief of staff,19 March 1948, the United States Israel Galili, took great pains to clarify thatrepresentative to the UN, Warren Austin, the behaviour of the Hagana towards theannounced that since the conflict in Arabs in the territory of the Hebrew state, orPalestine had proved that partition was no in predominantly Jewish areas containinglonger possible, the country should be placed Arab enclaves, stems from the Arab policy ofunder a UN trusteeship. the Zionist Movement, that is, In these circumstances, an early acknowledgement of the full rights, needs,operational breakthrough became, literally, a and freedom of the Arabs in the Hebrewmatter of life and death for the Yishuv. state without any discrimination, and aAlready in mid-March, the Hagana adopted a desire for co-existence on the basis of mutualnew strategic plan, code named Plan D, as freedom and dignity.the framework for all operational planning. In line with this plan, it was decided onUnlike its defensive precursors, plans A, B 1 April to breach the Arab siege of Jerusalemand C, which had hitherto dominated the by securing a corridor on both sides of theHaganas strategic thought, Plan D sought to Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road, ranging in widthturn the tables on the Arabs by seizing the from six miles in the coastal plain to two inoperational initiative. Taking for granted a the mountains. Operation Nachshon, as itpan-Arab invasion that would seek to severe was code-named, was to be the Haganasand/or occupy substantial parts of Palestine, debut as a conventional military force. Untiland the consequent need for ensuring then, its operations had never been aboveterritorial continuity and depth in the areas the company level. Now, at Ben-Gurionsunder Jewish control already before the insistence, a brigade-sized operation was toinvasion began, the plan aimed at gaining be mounted, involving some 1,500 fighterscontrol over the territory assigned to the organised in three battalions. This in turnJewish state and defending its borders, as necessitated the dilution of Jewish forceswell as the blocs of Jewish settlement and throughout the country, but Ben-Gurion sawsuch Jewish population as were outside those no other alternative. If Jerusalem falls, theborders, against regular, para-regular, and whole country might fall, he warned hisguerrilla forces operating from bases outside commanders as they were deliberating theor inside the nascent Jewish state. To operation. The risk is worth taking. This isachieve these objectives, Plan D outlined a the hinge on which everything rests.mixture of static and mobile operational Launched on 6 April, Operationmeasures, including counter-attacks on Nachshon was preceded by two subsidiaryenemy bases and communications lines, local actions. The first was the capture, on
  • 43. The fghting 43The fall of Hafia on 21 -22 April 1948 led to general disorientation among the Palestinian Arabs and to thesurrender of many of the countrys foremost Arab cities. On 11 May Safed fell to the Hagana and Jaffafollowed suit a couple of days later (The State of Israel:The National Photo Collection)
  • 44. 44 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 the night of 2-3 April, of the strategic village Jewish Agency and the Hagana immediately of Kastel dominating the approaches to expressed their deep disgust and regret; andJerusalem about five miles to the west of the while the Arabs swiftly exacted their revenge city. The second, and no less important, was by killing some 80 Jewish nurses and doctors the blowing up of Hasan Salames en route to the Haddasah hospital on Mount headquarters in the town of Ramie in the Scopus, Arab propaganda quickly capitalised early morning of 5 April. The destruction of on the tragedy in an attempt to reap this heavily fortified and guarded base in immediate political gains. In the long run, which some 30 Arab fighters were killed Deir Yasin would indeed become the most dealt a powerful blow to Salames prestige effective Arab propaganda tool against Israel. and prevented his forces from playing an At the time, however, the widely exaggerated active role in the fighting over the Jerusalem descriptions of Jewish atrocities, especially road. By 15 April, when Operation Nachshon the alleged rapes of women that had nevercame to an end, the Jewish forces had taken place, spread panic in the Palestinian managed to occupy a number of Arab public and intensified the ongoing massvillages along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road flight from the country.and to get three large convoys with food and No less detrimental to the Palestinian warweapons to Jerusalem. effort was the abortive attempt by the ALA to Fighting was particularly intense around occupy the settlement of Mishmar-Haemekthe Kastel, which changed hands several in the western Galilee. Reeling from thetimes until 10 April when the Arab forces humiliating defeat at Tirat-Zvi, al-Qawuqjifinally withdrew following the death of their viewed the Haganas preoccupation withcommander, Abd al-Qader al-Husseini. The Operation Nachshon as an opportunity toimplications of this death for the Palestinian prove the ALAs mettle. The choice ofnational struggle extended well beyond the Mishmar-Haemek could not have been betterfall of the strategic village. It led to a from a military point of view. Lying at thewidespread loss of purpose and foothills of Mount Ephraim, opposite thedemoralisation, with thousands of mourners Jezreel valley, the kibbutz was overlooked byparticipating in the funeral. In an ironic a number of Arab villages and flanked bytwist of history, the person who had been some others. Its occupation would havequite controversial during his lifetime, whose allowed the Arabs to isolate the strategicmilitary record had been far from a success town of Haifa by blocking the Wadi Millehstory and whose recruitment efforts had valley, through which all Jewish trafficbeen spurned by numerous villages and between Tel-Aviv and Haifa had to passtowns (two months before his death Abd following the closure of the countrys mainal-Qader was widely ridiculed in local coffee south-north artery along the Mediterranean,houses as Corporal Qader) had been to Jewish transportation.instantaneously transformed into a national In the early hours of 4 April, the ALAhero by virtue of his death. landed a heavy artillery barrage on Mishmar- A further blow to Arab morale was dealt Haemek using seven field guns it hadon 9 April, the day after Abd al-Qaders received from Syria. This was followed by andeath, when Irgun and Lehi fighters attack by some 1,000 soldiers which wasoccupied the village of Deir Yasin, on the contained by the defenders at the villageoutskirts of Jerusalem, killing in the process perimeter. A second attack, the next day, wassome 100 people (the figure given at the stopped by the British, who mediated atime was more than twice as high), including 24-hour ceasefire for the evacuation ofmany women and children. Although the women, children and wounded from theIrgun categorically denied any massacres, kibbutz. When fighting was resumed, theclaiming that the casualties had been caused Jews seized the initiative. An infantryin the course of heavy fighting; although the battalion, led by the Palmachs founding
  • 45. The fighting 45father, Yitzhak Sadeh, counter-attacked andcaptured several Arab villages andstrongholds in the mountains above and inthe rear of the kibbutz. For the next five daysand nights the two sides would battle overthese sites, with the Jews taking them bynight and the Arabs using their numericaland material superiority to regain them thefollowing day; one stronghold was subjectedto no less than 11 consecutive Arab attacks. In growing desperation on 12 Aprilal-Qawuqji mounted yet another largeassault on Mishmar-Haemek, only to find hisforces routed and in danger of encirclement.Realising that all was lost, he ordered a hastywithdrawal to the town of Jenin, in theSamaria area. Meanwhile, Hagana forcesdefeated an attack by a Druze battalion onkibbutz Ramat-Yohanan, north of Mishmar-Haemek, aimed at relieving the pressurefrom the ALA. The Jewish position in thesouth-western Galilee had been secured. On 11 May 1948 the Acting Head of the JewishThe fall of the Arab cities Agencys Political Department, Golda Mein held a secret meeting withTransjordans King Abdallah in an abortive attempt to prevent the imminent pan-Arab invasion.Encouraged by its recent operational (Topham Picturepoint)successes, the Hagana pressed ahead with theimplementation of Plan D, by seeking togain control over the mixed towns and quickly to try to fill the vacuum and assertcities in the nascent Jewish state. On 18 April control. By this time, only about half ofJewish forces captured the town of Tiberias, Haifas original Arab community remained,overlooking the Sea of Galilee, where some the rest having fled the town in the6,500 Jews and 2,000 Arabs were living. preceding months.Ignoring the pleas of the local Jewish But not for long. Disheartened by theleadership, the Arabs chose to leave the town desertion of their local military leaders, anden masse and were vacated by the British petrified by wildly exaggerated accounts ofarmy. The same scenario was to repeat itself the Deir Yasin tragedy, the remnant nowwithin days, albeit on a far wider scale, in took to the road. In the early morning ofthe city of Haifa, home to 75,000 Jews and 22 April, as Hagana forces battled their way62,500 Arabs. to the downtown market area, thousands From the outbreak of Arab-Jewish streamed into the port, still held by thehostilities, Haifa became engulfed in British army. Within hours, many of theseintermittent violence that pitted Arab had fled by trains and buses, while the restfighters, recruited locally as well as from awaited evacuation by sea.neighbouring Arab countries, against the What was left of the local Arab leadershipHagana. The hostilities would reach their now asked the British military to stop thepeak on 21-22 April 1948, when the British fighting. When this failed, a delegationsuddenly decided to evacuate most of the requested a meeting with the Britishtown and each of the two parties moved in commander, Major-General Hugh Stockwell,
  • 46. 46 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 The Battle for Haifawith a view to obtaining a truce with the modifying a number of them to meet ArabJews. Having learned from Stockwell the objections. Then the Arabs requested aHaganas terms for such a truce, the delegates 24-hour recess to give them the opportunitythen left to consult with their peers, before to contact their brothers in the Arab states.meeting their Jewish counterparts at 4.00 pm Although this was deemed unacceptable, aat City Hall. brief break was approved and the meeting There, after an impassioned plea for peace adjourned at 5.20 pm. When the Arabsand reconciliation by the towns Jewish returned that evening at 7.15 pm, they had amayor, Shabtai Levy, the assembled delegates surprise in store: as Stockwell would later putwent through the truce terms point by point, it in his official report, they stated that they
  • 47. The fighting 47were not in a position to sign the truce, as the Arabs. Think it over, as youll regret itthey had no control over the Arab military afterward. You must accept the conditions ofelements in the town and that, in all the Jews. They are fair enough. Dont permitsincerity, they could not fulfil the terms of life to be destroyed senselessly. After all, itthe truce, even if they were to sign. They was you who began the fighting, and thethen offered, as an alternative, that the Arab Jews have won.population wished to evacuate Haifa and But the Arabs were unmoved. The nextthat they would be grateful for military morning, they met with Stockwell and hisassistance. This came as a bombshell. With advisers to discuss the practicalities of thetears in his eyes, the elderly Levy pleaded evacuation. Of the 30,000+ Arabs still inwith the Arabs, most of whom were his Haifa, only a handful, they said, wished topersonal acquaintances, to reconsider, saying stay. Perhaps the British could providethat they were committing a cruel crime 80 trucks a day and in the meantime ensureagainst their own people. Yaacov Salomon, a an orderly supply of foodstuffs in the cityprominent Haifa lawyer and the Haganas and its environs? At this, a senior Britishchief liaison officer in the city, followed suit, officer at the meeting erupted: If you signassuring the Arab delegates that he had the your truce you would automatically get allinstructions of the commander of the zone your food worries over. You are merely... that if they stayed on they would enjoy starving your own people. We will notequality and peace, and that we, the Jews, sign, the Arabs retorted. All is already lost,were interested in their staying on and the and it does not matter if everyone is killed somaintenance of harmonious relations. Eventhe stoic Stockwell was shaken. You have The battle for Palestine. Israeli Forces capture Beersheba,made a foolish decision, he thundered at 2 November 1948. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 48. 48 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 W h i l e Golda Meir was meeting w i t h Abdallah, the A r a b Legion was battering the Etzion Bloc, a cluster of four Jewish settlements n o r t h of Hebron. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 49. The fighting 49
  • 50. 50 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 long as we do not sign the document. state against the will of the Arabs. The Arab Within a matter of days, only about 3,000 of peoples have accepted the challenge and soon Haifas Arab residents remained in the city. they will close their account with them. What had produced the seemingly instantaneous sea change from explicit interest in a truce to its rejection only a few On the eve of invasion hours later? It later transpired that during the brief respite in the negotiations granted By mid-May, the war effort of the Palestinian to them, the Arab delegates proceeded to Arabs had all but collapsed. Their foremost telephone the AHC office in Beirut for military leaders had either been killed instructions. They were then told explicitly (notably Abd al-Qader al-Husseini) or not to sign, but instead to evacuate the discredited (Hasan Salame), with their forces town. Astonished, the Haifa delegates thrown into disarray. The ALA was smarting protested but were assured that it is only a from the Mishmar-Haemek defeat. Four of matter of days before Arab retaliatory action the six mixed towns - Haifa, Jaffa, Safed and would commence, and since there will be a Tiberias - were in Jewish hands, while Acre lot of casualties following our intended had been isolated. Only in Jerusalem did theaction ... you [wouldj be held responsible for Arabs hold their ground and even there athe casualties among the Arab population mass flight from many neighbourhoods took left in the town. Reluctant to shoulder this place. Some 100 Arab villages throughout theheavy burden, the startled delegation country had been deserted by theirreturned to City Hall to announce its inhabitants or captured by the Hagana,decision to vacate Haifas Arab populace. which by now had re-opened the main The implications of this development road arteries in the north and south of thecannot be overstated. Haifa was no ordinary country to Jewish transportation. Aboutlocal town but one of Palestines foremost 200,000 Palestinians had fled their homes,socio-political and administrative centres for many of them to the neighbouringboth Arabs and Jews. It was one of the Arab states.primary ports of the eastern Mediterranean, For its part the Yishuv remained wary ofthe hub of Palestines railway system, the site the formidable obstacles that lay ahead. Weof the countrys oil refinery and a formidable are still far away from the required force toindustrial centre. Its Arab population was meet 15th May, Ben-Gurion told asecond in size only to that of Jaffa, high-level meeting on 16 April 1948. Weaccounting for one-tenth of the total lack almost half of the necessary manpower,Palestinian dispersion. Little wonder, then, about 80 per cent of the vehicles, andthat the fall of Haifa had a devastating impact substantial additional equipment.on Palestinian morale, accelerating their On 7 May, a week before the terminationcollapse and flight in numerous locations of the British Mandate, Ben-Gurion was stillthroughout the country. On 11 May, Safed fell concerned. After a sustained mobilisationto the Jews, followed the next day by Beisan. drive, begun in the wake of the UN partitionOn 13 May, the town of Jaffa, allocated to the vote, the Hagana had mustered someArab state by the Partition Resolution, 29,900 members: 16,400 field fighterssurrendered to the Hagana, with the organised in nine brigades andremaining population dispersing en masse. 13,500 settlers defending their villagers and No less importantly, the fall of Haifa gave towns. Yet only 60 per cent of the fightersthe final spur to the Arab states decision to were armed (for example, 1,200 ofinvade Palestine. As Abd al-Rahman Azzam, 2,200 fighters in the Alexandroni Brigadesecretary-general of the Arab League, declared and 1,200 of 2,000 in the Givati Brigade)shortly after the event: The Zionists are and there were serious shortages inseizing the opportunity to establish a Zionist explosives, ammunition and vehicles.
  • 51. The fighting 51 In a last-ditch attempt to prevent an Arab consider his offer, and if the reply wereinvasion, Ben-Gurion sent Golda Meir, affirmative, it had to be given beforeActing Head of the Jewish Agencys Political 15 May.Department, on a secret mission to King As the king was meeting with Mrs Meir,Abdallah, who in early May was made his Arab Legion was battering the Etzioncommander-in-chief of the impending Bloc. The attack began on 4 May, when apan-Arab campaign. The two had already Legion unit, assisted by Arab irregulars frommet secretly on 17 November 1947, but had the neighbouring villages and a number offailed to reach an agreement due to British tanks, tried to seize high ground inAbdallahs desire to annex the whole of the midst of the bloc so as to split it in half.Palestine, or at least its Arab parts, to his This was achieved within a week and onkingdom, and Meirs insistence on a 13 May the Legion stormed the blocs maintwo-state solution in accordance with kibbutz, Kfar-Etzion. Fifteen defenders, whoUNSCOP majority recommendations. In had laid down their weapons, weretheir second meeting, on 11 May 1948, the summarily slaughtered, together with dozensking was no more receptive to the idea of of other defenders and civilians, includingJewish statehood. Why are you in such a an Arab family who had been living on thehurry to proclaim your state?/ he asked. kibbutz. Only three men and a girl survivedWhy dont you wait a few years? I will take to tell the story. The blocs other threeover the whole country and you will berepresented in my parliament. I will treatyou very well and there will be no war. At four oclock on the afternoon of 14 May 1948 theMeirs categorical rejection of the idea failed Chairman of the Jewish Agency David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed the State of Israel. A few hours later theto impress the king. Even as she was taking newly established state was attacked by five Arab armies.her leave, Abdallah reiterated his request to (The State of IsraekThe National Photo Collection)
  • 52. 52 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948The invading Syrian forces managed to occupy a number Lebanese, Iraqi and Transjordanian armiesof Israeli settlements, but were beaten back at Degania, were to invade the nascent Jewish state fromthe first kibbutz to have been established. Here a all directions in a wide pincer movementdamaged Syrian tank outside Degania. (The State ofIsrael: The National Photo Collection) aimed at occupying the Galilee and the eastern Jezreel valley before reaching their main objective, the port town of Haifa.kibbutzim surrendered the next day, Meanwhile the Egyptian army wouldfollowing mediation by the International advance on Tel-Aviv, thus occupying theRed Cross, and were taken prisoners by countrys southern part and divertingthe Legion. maximum Israeli forces from the Arab assault The fall of the Etzion Bloc, together with on Haifa.Meirs failed mission, provided the final Though this plan had never been fullyproof, if such were needed at all at this stage, implemented, owing to mutual Arab distrustof the inevitability of an Arab invasion. At and the consequent lack of adequatefour oclock on the afternoon of 14 May 1948 operational co-operation, the simultaneousBen-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of invasion of Israel stretched to the limit thethe State of Israel, becoming its first Prime Jewish geostrategic vulnerabilities that hadMinister and Minister of Defence. That nightthe armies of five Arab states attacked the OPPOSITE TOP:The capture of Jerusalem constitutednewly created state. King Abdallahs foremost political-strategic objective during the war Here the citys Jewish Quarter under Arab Legion fire. (Topham Picturepomt)From invasion to first truce OPPOSITE BOTTOM: As a second truce was about to go into effect on 18 July 1948, the Israeli army managedAccording to the invasion plan, agreed by to capture the strategic towns of Lydda and Ramie onthe Arab leaders in late April, the Syrian, the central front. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 53. The fighting 53
  • 54. 54 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 The Arab invasion of Israel, May 1948
  • 55. The fighting 55From the earliest days of the war the Arabs sought to exploit their contro! of Palestines main road arteries to attackJewish transportation throughout the country.The Hagana sought to overcome this predicament by arranging largeconvoys to strategic locations. Here a convoy arriving in Jerusalem. (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 56. 56 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 already been revealed during the war with taking direct hits from the kibbutzs only the Palestinians. Many Jewish settlements, Piat anti-tank weapon. The story repeated especially in the Galilee and the Negev, itself in the neighbouring kibbutz of Nirim, found themselves totally isolated and were where the 40-odd defenders managed to forced to rely on their own tenacity and contain sustained Egyptian assaults backed by meagre resources (for example, 22 of the air bombardment. Negevs 27 settlements had fewer than The only kibbutz the Egyptians managed 30 defenders). to occupy at that stage was Yad-Moerdechai, In an attempt to incorporate its diverse whose fate was sealed by virtue of its underground organisations into a unified strategic location on the coastal road national force, on 28 May the provisionalgovernment issued the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Establishment Order. The Haganasgeneral staff and commanders continuedtheir functions at the newly establishedarmy, while the Irgun and Lehi weredisbanded and their members were absorbedinto the IDF (only in Jerusalem, which hadnot yet been incorporated into the nascentState of Israel, did the two organisationscontinue their activities until September 1948, when they were finally disbanded). The invading Egyptian force consisted ofsome 6,000 troops, organised in two infantrybrigades and a number of independentbattalions, and assisted by some2,000 Egyptian irregulars, mainly from themilitant religious organisation the MuslimBrothers, who had been operating inPalestine for some time. Springing frompositions in the eastern part of the SinaiPeninsula, which it had taken in late April,the Egyptian contingent mounted athree-pronged assault: one formationadvanced along the coastal road towardsTel-Aviv, another was landed by ship atMajdal, north of Gaza, while a third forcemoved north-east of Beersheba with some ofits units proceeding as far as the outskirts ofJerusalem, where they linked up withTransjordans Arab Legion. In order to protect their rear, the Egyptianssought to occupy a number of northernNegev kibbutzim. The first to come underattack was Kfar-Darom, a religious kibbutzsome 10 kilometres south of Gaza, which hadalready withstood an assault by MuslimBrothers fighters. After an artillery barrage,eight tanks approached the kibbutz, followedby infantry, only to beat a hasty retreat after
  • 57. The fighting 57between Gaza and Tel-Aviv. Having remnants abandoned the kibbutz, creepingmeticulously prepared the attack, the through enemy lines and carrying theirEgyptians threw to battle an entire brigade wounded with them. Yet the kibbutzscomprising two infantry battalions, an dogged resistance gave the IDF a mucharmoured battalion and an artillery needed respite to reinforce its forces south ofregiment. The 100 defenders managed tohold their ground for five days, by which On 14 May 1948 the British High Commissioner fortime many of them had been wounded or Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, left the country,killed and their ammunition nearly depleted. bringing to an end three decades of British mandatoryOn 24 May, under cover of darkness, their rule. (Hulton Getty)
  • 58. 58 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948Tel-Aviv and to absorb some heavier In order to protect their rear and flanks, the invadingweapons and fighter aircraft that had been Egyptian forces sought to occupy a number of Israel settlements in the northern Negev. After five days ofpurchased prior to 14 May but prevented heavy fighting they managed to capture the strategicallyfrom arriving in the country by the British located kibbutz ofYad Mordechai. (The State of Israel:naval blockade. Consequently, the Egyptian The National Photo Collection)
  • 59. The fighting 59The situation after the first truce, 11 June 1948
  • 60. 60 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 column advancing on Tel-Aviv stopped some two neighbouring kibbutzim. Yet following 30 kilometres south of the city, where it dug their failure to occupy Degania, the first in and spent the next weeks in intermittent kibbutz to have been established fin 1909), exchanges and sporadic attacks on local they withdrew from Zemakh and redeployed kibbutzim. For its part, the IDF failed in its in the hills to the east. Their only lasting attempt to breach the Egyptian siege of the achievement was the occupation on 10 June Negev by capturing the police fort at the of kibbutz Mishmar-Hayarden, a day before village of Iraq Sueidan, near Majdal. the first truce came into effect. Meanwhile as the Egyptians were moving The Lebanese Army was only marginally towards Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, the IDF were more successful. On 15 May, it managed to busy containing Arab attacks on other fronts. capture the village of Malkiya, the eastern Having suffered some painful blows while gateway from Lebanon to Israel, only to lose it fighting in the upper Jordan valley, an Iraqi three days later to an Israeli counter-attack. On division comprising one armoured and two 6 June, a combined two-brigade force of the infantry brigades, took up positions in the Syrian, Lebanese and ALA troops attacked and Samaria area known as the triangle, between re-occupied Malkiya, thus allowing the ALA tothe towns of Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarm, from redeploy and consolidate its forces in thewhere on 25 May it launched an attack in the Arab-populated central Galilee.direction of Netanya. This failed, but the IDFwas sufficiently alarmed by the prospect of yetanother thrust by this formidable force The war for Jerusalemtowards the coastal plain - which could, ifsuccessful, cut through the Jewish state - as to In a telegram to the British Foreign Office onlaunch on 29 May a counter-attack aimed at 13 April, Sir Alec Kirkbride, the influentialestablishing defensive positions vis-a-vis the British ambassador to Amman, reported thatIraqi contingent. An Israeli force even the Transjordanian Government realisedmanaged to occupy Jenin, but was dislodged that Jerusalem presents too big a problem forfrom the town after three days of heavy the Arab Legion to deal with alone, [hence]fighting with the Iraqis. Thereafter the status present intention is to avoid a clash with thequo between the Israeli and the Iraqi forces Jews but whether or not this will be possiblewas retained until the declaration of the first remains to be seen.truce on 11 June 1948. The only Iraqi gain Reality, however, was quite different. Farprior to the truce was the occupation of the from presenting too big a problem,headwaters of the Yarkon River and the Jerusalem constituted one of King Abdallahspumping station at Ras el-Ein, some foremost political-strategic objectives. An20 kilometres south-east of Tel Aviv, which astute politician, Abdallah was keenly awareprovided the water to Jerusalem. of the enormous prestige attending the North of the Iraqis, a Syrian infantry inclusion of Jerusalem in his kingdom, notbrigade, together with a mechanised least in view of the Hashemites loss in thebattalion, an artillery regiment, and a 1920s of their historic custodianship ofcompany of tanks, crossed into Israel on the Islams holiest shrines in Mecca and Medinanight of 15 May with a view to storming the to their nemesis, the House of Saud. Ignoringcluster of kibbutzim around the Sea of the discrepancy between this ambition andGalilee before forging ahead into the central those of the Palestinians and the Arab states,Galilee and Haifa. This did not happen as not to mention the Partition Resolution, hethe kibbutzim held their ground for much began to put his strategy in place even beforelonger than anticipated. It was only on the termination of the Mandate by occupying18 May that the Syrians managed to capture then destroying the Etzion Bloc. Once thekibbutz Zemakh, at the southern tip of the British were out and his hands were free,Sea of Galilee and force the evacuation of Abdallah ordered the Legion into Jerusalem.
  • 61. The fighting 61 This development could not have been of misunderstandings between the ALA andmore inauspicious for the Israelis. On the Arab Legion, the former had vacated its20 April, the newly established Harel Brigade, positions, including the police fortress ofcommanded by Yitzhak Rabin and which had Latrun dominating the road, before the lattersecured the corridor to Jerusalem, opened moved in. And so, on 16 May, the road toduring Operation Nachshon, was ordered to Jewish Jerusalem was open again, though thisthe city and the ALA immediately seized the was not for long. Now it was the Israelis turnhigh ground dominating the road to the city. to be negligent and to leave the LatrunRecognising its mistake, on 8 May the stronghold unmanned. This vacuum wasHagana mounted a new offensive, code- quickly filled by the Arab Legion, whosenamed Operation Maccabee, to recapture British commander, Sir John Bagot Glubb, orthese sites. For the next 10 days, forces from Glubb Pasha as he was commonly known,the Harel and the Givati brigades were to be quickly recognised Latruns vital strategiclocked in bitter fighting with the ALA, with importance and did not fail to seize thepositions changing hands several times. By golden opportunity given to him. Jewish14 May, Givati had occupied a number of Jerusalem was besieged again.strategic strongholds, including the ancient As the last British forces left Jerusalem onfortress of Gezer, south of the Tel-Aviv- 14 May, the Jews and the Arabs rushed to fillJerusalem road, only to see victory snatchedfrom its fingers as it was transferred to the One of the main successes of Operation Yoav was thesouth to contain the Egyptian invasion. capture of the central Negev town of Beersheba. (TheFortunately for the Israelis, owing to a series State of IsraelThe National Photo Collection)
  • 62. 62 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - T h e Palestine War 1948 the vacuum. Two days later the Hagana had OPPOSITE: An Israeli soldier with a local Arab resident consolidated its control over the Jewish in Majdal, after the towns capture by the IDF. (The State of Israel: The National Photo Collection) neighbourhoods in west Jerusalem but was forced to vacate the outlying neighbourhoods of Atarot and Neve-Yaacov in the north of made its first assault together with units the city. The Jewish community of the Old from the Alexandroni Brigade, at dawn of City was still besieged, while kibbutz Ramat- 25 May, in full view of enemy forces. A Rahel, in the south of the city, came under a withdrawal was promptly ordered, during ferocious attack on 21 May by a joint force of which the Jewish forces suffered hundredsthe Arab Legion and the Muslim Brothers. of casualties. For the next four days the place was to Notwithstanding this painful defeat, and change hands several times until it was the critical situation throughout the country, recaptured on 25 May by the defenders, Ben-Gurion remained adamant on assisted by forces from the Harel Brigade, Jerusalems immediate relief. A second assault never to fall again. on Latrun was thus hatched on 30 May. This By this time the Arab Legion had subjected time the attackers managed to penetrate intothe whole of Jewish Jerusalem to a sustained the compounds courtyard, but failed toassault, with more than 10,000 artillery and breach the fortresss wall and were forced tomortar shells raining day and night on the withdraw. Yet another attack on the night ofcity. Food, water and fuel were in extremely 9-10 June was similarly stillborn.short supply. Since the water pipeline from the Fortunately for Israel, an alternative routecoast had been blown up, each family was between Jerusalem and the coast was found.rationed one bucket of water, obtained horn Dubbed the Burma Road, it was a rough dirtwells and cisterns. Weeds from gardens and track broken by a stiff wadi, and made fit foropen spaces were collected and cooked over vehicles in a short period of time. And so, byopen fires for lack of food, fuel and electricity. the time the first truce went into effect onCemeteries were inaccessible because of the 11 June, Jewish Jerusalem could beheavy fighting and people were buried where resupplied again, however tenuously, just asthey fell, in back gardens. Still Jewish it was down to its last food rations.Jerusalem held its ground, repelling successivepenetration attempts by the Arab Legion,often in hand-to-hand fighting. The Old Citys From truce to truceJewish Quarter was the only Jewishneighbourhood to succumb to the Legions The truce could not have been more timelyattacks: on 28 May, with only 36 of its for both sides. With its human resources300 fighters capable of manning positions, extended to the limit, and its war materieland with hardly any ammunition left, the markedly inferior to that of its Arablocal commander gave the surrender order. adversaries, Israel needed a respite to In the meantime the Hagana had been regroup, reorganise and absorb the weaponsseeking to break the siege of Jerusalem by systems that were being shipped fromrecapturing Latrun. To this end, a special Europe and the United States. For their part,formation, the 7th Brigade, was hastily after a month of fighting, the Arabs hadassembled and thrown into battle within a failed to achieve their overarching goal ofweek of its formation, without being given a nipping the nascent Jewish state in the bud,chance to organise or train properly. The with only a few Israeli settlements fallingresults, not surprisingly, were little short of into their hands. Most of their armies werecatastrophic. Facing the best-trained Arab in desperate need for reorganisation andarmy, sheltered in heavily fortified positions, replenishment, especially the Arab Legion,and having lost the element of surprise which had taken heavy casualties andowing to navigation problems, the brigade suffered from an acute ammunition shortage.
  • 63. The fighting 63
  • 64. 64 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - T h e Palestine War 1948The war had also exposed the depth of But the main IDF offensive during this inter-Arab enmities and reluctance to period was directed against the Arab Legion, in subordinate self-interest to the Arab an attempt to occupy the strategic towns of collective good. Egypt, for one, confiscated a Ramie and Lydda, assigned by the UN to the large shipment of ammunition, sent from Arab state, before moving against Latrun andthe British military stores in the Canal Zone Ramallah with a view to breaking the siege ofand intended for the Arab Legion. Jerusalem. Codenamed Operation Danny and Little wonder therefore that both Arabs headed by Yigal Allon, the commander of theand Israelis used the lull in the fighting to Palmach, the Israeli force advanced in a pincerimprove their respective positions, in total movement, simultaneously closing on thedisregard of the truces prerequisite to freeze towns from the north-west and the south-the military situation as it had existed prior west. Having seized a dozen neighbouringto its entry in force. When hostilities ceased villages, on 11 July it occupied Lydda and itson 11 June, there were some 60,000 active 30,000-strong population, many of themcombatants - Arabs and Jews - in Palestine; refugees from other parts of the country, eitherwhen they were resumed on 8 July, these fled or were herded on to the road offorces had expanded to about 100,000. Even Ramallah. The next day Ramie surrenderedmore striking was the shift in the material after a brief engagement and, north of thisbalance of forces. At the time of the truce, sector, the vital springs of Ras el-Ein, whichthe British believed that the Jews are too had been seized by the Iraqis in June, wereweak in armament to achieve spectacular recaptured. Only in Latrun did the Arabsuccess, as the fledgling IDF was beset by Legion hold its ground against the Israeliacute shortages of small arms, not to speak offensive.of major weapons systems that could When a second UN-organised truce wentconfront the deadly Arab arsenal of aircraft, into effect on 18 July, Israel was intanks, artillery and armoured cars. When possession of some 1,000 square-kilometresfighting resumed, Israel had a number of on top of the territory held on 11 June. Theaircraft, tanks and artillery, as well as Arab pressure on Jerusalem had been greatlynumerous mortars and sufficient small arms. relieved and on 2 August the IsraeliThis in turn allowed it to seize the initiative Government effectively annexed the citysand move on to the offensive. Jewish part by appointing a military On 9 July, the IDF attacked the Syrian governor to oversee its affairs. Thoughpositions near Mishmar-Hayarden in an disappointed with the truces timing, whichattempt to push them back across the Jordan prevented the IDF from consolidating itsRiver. This failed, but yet another offensive, latest gains, Ben-Gurion began planning forcodenamed Operation Dekel, managed to the post-war situation: reducing the burdencapture a string of villages and towns, of the military budget ... Readiness for peacenotably Nazareth, thus bringing the Lower not necessarily on the basis of our existingGalilee, from Haifa Bay to the Sea of Galilee, force {which in my opinion allows theunder Israeli control. occupation of the whole of Palestine). In the south the IDF moved quickly tocontain the Egyptians, who on the morningof 8 July launched a series of attacks in an Towards a military decisionattempt to consolidate their blockade of theNegev, and for the next eight days Ben-Gurions planning was premature. Theconducted heavy battles with the Egyptian fighting was far from over. In Jerusalemforces. On the night of 17 July, with another shelling, shooting and incursions into eachtruce looming, the IDF managed to breach others territory were regular occurrences, asthe Egyptian line and to open a tenuous were Egyptian attacks on the Jewish convoyscorridor to the isolated Negev settlements. making their way to the Negev. In the
  • 65. The fighting 65central front the Iraqi contingent, now some late September these efforts seemed to be20,000 strong, continued to threaten the crowned with success as the report of the UNIsraeli settlements in the Sharon and the Mediator to the Middle East, Count Folkecoastal plain, while the ALA in the central Bernadotte of Sweden, published shortlyGalilee was occasionally harassing local after his assassination by Lehi extremists,Israeli villages. recommended that the borders of the Things came to a head on 15 October nascent Jewish and Arab states be revised to1948 when the IDF launched the largest reflect the military situation on the ground:offensive in the war until then and within a Israel would receive the entire Galilee, ratherfortnight of heavy fighting re-established full than part of it, while the Arabs would retaincommunications with the Negev settlements. the far larger Negev.The offensives immediate cause was the This was totally unacceptable to Ben-latest in a string of Egyptian attacks on Gurion, who viewed the Negev as IsraelsIsraeli supply convoys. Yet it reflected strategic and demographic hinterland, aBen-Gurions growing fear that Israels barren desert destined to be made to bloom,continued failure to assert its sovereignty home to millions of prospective Jewishover the area, ceded to it by the UN PartitionResolution, would result in its severancefrom the Jewish state. The British had long On 22 December 1948. the IDF launched a large-scale offensive, code-named Operation Horev. and within abeen trying to mobilise international week expelled the Egyptian forces from Israeli territorysupport for the cession of the Negev to their and penetrated the Sinai Peninsula up to the strategicArab clients, Transjordan and Egypt, in sire of Abu Ageila. (The State of Israel: The Nationalcontravention of the Partition Resolution. In Photo Collection)
  • 66. 66 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 Operation Danny, 1 1 - 1 2 July 1948
  • 67. The fighting 67Operation Horev, 22 December 1948-2 January 1949
  • 68. 68 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 immigrants. He therefore approved the plan brigades headed by Moshe Carmel, prepared by Yigael Yadin, the IDFs Acting commander of the northern front. In chief of staff, and Yigal Allon, to break the 60 hours of fighting in which some 400 Arab Egyptian line of defence stretching from the fighters were killed and a similar number Mediterranean to the Hebron Hills. taken prisoner, the Israelis expelled the Code-named Operation Yoav (also known ALA and a Syrian battalion from the Upper by its provisional name Operation Ten Galilee, subsequently sweeping into Plagues) and commanded by Allon, the Lebanon, capturing a number of border offensive was carried out by a sizeable Israeli villages and reaching as far as the Litani force of one armoured and three infantry River. As in the Negev, a hastily contrived brigades, with artillery and air support. Even UN ceasefire was arranged. the fledgling Israeli Navy participated in the By now it had become increasingly clear operation by shelling Egyptian coastal to the Israelis that yet another major driveinstallations, preventing naval resupply of against Egypt would be required, as the latterenemy forces, and, most spectacularly, sinking refused to countenance peace negotiations,the Egyptian flagship, the Emir Farouq. and continued to harass the Israeli Facing them was a 15,000-strong and settlements in the Negev as they sought towell-fortified Egyptian force, consisting of revamp their shattered presence in the area,two infantry brigades along the Rafah-Isdud When this was eventually mounted onaxis; a reinforced brigade, holding the line 22 December, under the code-name ofeastward from Majdal to Beit Jibrin; and nine Operation Horev, it managed to clear thebattalions of mostly Muslim Brothers Egyptians from Israeli territory within fiveirregulars holding the Auja-Beersheba- days, pursuing them into the Sinai PeninsulaHebron-Bethlehem axis. These were as far as Abu Ageila in the centre andsupported by two artillery regiments and an al-Arish in the north. This incursion,armoured battalion. however, brought Israel under intense Yet for all its superiority in firepower and international pressure, with Britain evenits strong entrenched position, the Egyptian threatening to invoke its 1936 bilateral treatydeployment suffered from a major with Egypt. On 1 January 1949, Allon wasoperational flaw - lack of depth in defence - ordered to evacuate Sinai within one day.which Allon exploited to the full. When the Reluctant to let the opportunity to rout thefighting was over by early November (a Egyptian Army slip from his fingers, Allonceasefire was announced by the UN on managed to convince Ben-Gurion to approve22 October but operations continued after an attack on the town of Rafah, south ofthat date), the Egyptians had been driven Gaza, but not on al-Arish. This would be afrom their positions along the coastline, far more demanding undertaking, givenfrom Isdud to Gaza, and in the Judean and Rafahs superior defences, but would removethe Hebron Hills. Their extended line of the danger of an Israeli-British confrontationdefence was in tatters and the key town of while having the same strategic effect ofBeersheba had fallen to the Israelis. An bottling the Egyptian forces within theentire Egyptian brigade, some 4,000 troops Gaza area. After a few days of fighting,with all its heavy equipment, was trapped the Israelis managed to capture the highin what would come to be known as the ground around the town overlooking theFaluja Pocket. road and the railway line to Sinai. By now Emboldened by its success, the IDF the Egyptian Government had realised theproceeded to rout the Arab forces in the threat to its forces and on 6 JanuaryGalilee so as to secure Israels position in announced its agreement to enter intothe area. Mounted on the night of armistice negotiations under UN mediation.28-29 October, Operation Hiram was carried The following day the guns on theout by a combined force of four infantry southern front fell silent.
  • 69. Portrait of a soldierTrapped on the battlefieldThere was no more serious defeat for the IDF British detention camps in Cyprus,during the Palestine War than the failure to undergoing a crash course in militarycapture the strategic police station in Latrun, training. As he was watching, Arik could notat the foot of the Judean Hills overlooking help wondering which of these youngthe Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road. On three people, who had barely survived theoccasions the IDF mounted large attacks on Holocaust, would not be coming back. Thethis heavily fortified and defended site, only next day the battalions equipment arrivedto be beaten back with heavy casualties by and the following night, 25 May, the battlethe defending Arab Legion. was waged. Participating in the first attack was a The Alexandroni battalion was assigned20-year-old soldier by the name of Ariel the primary task of pushing theScheinerman, better known by his Hebrew Transjordanians off the height, thenname, Ariel (or Arik) Sharon. Born in 1928 capturing a strategically located monasteryin Kfar-Malal, a co-operative fanning village and finally taking the police station and the 15 miles north-east of Tel-Aviv on the coastal village of Latrun. As Arik studied the map, hePlain of Sharon, Arik was initiated into the knew exactly how he would do it. CoveredHagana at the tender age of 14. Three years by the night, he would take his platoon uplater, in the summer of 1945, he undertook a the left side of the hill, skirt the crown, thensquad leader course in a Negev kibbutz, hit directly into the middle of thebefore enrolling in the British-controlled Trans Jordanian positions, taking them byJewish Settlement Police. When hostilities surprise. With the battalion due to be inbroke out in late 1947, Arik was recruited control of the heights by dawn, the captureagain to the Hagana, as part of the Yishuvs of the monastery, directly beneath the newlygeneral mobilisation drive. He participated captured Israeli positions, seemed a relativelyin a number of raids on Arab targets, easy task.quickly rising in the ranks to become a Tragically for the battalion, instead ofplatoon commander. attacking towards midnight under the cover As the offensive against Latrun was being of darkness, it reached its jumping-offprepared, a battalion from the Alexandroni position only at 4.00 am when the first raysBrigade, to which Sharons platoon belonged, of dawn had already appeared. While wewas attached to the 7th Brigade which was waited, a nerve-racking half-hour turned intoto lead the assault. As they were travelling an hour, then one hour became two,from their base in Netanya to Latrun, the recalled Arik. As the night began to slip wesoldiers watched with astonishment the sat on the buses and worried, beginning tousual bustle of civilian life in Tel-Aviv, before dread what might happen if we were caughtarriving at their concentration point near in front of the hill by the notoriously suddenkibbutz Hulda. There they slept the night Judean daylight.fitfully in an open field next to the road, This fear turned out to be fully justified.listening to the drone of aeroplanes as they As it disembarked from the buses and startedcircled in the dark. its advance, five hours behind schedule, the The next day they rested in an olive grove battalion came under heavy machine-gunwatching a group of young Jewish refugees, fire, with many of its soldiers wounded orwho had just arrived in the country from the killed. When the morning fog evaporated in
  • 70. 70 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 The first Israeli attack on Latrun, 23 May 1948a moment of startling swiftness, Ariks then let loose a barrage of fire from theirplatoon found itself alone, caught in an machine-guns, submachine guns and field, protected only by a shallow A moment later the Arabs were retreatingdepression that gave it a degree of cover into the wadi, carrying their wounded withfrom the machine-gun and rifle fire pouring them. Creeping on their stomachs, Arik anddown from the Legions positions on the hill. his soldiers pulled their wounded back to aWith its one radio smashed by an enemy small spring, where they braced themselvesbullet, the platoon was unable to for the next assault.communicate with the rest of the battalion, This was not long in coming. In the nextand had to hold out in anticipation of the few hours the Arabs came again and again,resumption of the attack. In the worst-case each time the same way - moving in,scenario, Arik told his soldiers, they would shouting, firing. Around noon, the Arabs onhave to wait until night when they would be the hill intensified their fire, the usualable to escape. forerunner to another assault. Raising The platoon had been in the gully for himself up to see what was happening, Arikalmost two hours when the Legions fire felt something thud into his stomach,increased in volume and tempo. On the hill knocking him back. He heard himself sayin front of them the fighters saw Arab imah - mother - and immediatelysoldiers moving in their direction, firing as glanced around to see whether any of thethey ran, then disappearing into a men had heard him. Blood was seepingneighbouring wadi. A few minutes later a through his shirt and from his shorts,line of them emerged from the wadi and when he noticed another wound in hisfrom a vineyard in front of the platoon, thigh. He lay down, still lucid, but feelingcrawling and firing. The fighters waited his strength ebbing away. Still, when twountil the Arabs were within 30 or 40 yards, older members of the platoon crawled to
  • 71. Portrait of a soldier 71him, asking how he envisaged getting them he reached the wall to the second. Blood wasaway, he mustered enough strength to seeping from his trousers, and he knew thereanswer confidently: Look, Ive gotten you was no way he could clamber up on to theout of a lot of tight places before. Ill get you second terrace. On his hands and knees heout of this too. struggled a few yards farther, then almost About one oclock the Legions fire gave up when he saw a young boy from hisseemed to have reduced in intensity. Arik platoon crawling up the slope on his left,knew something was happening but could Arik stared in horror at the boy, whose jawnot tell what it was, until it suddenly had been shot up, leaving a mass of gore. Atdawned on him that the platoon remained almost the same moment the boy saw Arik.totally alone, the other units having Neither of them said a word. The boy waswithdrawn from the field. Arab villagers unable to talk, Arik was too weak. Then thewere moving over the hills behind, waving boy began crawling next to Arik, keepingtheir weapons, and there was nothing that him moving, pushing him and supportingcould save the platoon. By now, almost half him over the terrace wall. Arik tried to tellof its fighters were dead and most of the him to go on and save himself, but heothers wounded, some critically. Arik saw wouldnt leave.the hopelessness in his mens eyes as he Together the two crawled over one rockygave the order and pointed out the terrace after another, their hands and kneesdirection - straight back through the smoke burned from the charred earth. On the farand over the terraces. With any luck, the side of the slopes they met more dazedLegionnaires in front of them would keep stragglers. One of them, the deputy companytheir heads down; if they did not - they commander, himself wounded, got hiswould all be dead before they reached shoulder under Ariks arm, and leaning histhe terraces. weight on him kept him moving. The water in the spring where they were They walked like that for several mileslying had long evaporated in the scorching through the smoke and fire. From time tosun, and the mud was already streaking red. time other figures stumbled out of the sootyUnable to contain his thirst, Arik crawled haze, all of them moving in the direction ofover to the spring and lowered his lips to the Hulda. Just before he lost consciousness Arikbloody puddle. He then crawled on all fours saw a jeep driving in and out of the blackenedinto the field, unable to get up. The rocks field searching for survivors. As it circled andtore his knees as he made his way along the drove close he recognised the girl driving andside of the first terrace behind the gully, but the boy sitting next to her as members ofsomehow he managed to keep crawling until Kfar-Malal. A moment later he passed out.
  • 72. The world around war The great game The invasion of Palestine by the Arab stateswas the first armed aggression which theworld had seen since the end of the [SecondWorld] War, Trygve Lie, the first UNsecretary-general wrote in his memoirs. TheUnited Nations could not permit thataggression to succeed and at the same timesurvive as an influential force for peacefulsettlement, collective security, andmeaningful international law. A chain can only be as strong as itsweakest link, and the UN as its leastco-operative great power. As the onlypermanent members of the Security Council,the UNs executive arm, the Big Five - theUnited States, Britain, the Soviet Union,France and China - could and did exertdisproportionate influence on theinternational politics of the nascent worldorganisation. The Soviet support for the ideaof partition was instrumental in obtainingthe necessary majority for the PartitionResolution, as were President Trumansexertions on its behalf. The relentlessopposition to the idea by the British and theAmerican foreign and defence establishmentsalmost nipped it in the bud. For policy-makers in London andWashington the idea of an independentJewish state was anathema. As occupiers ofvast territories endowed with naturalresources (first and foremost oil) and sittingastride strategic waterways (for example, theSuez Canal) the Arabs had always been farmore meaningful to Anglo-Americaninterests than the Jews. Jewish nationalaspirations were merely a nuisance whichunnecessarily marred relations with theirArab clients and had therefore to beneutralised. No solution of the Palestine Vehemently opposed to the creation of a Jewishproblem should be proposed which would state. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin did his utmost to prevent the adoption of the UNalienate the Arab states, the British chiefs-of- Partition Resolution and its implementation.staff advised the cabinet. For, if one of the (Topham Picturepoint)
  • 73. The world around war 73two communities had to be antagonised, it such a blow to UN prestige that Secretary-was preferable, from the purely military General Lie seriously considered resigningangle, that a solution should be found which his post. But this episode pales indid not involve the continuing hostility of comparison with the sustained British effortthe Arabs; for in that event our difficulties to frustrate the will of the internationalwould not be confined to Palestine but community as expressed in the Partitionwould extend throughout the whole of the Resolution. Though emerging from theMiddle East. And Sir John Troutbeck, Head Second World War a spent power, in itsof the British Middle East Office in Cairo, capacity as the occupying power ofput it in even stronger terms: Palestine, Britain was uniquely poised to influence the countrys future development. We [and the Arabs] are partners inadversity on this question. A Jewish state is no Great Britain had placed the [Palestine]more in our interest than it is in the Arabs ... matter before the Assembly with the declaredOur whole strategy in the ME is founded upon conviction that agreement between the Arabsholding a secure base in Egypt, but the and Jews was unattainable, wrote an evidentlyusefulness of the base must be gravely impaired frustrated Trygve Lie. This did not deter theif we cannot move out of it except through British representative, [Colonial Secretary] Arthurhostile country. Creech Jones, from informing the Assembly that Britain would give effect only to a plan accepted To this must be added the deep concerns, by the Arabs and the Jews ... The Britishespecially by US Secretary of Defense James approach proved to be not in accord, in myForrestal, about the future availability of opinion, with either the letter or the spirit of theMiddle-Eastern oil and the unquestioning partition plan, Lie added:belief that, if established, a Jewish statewould become a Soviet outpost in the the United Kingdom could not progressivelyMiddle East. Even President Truman, who turn over authority to the Palestine Commission,overruled the view of his bureaucrats to as the Assembly resolution provided, but onlysupport the establishment of a Jewish state abruptly and completely on 15 May. Neither didand then to render it immediate de facto it regard favourably any proposal by therecognition, was sufficiently alarmed by this Commission to proceed to Palestine earlier thanargument to dispatch a special envoy to two weeks before the date of the termination ofBen-Gurion to enquire whether Israel was the Mandate. London would not permit thegoing to become a red state. formation of the militia which the Assemblys resolution called for, nor would it facilitate frontier delimitation. The Assembly hadObstructing the Partition further recommended that the United KingdomResolution endeavour to evacuate by February 1 a seaport and hinterland in the area of theAlthough these fears proved to be largely Jewish state adequate to provide facilitiesmisguided, they seemed real enough in the for to the General Assemblys vote andthe subsequent months until the The British High Commissioner fortermination of the British Mandate to Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, wasendanger the implementation of the similarly exasperated with his governmentsPartition Resolution. obstructionism. It appears to me that It was the British Government that H.M.G.s policy is now simply to get out ofproved the most formidable obstacle to Palestine as quickly as possible withoutpartition. To be sure, the sudden American regard to the consequences in Palestine/ hetrusteeship proposal in March 1948 dealt wrote to Creech Jones.
  • 74. 74 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 Cunninghams pleas fell on deaf ears. Jewish State as a golden opportunity to undoHaving failed to prevent Palestines smooth the UN Partition Resolution and cut Israeltransition to statehood, the Foreign Office down to size. Already in February 1948,welcomed the pan-Arab invasion of the following a meeting between the British
  • 75. The fighting 75Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, and In late May 1948 the UN Mediator; Count Folke Bernadotte (second left), arrived in the Middle East inTransjordans Prime Minister, Tawfiq Abu an attempt to bring about an end to the war Israelial-Huda, in which the former acquiesced in a militants assassinated him on 17 September (TophamTrans Jordanian invasion of Palestine after the Picturepoint)
  • 76. 76 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948termination of the Mandate, Bernard by the UN Partition Resolution. The territoriesBurrows, Head of the Foreign Offices Eastern assigned by the UN to the prospective ArabDepartment, commented that: state were to be incorporated into the neighbouring Arab states. It is tempting to think that Transjordan Bernadotte was duly impressed. From themight transgress the boundaries of the United beginning of his mission, he had beenNations Jewish State to the extent of establishing echoing the British disparagement of thea corridor across the Southern Negev joining the Partition Resolution as a grave error thatexisting Transjordan territory to the Mediterranean had to be redressed in the near term.and Gaza. This would have immense strategic When his plan was eventually published onadvantages for us, both in cutting the Jewish State, 20 September 1948, shortly after hisand therefore Communist influence, off from the assassination by Israeli militants, it bore theRed Sea and by extending up to the Mediterranean traditional hallmarks of Foreign Officethe area in which our military and political thinking, namely: that an independentinfluence is predominant by providing a means of Arab state in Palestine should not besending necessar} military equipment etc. into established and that most of its territoryTransjordan other than by the circuitous route should be annexed to Transjordan; thatthrough Aqaba. Israels territory should be greatly reduced; that the port of Haifa should become an On 20 May 1948, five days after the international zone; and that JewishArab invasion, Bevin himself wrote to the immigration to Israel should be regulated byBritish Ambassador in Washington, Lord the UN. This last point, in particular, wasInverchapel: conspicuously modelled on the British assessment, passed to Bernadotte, that the I do not (repeat not) intend in the near future Arab governments would never reconcileto recognise the Jewish State and still less to themselves to the existence of ansupport any proposal that it should become a independent Jewish state unless theremember of the United Nations. In this should be international agreement to acceptconnection I hope that even though the numbers of Jewish displaced personsAmericans have recognised the Jewish State de elsewhere than in Israel, and conceivablyfacto they will not commit themselves to any also to limit immigration to Israel.precise recognition of boundaries. It might wellbe that if the two sides ewr accept a compromiseit would be on the basis of boundaries differing Helping the Arabsfrom those recommended in the Partition Planof the General Assembly. The British also sought to dictate the scope and pace of the war operations by That these border revisions were not controlling the levels of armament availableconceived in terms favourable to Israel, or for to both sides and by bringing about thethat matter to the Palestinian Arabs (as early as cessation of hostilities at critical junctures.July 1946 Bevin had advised the Cabinet to In December 1947, the US administrationassimilate most of the Arab areas of Palestine suspended all arms shipments to the Middlein Transjordan and Lebanon), was evidenced East in line with a UN arms embargo. Thisby the tireless British attempts to convince the move was favourably viewed by the British, asUN Mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, who it damaged Jewish efforts to arm themselvesarrived in the Middle East at the end of May while having practically no impact on the1948, to devise a solution that would reduce Arab states, notably Transjordan, Egypt andIsrael to approximately the same size as that Iraq, which were armed and trained byenvisaged by the 1937 Peel Partition Plan - Britain. But by the beginning of 1948 Bevinabout half the size allotted to the Jewish state became increasingly concerned lest the
  • 77. The world around war 77Jewish pressure for the lifting of the American but even there the Arabs managed to holdembargo on the purchase of amis to the Jews on to a sizeable enclave in the centralin Palestine will become irresistible unless we Galilee. Were the war to stop at this point,are able to make an intelligent statement the British goal of Smaller Israel would havesaying that we have decided upon a fully materialised.temporary suspension of deliveries of arms to Another factor that drove Britain tothe Arab states. It went without saying that change tack was the mounting public outrageBritain was willing to continue arms in the United States over its attitude towardsdeliveries to the Arab states, but it was the war, and the distinct possibility that thedoubtful whether: arms embargo would be shortly lifted. On 20 May, the US Secretary of State, George this course would be the one most Marshall, said in a press conference that theadvantageous to the Arabs themselves ...The lifting of the embargo by the United Statesadvantage which the jews would obtain from a was under consideration. Four days laterlifting of the American embargo in their favour Chaim Weizmann held a meeting withwould be out of all proportion to any advantage President Truman following which he statedwhich the Arabs in Palestine could derive from that the President gave him hope that theour shipments to the Arab States. Whether or United States would lift the embargo on thenot the Palestine Government was able to export of arms to the Middle East in the notprevent the delivery of arms to the Jews before too distant future. On 26 May, congressmanMay 15th we should have no right to interfere Jacob Javits introduced to the House ofafter that date. Representatives a measure, in the form of an amendment to the G r e e k - Turkish aid This logic was sustained following the programme, to authorise a $100 million loanArab invasion of Israel. At the initial stage of to Israel to provide military supplies andthe war, when the Arabs went from strength technical assistance. To make matters worse,to strength, the British collaborated with the Senate Appropriations Committeethem in forestalling an immediate Security demanded an official investigation toCouncil ceasefire resolution, both because it determine whether funds advanced to Britaininvoked the threat of sanctions against the were used to assist the Arab invasion of Israel,Arab attackers under Chapter 7 (Article 39) and whether US lend-lease equipment wasof the UN Charter, and because the Arabs being used for this purpose. The Chancellorseemed well poised to make further of the Exchequer told the Cabinet:territorial gains in Palestine. Before long, however, the British changed that this enquiry might cause us sometheir mind. The Arab states had secured embarrassment, for, when we excluded Palestinesubstantial chunks of Palestine, reducing and Transjordan from the sterling area, we hadIsraels territory to a fraction of that awarded provided them with United States dollars withby the UN General Assembly: the entire which to finance their current transactions. ItNegev was in Arab hands, apart from a seemed important that difficulties of this kindnumber of Jewish pockets; the Egyptian should not be allowed to affect the attitude ofarmy was parked some 30 kilometres south the United States Administration towards theof Tel-Aviv on the coastal plain and flow of supplies to this country under thepenetrated the Judean Desert up to the European Recovery Programme.outskirts of Jerusalem; the Arab Legionoccupied most of the Arab territory of By this time the Foreign Office hadMandatory Palestine and was keeping the become sufficiently alarmed to modify itspressure on Jewish Jerusalem. Only in the truce resolution so as to bring about itsGalilee did Israel occupy some territory immediate adoption by the Security Council.awarded to the Arabs by the UN Resolution, The original proposal, which called for a
  • 78. 78 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 Operation Uvda
  • 79. The world around war 79four-week truce accompanied by a ban on the Nor did the British Foreign Office contentsupply of arms to the belligerents and on the itself with the hope that the truce wouldintroduction of fighting men into the area, mortally wound Israel by keeping Arab gainswas doubtless designed to harm Israel rather intact and ushering in a political settlementthan its Arab enemies. For one thing, due to that would reduce the territory of the Jewishthe American embargo and the British naval state well beyond that envisaged by theblockade of Palestine up to the Arab attack, Partition Resolution. Instead it volunteeredthe Jews were overwhelmingly inferior to the free advice to the Arab states on how toinvading Arab forces in terms of military exploit this valuable respite to effect theequipment and war materiel; were the diminution of the Israeli state. It might beproposed arms embargo to be strictly applied, presumed that the period of truce will bethis qualitative imbalance would be utilised by the Jews to establish an effectiveperpetuated. For another thing, the ban on administration not only in those parts ofthe introduction of fighting men into the their November State which are behind thearea was exclusively designed to prevent a military lines, but also in the Arab areaslarge influx of Jewish immigrants into which they have occupied, such as theIsrael - a long-standing aim of British policy. Central and Northern Galilee, the Foreign Though the British eventually acquiesced in Office cabled the British Ambassador tothe admission of Jewish refugees into Israel, Egypt, Sir Ronald Campbell.provided that they did not undergo militarytraining, they still believed that a truce would If the Arabs are to be in a position tobe in the Arab best interest, even from the bargain on equal terms, it is essential that theypoint of view of influencing American opinion should also establish some real authority in the... I am convinced that the continuance of the areas behind the lines occupied by their forces.truce will benefit the Arabs and that its This is particularly important in the area to thebreakdown would be disastrous from their south of the Egyptian front line. The greater partpoint of view, Bevin opined a few days before of this area was awarded to the Jews lastthe truce was about to expire: November and the Jewish settlements there are still holding out and presumably maintaining If they were responsible or could plausibly be contact with Tel-Aviv. We shall have greatrepresented as responsible for the renewal of difficulty in supporting the Arab claim to retainfighting, it would probably be impossible for this part of Palestine unless it can be shownH.M. Govt, as a member of the United Nations that it is in fact and not in name only underto supply them with ammunition or indeed to Arab administration during the truce ...give them any material assistance whatsoever. Atthe same time the jews would be able to raise When the Arabs failed to heed this advicelarge sums of money in the United States and to and resumed hostilities the British did theirpurchase armaments either there or from other utmost to stop the fighting, going so far assources of supply. On the other hand the to send a military force to Aqaba and to stateconditions now prevailing under the truce must their readiness to fend off an Israelibe a source of grave embarrassment to the Jewish incursion on Trans Jordanian territory. Whenleaders. With much of their restricted manpower Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula, theyunder arms and with serious interruption of their threatened to invoke their 1936 bilateralforeign trade their economic situation must be treaty with Egypt unless the Israeli forcesincreasingly precarious. were not immediately withdrawn.
  • 80. Portrait of a civilianLeaving JerusalemKhalil Sakakini was one of the more As fighting broke out in Palestinecolourful intellectuals of the Palestinian following the UN vote on partition and warArab community. Born in Jerusalem in 1878, reached Sakakinis doorstep, little was left ofhe served for many years as a high official this confident bravado. We bade farewell toin the Palestine Education Department, the previous year amidst the thunder ofleaving his mark on the countrys Arabic explosions, he recorded in his diary oneducation system. Like many of his 1 January 1948, and this is how we haveco-religionists (he was an Orthodox welcomed the new year: as if we are on theChristian) who had lived for a millennium as battlefield. Two months later Sakakinia distinctly inferior minority under Islamic seemed to be in the throes of despair. Bymajority, in the wake of the collapse of the God, I dont know how we will withstandOttoman Empire Sakakini embraced the ideal the Jewish attacks, he confided to his diaryof Arab Nationalism, namely, that all Arabs on 16 March. They are trained, organised,are members of the same nation, regardless united and armed with the most modernof their religion, as a means of social weapons, while we have nothing of this.mobility and political integration. In 1920, Has the time not come for us to understandhe resigned his post at the Education that unity triumphs over factionalism,Department because the British Government organisation over anarchy, and preparednessappointed a Jew, Sir Herbert Samuel, as its over neglect?first High Commissioner for Palestine. This stark prognosis was furtherFifteen years later he built a house in the reinforced in mid-March following aaffluent Jerusalem neighbourhood of meeting between a delegation fromQatamon and gave each room the name of Qatamon and members of the AHC in thean Arab capital: This is Sana, this is wake of Israeli retaliation against theDamascus, this is Cordova, this is Baghdad, neighbourhood:this is Cairo. As a leading educationalist, Sakakini We demanded weapons, recorded Sakakini,introduced into the Arab curriculum a host and they said that there werent any. We askedof ardent nationalist themes, at times for guards and they said: We dont havebordering on fascism. Power! Power! This is guards. What shall we do then? we asked.the new gospel that we must spread, he Buy arms and defend yourselves, theywrote. He who is stronger in body, mind answered. We dont have weapons, and shouldand spirit has a greater right to exist than he we buy ones, we dont have anyone who can usewho is weak. This principle, in Sakakinis them, we argued. After the blowing up of theopinion, condemned the Zionist enterprise Samiramis Hotel [on 5 January 1948], theto oblivion: Shahin House [9 March], and many other houses, who can guarantee that we wont be The Jews in their festivals lament and attacked yet again? It is your obligation - as theweep, since most of these festivals are in Arab Higher Committee - to provide us withmemorial of the disasters befalling them; arms and fighters. Where are the trainedwhile Muslim festivals are exhilarating events. volunteers [from the Arab states]? Where isA nation whose festivals are nothing but the money collected from all the Arab andweeping has no future. Islamic countries?
  • 81. Portrait of a civilian 81 Several days later, the Qatamon delegation are considering moving to anotherwas visited by Abd al-Qader al-Husseini and neighbourhood or another city in order to freehis chief lieutenants and Sakakini took the themselves of this permanent anxiety and dangeropportunity to lecture them on the universal ... This is why many of our neighbours hadlaws of war that had to be strictly observed: moved either to the Old City, or to Beit Jalla, orthe wounded must be well tended; soldiers to Amman, Cairo, or other places. Only amust be treated properly; the bodies of the handful of affluent people remained: ourdead must be returned to their families. In family, the Saruji brothers, Daoud Talil, andshort, he argued, we must abide by the order Yusuf Abdu.of Abu Bakr [the first Caliph after ProphetMuhammad] when he bade farewell to the On 7 April, having found a bullet on hisarmy on its way to Palestine: balcony, Sakakini tried to brave the situation. 1 assumed that we were safe since our house "Thou shall not kill a child, an old man, or a is at the heart of the quarter, withwoman; thou shalt not hum a tree or destroy a neighbouring houses surrounding it like ahouse; thou shalt not pursue he who flees and wall, he wrote, only to find ourselvesthou shalt not mutilate bodies, nor harm the one exposed to bullets. From now on we willwho is involved in the worship of God." exercise greater care: The believer is not hit twice by the same stone. As Husseini remained unimpressed by There was, however, little comfort inwhat apparently seemed to him as romantic store. On 9 April, Sakakini sadly recordednotions of chivalry, the exasperated Sakakini the death of al-Husseini in the battle forwrote in his diary: the Kastel: Had I been able to speak my mind, I would Today Abd al-Qader, Gods blessings be uponhave told them: Return your swords to their him, was buried. Palestine has never seen such ascabbards and dont fight anyone; there is huge funeral. If there is one person who deserxesenough room in the world for everyone. But who the epithet: The entire country went behind hiswould listen to these words or pay them any cascade, it is Abd al-Qader: you could walk theattention. So let me just reiterate Jesuss words: streets and see not a single shop open. NeverMy kingdom is not of this world. have all the shops closed down and the markets emptied as was the case today. Husseinis visit brought no respite toQatamon. Shortly after his departure, during On 13 April Sakakini felt that enoughthe evening of Saturday 20 March, an was enough:increasingly desperate Sakakini recorded inhis diary: The artillery shelling and machine-gun fire do not stop day or night, as if we were on an ever The whistle of the bullets and the thunder of heating battlefield ... Night falls and we cannotthe shells do not stop day or night. We heard close our eyes. We say that if we live to see thenothing like that during the two world wars. day, we will leave this neighbourhood, Qatamon,Every time we enter our homes we expect them to to another, or leave this country shelled and fall on our heads; every time wewalk the streets we keep close to the walls and A fortnight later Sakakini left Jerusalemthe sandbags for fear of a stray bullet... In this for Cairo with his two daughters. He diedsituation it is hardly surprising that the residents there on 13 August 1953.
  • 82. How the war endedFrom ceasefire to armisticeOn 13 January 1949, six days after the Haniqra, on the Israeli-Lebanese border, and fighting between their armies had ended, were successfully completed within threeEgyptian and Israeli representatives met for weeks. Conspicuously lacking the distrust and armistice negotiations on the Mediterranean acrimony that had characterised much of theisland of Rhodes, where the UN Mediator, Egyptian-Israeli talks, the Israeli-LebaneseCount Folke Bernadotte, had set up hisheadquarters in the previous summer. Sixweeks later, on 24 February, the twocountries signed an agreement whichformally ended hostilities between them andestablished an armistice line along theinternational border. Skilfully mediated byRalph Runche, who succeeded Bernadotte asActing Mediator following the lattersassassination, the agreement constituted abalanced compromise between themaximum positions of both sides. Egyptfreed its besieged brigade in Faluja, gainedcontrol over what would hitherto be knownas the Gaza Strip, and forced Israel to accepta demilitarised zone in the Auja area, on theinternational border. For its part Israelconsolidated its control over the northernNegev, including Beersheba, and waseffectively given a free hand to assert itssovereignty over the rest of the Negev, inline with the UN Partition Resolution,without violating its agreement with Egypt. The importance of the Egyptian-Israeliagreement cannot be overstated. Threemonths earlier, on 16 November, theSecurity Council had passed a resolutionurging the belligerents to negotiate armisticeagreements, either directly or through UNmediation. But the resolution had remaineda dead letter as Israel and Egypt had not yetsettled their scores, while the rest of the Arabstates would not make the first move. Nowthat the largest Arab country had made itstruce with the Jewish state, the rest of theArabs quickly followed suit. Negotiations between Israel and Lebanonbegan on 3 March at the scenic site of Rosh
  • 83. How the war ended 83dialogue hardly involved any contentious This, however, was easier said than done.issues. Both parties agreed that the armistice Starting on 5 April and lasting three fullline should run along the international border months, the Syrian-Israeli negotiationsand that upon conclusion of the agreement proved the most protracted and arduous ofIsrael would withdraw from whatever all armistice talks between Israel and its ArabLebanese territories it had occupied. That adversaries. The situation was furtherdespite this fundamental unanimity threeweeks were required for the agreement to be On 13 January 1949, Egyptian and Israeli representativesfinalised was due to Israels insistence to link met for negotiations on the Mediterranean island of Rhodes. Six weeks later they signed an agreement whichits withdrawal from Lebanon with Syrias ended hostilities between their countries and establishedevacuation of all Israeli territories occupied an armistice line along the international border (The Stateduring the war. of lsrael: The National Photo Collection)
  • 84. 84 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948complicated by a military coup in Damascus Three weeks later Zaim was overthrown byon 30 March, shortly after the government yet another military coup and summarilyhad announced its readiness to negotiate executed, with his initiative dying with him.with Israel. Anxious to shore up his fledgling Indeed, already before his demise, perhapsregime, the newly installed ruler, Colonel for fear of a domestic backlash, Zaim beganHusni Zaim, subordinated the armistice backtracking from his initiative. Shortly afternegotiations (and for that matter any other the signing of the armistice agreement, heaspect of his policy at home and abroad) to passed a message to the Israelis, through thethe overriding consideration of his own good offices of the UN mediation team, thatpolitical survival. This manifested itself, on he would like the matter to be postponedthe one hand, in the categorical rejection of for several weeks, [as] he did not wish toIsraels demand for Syrian withdrawal to the breach the wall of Arab border, and, on the other, in It was thus left to King Abdallah ofoccasional allusions to the possibility of Transjordan to demonstrate the mostdirect peace talks with the Israeli Prime receptiveness to the idea of a lastingMinister, David Ben-Gurion, accommodation with the Jewish state. As Though viewing these allusions as a early as October 1948 he had indicated hisbargaining chip aimed at buying Syria readiness for a deal with Israel, only to beinternational sympathy and improving its obstructed by the British, who would notposition in the armistice negotiations, Ben- have any agreement that did not involveGurion was sufficiently intrigued to suggest substantial Israeli concessions. 1 admit thethat senior Israeli decision-makers, including overwhelming necessity for Transjordan toForeign Minister Moshe Sharett, meet with make peace with the Jews, the British Actingthe Syrian leader. Meanwhile he instructed Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Hugh Dow,the Israeli delegation to the armistice talks commented in December 1948:to inform the Syrians in clear terms that firstof all - an armistice agreement on the basis If however, there is uncertainty on thisof the previous international line. And then question of the Negev, it appears to me to be- discussion of peace and alliance. We will be undesirable from our point of view to allow Kingprepared for maximum cooperation. Abdallah to push his negotiations with the Jews As the Syrians seemed to be taking heed to anything like a conclusive stage ... the Negevof the Israeli position, Ben-Gurion became is of little value to the Arabs while of strategiccautiously optimistic: value to us, and King Abdallah may well be content to let the Jews have it the moment he In a conversation with a Swiss writer Zaim sees that he has no prospect of getting Gaza.stated that he wanted peace with Israel, herecorded in his diary on 9 July. In my opinion Sir Hughs fears were premature. Israel atwe should cling to this statement. The fact that the time was not yet prepared to acquiesce inZaim is prepared for an armistice based on Abdallahs long-standing ambition to annexcomplete withdrawal to the international border whatever he could of the territory assignedproves that for one reason or another he wants to the Arab state by the Partition Resolution.good relations with us ... If the armistice This view was relayed to the king by Goldaagreement with Syria will be signed this week ... Meir during their meeting in November 1947it is desirable that [Elias] Sasson [a leading and it remained the official Israeli positionIsraeli negotiator with Arab leaders] will go to during the Palestine War. Our mainDamascus to check the ground. objective now is peace ... which is why I support talking to Abdallah, Prime Minister In the event, the armistice agreement of Ben-Gurion told his advisers on 18 December20 July 1949 turned out to be the farthest 1948, but we should clarify [to him] fromlimit of the Syrian-Israeli reconciliation. the start that... we will not be able to agree
  • 85. How the war ended 85Israeli and Transjordanian Jerusalemcommanders, Lieutenant Colonel MosheDayan and Major Abdallah al-Tel, overseean exchange of prisoners-of-war, February1949. (The State of lsrael: The NationalPhoto Collection)
  • 86. 86 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948lightly to the annexation of [the Arab] partsof Palestine to Transjordan. The 1949 Armistice lines Though the Israelis would eventuallyrelent in their opposition to Abdallahsoccupation of the territory that would cometo be known as the West Bank (of theHashemite Kingdom), they would not do sobefore reducing its scope in their favour. Through a successful combination ofpolitical and military means, including theimplicit threat to resume hostilities, Israelextended the armistice line eastward at thecentre of the country by gaining control overboth the Iraqi-held Sharon territory and theWadi Ara area, thus bringing the entireAfula-Hadcra road under its control. It alsoasserted its sovereignty over the southernNegev, by sending a military force to captureEilat, on the northern tip of the Gulf ofAqaba, and managed to have theinternational border in the Araba establishedas the armistice line. Only in Latrun andJerusalem did Israel fail to achieve itsobjectives of dislodging the Arab Legion andgaining free access to such sites as theWailing Wall, the ancient Jewish cemeteryon Mount Olive and the Hebrew Universityand Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.Still, there is little doubt as to who was thevictor of the Palestine War. Having violentlyrejected the Partition Resolution ofNovember 1947, the Arabs were now territories than that assigned to it by theeffectively forced to acquiesce in the reality General Assembly. For decades to come theyof a Jewish state stretching over larger would attempt to undo these setbacks.
  • 87. Conclusion and consequencesPerpetuating theArab-Israeli conflictThe Palestinians had neighbouring Arab small pieces, the Yishuv managed tostates which opened their borders and doors weather the storm by extreme effort: itsto the refugees, while the Jews had no 6,000 fatalities, a full one per cent of the totalalternative but to triumph or to die, Jewish population, were heavier in relative (ifMuhammad Nimr al-Khatib, a prominent not absolute) terms than those of any of itsPalestinian leader during the 1948 War, Arab adversaries, including the Palestinians.summed up his nations defeat and Neither did the Arab states throw theirdispersion. Writing from the Israeli full weight and whole-hearted commitmentperspective, journalists Jon and David behind the Palestine War. As the report of anKimche similarly pinned the source of Israels Iraqi parliamentary committee of inquiryvictory on the will to survive on the part of into the war put it in September 1949:the Palestinian Jews, and perhaps even more,the political and military expression of this It is a general rule that national independencewill in the person of Israels first Prime cannot be obtained by reliance on great-powerMinister, David Ben-Gurion, and the military sympathy or pity. World sympathy is exclusivelyinstruments of Palestinian Jewry: the determined by power criteria and cost-benefitHagana, its clandestine national defence considerations, and the international communityorganisation, and the Palmach, the will acquiesce only in a fait accompli. Sevenhand-picked striking force which together Arab states - in control of vast strategicprovided the foundation and framework territories and abundant oil and other naturalof the future Israeli Defence Forces. resources, and enjoying the sympathy of an This prognosis is well taken. If anything, omnipotent Muslim World - lost Palestinethe Palestine War demonstrates that there is merely because of their reliance on romanticfar more to armed conflict than the size of notions of legality and justice. Culpability forthe armies engaged in combat operations or the loss of Palestine does indeed lie with some ofthe nature of their equipment. That war was the Arab leaders who lacked the will and thenot won by the militarily stronger capacity for self-sacrifice.combatant: had this been the case, the farbetter armed and organised Arab armieswould have readily defeated the poorly The birth of the Palestinianequipped and widely dispersed Israeli forces refugee problembefore they had the chance to equipthemselves during the first truce. Rather it Even before the outbreak of hostilities, manywas a clash of national wills in which the Palestinian Arabs had already fled their homes.more resilient society prevailed. In 1948, Still larger numbers left before war reachedboth the Jewish and the Arab communities in their doorstep. By April 1948, a month beforePalestine were thrown into a whirlpool of Israels declaration of independence, and at ahardship, dislocation and all-out war - time when the Arabs appeared to be winningconditions that no society can survive the war, some 100,000 Palestinians, mostlywithout the absolute commitment of its most from the main urban centres of Jaffa, Haifavital elites. Yet while the atomised Palestinian and Jerusalem and from villages in the coastalArab community, lacking a cohesive plain, had gone. Within another month thosecorporate identity, fragmented into numbers had nearly doubled; and by early
  • 88. 88 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948June, according to an internal Hagana report, Jaffa, some of us were young adults - and hesome 390,000 Palestinians had left. By the said, Why dont you stay and fight? I havetime the fighting was over in early 1949, the never forgotten his face and I have never had onenumber of refugees had risen to between good answer for him.550,000 and 600,000. Why did such vast numbers of Another former resident of Jaffa was thePalestinians take to the road? There were the renowned Palestinian intellectual Hishamobvious reasons commonly associated with Sharabi, who in December 1947 left for thewar: fear, disorientation, economic privation. United States. Three decades later he askedBut to these must be added the local himself: How could we leave our countryPalestinians disillusionment with their own when a war was raging and the Jews wereleadership, the role taken by that leadership gearing themselves to devour Palestine?in forcing widespread evacuations and, His answer:perhaps above all, a lack of communalcohesion or of a willingness, especially at the There were others to fight on my behalf; thosehighest levels, to subordinate personal who had fought in the 1936 remit and whointerest to the general good. would do the fighting in the future. They were On this last point, a number of Palestinians peasants ... [whose] natural place was here, onhave themselves spoken eloquently. There wasa Belgian ship, recalls the academic Ibrahim The foremost tragedy of the Palestine War was theAbu Lughod, who fled Jaffa in 1948: collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society, with nearly half of its members becoming refugees elsewhere and one of the sailors, a young man, looked in Palestine or in neighbouring Arab states. (The State ofat us - and the ship was full of people from Israel: The National Photo Collection)
  • 89. Conclusion and consequences 89this land. As for us - the educated ones - we be able to hold on much longer ... Everyonewere on a different plane. We were struggling on is leaving. Everyone who has a check orthe intellectual front. some money - off he goes to Egypt, to Lebanon, to Damascus. In fact, the Palestinian peasants proved no The desertion of the elites had a dominomore attached to the land than the educated effect on the middle classes and theclasses. Rather than stay behind and fight, peasantry. But huge numbers of Palestiniansthey followed in the footsteps of their urban were also driven out of their homes by theirbrothers and took to the road from the first own leaders and/or by Arab military forces,moments of the hostilities. Still, the lions whether out of military considerations or,share of culpability for the Palestinian more actively, to prevent them fromcollapse and dispersion undoubtedly lies becoming citizens of the nascent Jewishwith the educated ones, whose lack of State. In the largest and best-known examplenational sentiment, so starkly portrayed by of such a forced exodus, tens of thousands ofSharabi and Abu Lughod, set in train the Arabs were ordered or bullied into leavingentire Palestinian exodus. The moment its the city of Haifa against their wishes on theleading members chose to place their own instructions of the AHC, despite sustainedsafety ahead of all other considerations, the Jewish efforts to convince them to stay. Onlyexodus became a foregone conclusion. days earlier, thousands of Arabs in Tiberias The British High Commissioner for had been similarly forced out by their ownPalestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, leaders. In Jaffa, the largest Arab communitysummarised what was happening with of Mandatory Palestine, the municipalityquintessential British understatement: organised the transfer of thousands of residents by land and sea, while in the town The collapsing Arab morale in Palestine is in of Beisan in the Jordan valley, the women and children were ordered out as the Arabsome measure due to the increasing tendency of Legion dug in. And then there were the tensthose who should be leading them to leave the of thousands of rural villagers who werecountry ... For instance in Jaffa the Mayor went likewise forced out of their homes by orderon four days leave 12 days ago and has not of the AHC, local Arab militias or the armiesreturned, and half the National Committee has of the Arab states.left. In Haifa the Arab members of themunicipality left some time ago; the two leaders None of this is to deny that Israeli forcesof the Arab Liberation Army left actually during did on occasion expel Palestinians. But thisthe recent battle. Now the Chief Arab Magistrate accounted for only a small fraction of thehas left. In all parts of the country the effendi total exodus, occurred not within theclass has been evacuating in large numbers over framework of a premeditated plan but in thea considerable period and the tempo is increasing. heat of battle, and was dictated predominantly by ad hoc military Hussein Khalidi, Secretary of the Arab considerations (notably the need to denyHigher Committee, was more forthright. In strategic sites to the enemy if there were no1936 there were 60,000 [British] troops and available Jewish forces to hold them). It willfthe Arabs] did not fear, he complained to be recalled that the Haganas military planthe Mufti on 2 January 1948. Now we deal for rebuffing an anticipated pan-Arabwith 30,000 Jews and [the Arabs] are invasion (Plan D) was predicated, in thetrembling in fear. Ten days later, he was explicit instructions of Israel Galili, theeven more scathing. Forty days after the Haganas chief-of-staff on thedeclaration of a jihad, and I am shattered, acknowledgement of the full rights, needs,he complained to a fellow Palestinian. and freedom of the Arabs in the HebrewEveryone has left me. Six [AHC members] state without any discrimination, and aare in Cairo, two are in Damascus - I wont desire for co-existence on the basis of mutual
  • 90. 90 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948 freedom and dignity. Indeed, even the villages as the men preferred to join their largest of the Israeli expulsions, during the families rather than stay behind and fight. battle for Lydda in July 1948, emanated from In recognition of its mistake, in early a string of unexpected developments on the March 1948, the AHC issued a circular- ground and was in no way foreseen in castigating the flight out of the country as a military plans for the capture of the town or blemish on both the jihad movement and reflected in the initial phase of its the reputation of the Palestinians, and occupation. It was only when the occupying stating that in places of great danger, forces encountered stiffer resistance than women, children, and the.elderly should be expected that they decided to encourage moved to safer areas within Palestine. Butthe populations departure to Arab-controlled only a week later, the AHC itself wasareas, a few miles to the east, so as not to evidently allowing those same categories ofleave a hostile armed base at the rear of the persons to leave Jerusalem for Lebanon andIsraeli advance and to clog the main roads in also ordering the removal of women andorder to forestall a possible counter-attack by children from Haifa. By late April, nothingthe Arab Legion. remained of the AHCs stillborn instruction It is true that neither the AHC nor the as Transjordan threw its doors open to theArab states envisaged a Palestinian dispersion mass arrival of Palestinian women andof the extent that occurred, and that both children and the Arab Legion was given asought to contain it once it began free hand to carry out population transfers atsnowballing. But it is no less true that they its discretion.acted in a way that condemned hundreds ofthousands of Palestinians to exile. As early asSeptember 1947, more than two months An Arab betrayal?before the passing of the UN PartitionResolution, an Arab League summit in the Success has many parents while failure is anLebanese town of Sofar urged the Arab states orphan. The magnitude of the Arab defeatto open their doors to Palestinian children, and the scale of the Palestinian dispersionwomen, and the elderly and to fend for triggered immediate and bitter recriminationsthem, should the developments in Palestine between the Palestinians and their supposedso require. saviours. From the moment of their arrival in This recommendation was endorsed the the neighbouring Arab states which openedfollowing month by a gathering of Haifas their borders and doors, tension between theArab leadership and reiterated by the Mufti refugees and the host societies ran high. Thein person in January 1948. For his part King former considered the states derelict forAbdallah reportedly promised that if any having issued wild promises of militaryPalestine Arabs should become refugees as a support on which they never made good.result of the Husseini factions activities, the The latter regarded the Palestinians as agates of Transjordan would always be open cowardly lot who had shamefully desertedto them. their homeland while expecting others to The logic behind this policy was fight for them.apparently that the absence of the women This mutual animosity was also manifestand children from Palestine would free the within Palestine itself, where the pan-Arabmen for fighting, as the Secretary-General of volunteer force that entered the country inthe Arab League, Abd al-Rahman Azzam put early 1948 found itself at loggerheads withit. This thinking, nevertheless, proved to be the community it was supposed to defend.disastrously misconceived. Far from boosting Denunciations and violent clashes weremorale and freeing the men for fighting, the common, with the local population oftenmass departure of women and children led refusing to provide the ALA with the basicto the total depopulation of towns and necessities for daily upkeep and military
  • 91. Conclusion and consequences 91operations, and army personnel abusing very least, of young men of military age,their Palestinian hosts, of whom they were many of whom had arrived under the pretextopenly contemptuous. When an Iraqi officer of volunteering for the ALA. Whenin Jerusalem was asked to explain his occasional restrictions in Syria and Lebanonpersistent refusal to greet the local populace, on the entry of males between the ages of 16he angrily retorted that one doesnt greet and 50 drove many Palestinians to Egypt,these dodging dogs, whose cowardice causes they were often received with disdain. Whypoor Iraqis to die. should we go to Palestine to fight while In a report on the situation in Palestine Palestine Arab fighters are deserting the causewritten in late March 1948, Ismail Safwat by flight to Egypt, was the local reaction incharged the Palestinian Arabs of remaining Alexandria upon the arrival of several refugeeembroiled in their internal squabbles as if ships from Haifa in late April 1948.there was no existential threat to their The Palestinians did not hesitate to reply incorporate identity. Special bitterness was kind. In a letter to the Syrian representative atreserved for the Mufti and his local the UN, Jamal al-Husseini argued that thesupporters, whose self-serving behaviour was regular [Arab] armies did not enable thelargely culpable for the polarisation and inhabitants of the country to defendfragmentation of Palestinian society. Recent themselves, but merely facilitated their escapereports prove that the Palestinians are from Palestine. The prominent Palestinianarming themselves not for the war against leader Emile Ghoury was even morethe Jews but rather to subdue their Arab outspoken. In an interview with the Londonadversaries or to protect themselves from Telegraph in August 1948 he blamed the Arabperceived Arab enemies, Safwat wrote, i states for the creation of the refugee problem;have done everything within my power to as did the organisers of protest demonstrationsovercome this regrettable state of affairs, to that took place in many West Bank towns onno avail. The situation is deteriorating by the the first anniversary of Israels and its persistence is certain to entail During a fact -finding mission to Gaza in Junedire consequences. 1949, Sir John Troutbeck, head of the British Similar indictments of the Palestinians Middle- East office in Cairo and no friend towere voiced throughout the Arab world. Israel or the Jews, was surprised to discoverFright has struck the Palestinian Arabs and that, while the refugees:they fled their country, commented RadioBaghdad on the eve of the pan-Arab invasion express no bitterness against the Jews (or forof Israel. These are hard words indeed, yet that matter against the Americans or ourselves)they are true. And the Lebanese Minister of they speak with the utmost bitterness of thethe Interior, Camille Chamoun, did not Egyptians and other Arab states. We know whomince his words either. The people of our enemies are, they will say, and they arePalestine, in their previous resistance to referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare,imperialists and Zionists, proved they were persuaded them unnecessarily to leave theirworthy of independence, he argued. But at homes ...I even heard it said that many of thethis decisive stage of the fighting they have refugees would give a welcome to the Israelis ifnot remained so dignified in their stand; they were to come in and take the district over.they lack organisation and omitted to armthemselves as well as their enemy did. Many The prevailing conviction among theof them did not assist their brothers from refugees that they had been the victims ofnearby Arab countries who hastened to their fellow Arabs rather than of Israelihelp them. aggression was grounded not only in their In Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan there personal experience but in the larger facts ofwere repeated calls during the war for the inter-Arab politics. Indeed, had the Jewishreturn of the refugees to Palestine or, at the State lost the war, its territory would not
  • 92. 92 Essential Histories • The Arab-Israeli Conflict - The Palestine War 1948have been handed over to the Palestinians Commissioner Cunningham informedbut rather divided among the invading Colonial Secretary Creech Jones that theforces, for the simple reason that none of the most likely arrangement seems to be EasternArab regimes viewed the Palestinians as a Galilee to Syria, Samaria and Hebron todistinct nation. As the American academic Abdallah, and the South to Egypt, and itPhilip Hitti put the Arab view to a joint might well end in annexation of thisAnglo-American commission of inquiry in pattern, the centre remains uncertain. 1946: There is no such thing as Palestine in Perhaps the best proof of Britishhistory, absolutely not. prescience regarding this matter was that This fact was keenly recognised by the neither Egypt nor Jordan ever allowedBritish authorities as they were departing Palestinian self-determination in the parts offrom Palestine. In mid-December 1947, for Palestine they conquered during the 1948example, they estimated that as events are War: respectively, Gaza and the West the moment it does not appear that Arab As the Egyptian representative to thePalestine will be an entity, but rather that armistice talks told a British journalist: Wethe Arab countries will each claim a portion dont care if all the refugees will die. Therein return for their assistance, unless King are enough Arabs around. More than half aAbdallah takes rapid and firm action as century later, many of these refugees stillsoon as the British withdrawal is completed. languish in squalid camps waiting for theirA couple of months later, High problem to be solved.
  • 93. Further readingAlami, Musa, The Lessons of Palestine, Khalidi, Walid, ed., From Haven to Conquest, Middle East Journal, October 1949. Beirut, 1971.Collins, Larry, and Lapierre, Dominique, O — Palestine Reborn, London, 1992. Jerusalem, New York, 1972. Kimche, Jon and David, Both Sides ofHerzog, Chaim, Tlie Arab-Israeli Wars: War and the Hill: The Arab-Jewish War and the Peace in the Middle East, New York, 1982. Founding of the State of Israel, London,Karsh, Efraim, Fabricating Israeli History: The 1969. New Historians, London, 2000. Kurzman, Dan, Genesis 1948: the FirstKhalaf, Issa, Politics in Palestine: Arab Arab-Israeli War, New York, 1970. Factionalism and Social Disintegration Laqueur, Walter, A History of Zionism, New 1939-1948, Albany, 1991. York, 1972.Khalidi, Rashid, Palestinian Identity: The Lorch, Netanel, The Edge of the Sword: Israels Construction of Modern National War of Independence 1947-1949, Jerusalem, Consciousness, New York, 1997. 1968.
  • 94. IndexFigures in bold refer to illustrations Gaza Strip 82 Ghazi, King of Iraq 17Abdallah Ibn Hussein, King of Jordan 8, 15, 16, 17, 26, Ghoury, FLmile 91 28, 51, 60, 84, 86, 90 Givati Brigade 31, 50, 61Aden, slaughter of Jews in 30 Glubb, Sir John Bagot 61al-Jihad al-Muqadas 27 Graves, Richard 30al-Nakba 8Alami, Musa 8 Hagana (Defence) 20, 24, 25, 27, 30, 31, 42, 44, 50Alexandroni Brigade 31, 50, 62, 69 7th Brigade 62, 69Allon, Yigal 64, 68 HaifaArab Higher Committee (AHC) 8, 17, 21, 26, 30, 34, incident at (December 1947) 32-3 50, 80, 89, 90 battle for and evacuation of (April 1948) 23, 43,Arab League 26, 30-1 45-7, 50, 89Arab Legion 27, 28, 56, 61, 62, 64, 69-71 Harel Brigade 61, 62Arab Liberation Army (ALA) 26, 28, 31, 39, 61, 65, 90 Hashemi, General Tana al- 26Arabs Hebron, slaughter of Jews at (1929) 16 British support for 76-9 Herzl, Theodore 14 nationalism 80 Him 25 opposition to partition plan 30-1 Hish 25 Palestinian 25-7 brigades 31 states 27-8 Histadrut workers organisation 25Austin, Warren 42 Hitti, Philip 92Azzam, Abd al-Rahman 20, 23, 50, 90 Huda, Tawfiq Abu al- 75 Hussein, Faisal Ibn (later King Faisal I of Syria) 14,Balfour, Arthur James 13 16Balfour Declaration (1917) 14, 16 Husseini, Abd al-Qader al- 26, 27, 37, 44, 50, 81Beersheba, Jewish capture of (November 1948) 47, 68 Husseini, Hajj Amin al- 16, 17, 20, 21, 26, 29Ben-Gurion, David 25, 31, 34, 37, 42, 50, 51, 51, 52, Husseini, Jamal al- 8, 91 64, 65, 84Bernadotte, Count Koike 65, 74-5, 76, 82 Inverchapel, Lord 76Bevin, Ernest 19, 72, 75, 76, 76-7, 79 Iraq, armed forces 27, 60, 65Britain Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organisation) armed forces in Palestine 28 20, 25, 32, 56 Middle Last policy 72-9 Israel presence in Palestine 22-3 armistice agreements with Arab states 82-6Bunche, Ralph 82 proclamation of state of (14 May 1948) 52Burma Road 62 Israel Defence Forces (IDF) 22-3, 56, 60, 64Burrows, Bernard 76 JaffaCampbell, Sir Ronald 79 Arab evacuation of (April 1948) 87, 88, 89Carmel, Moshe 68 Jewish capture of (May 1948) 50Chamoun, Camille 91 Javits, Jacob 77Churchill, Winston 18 Jenin 60Creech Jones, Arthur 73, 92 JerusalemCunningham, General Sir Alan 57, 73-4, 89, 92 Arab attacks on Jews (December 1947) 30 Arab siege of 41Dayan, Colonel Moshe 85 battle for (May-June 1948) 53, 60-2Degania 52, 60 car bombs 36Deir Yasin, Jewish capture of (April 1948) 44 internationalisation of 7, 20, 36Dow, Sir Hugh 84 status after armistice (1949) 86 vulnerability of 34-6, 37Egypt Jewish Agency 25, 44 armed forces 27, 56-7, 60 Jewish Settlement Police 69 armistice agreement with Israel 82 JewsEtzion Bloc desire for Palestinian homeland 13-14, 20 battle (January 1948) 37-9 immigration to Palestine 16, 17, 19-20, 21, 79 Arab attack on (May 1948) 48-9, 51-2 position in Palestine 23-5Etzioni Brigade 31 Kastel, captured by Hagana (April 1948) 38, 44Faluja Pocket 68, 82 Kfar-Darom 56First Zionist Conference (1897) 14 Khalidi, Hussein 89Forrestal, James 73 Khatib, Muhammad Nimr al- 87Futuwa 26 Kimche, Jon and David 87 Kirkbride, Sir Alec 60Galilee 68Galili, Israel 31, 42, 89 Latrun 61, 62, 64, 69-71, 86
  • 95. Index 95Lebanon (18 July 1948) second truce 64 armed forces 27-8, 60 (October 1948) IDF offensive in Negev 65, 68 armistice agreement with Israel 82-3 (November 1948) fDF capture of Beersheba 47, 68Lehi see Stern Gang (December 1948) IDF invasion of Sinai 68, 79Levanoni Brigade 31 armistice agreements (February-July 1949) 82-6Levy, Shabtai 46, 47 casualties 40Lie, Tiygve 72, 73 phases 8Lughod, Ibrahim Abu 88, 89 reasons for Israeli victory 87Lydda 30, 53, 64, 90 rival forces 22-8 Palmach 25, 31, 64MacDonald, Ramsay 16 Peel Commission (1937) 17Majdal 56, 63Malkiya 60 Qatamon 80, 81Marshall, George 77 Qawuqji, Fawzi al- 17, 26, 44, 45Mass, Danny 38Meir, Golda 45 Rabin, Yitzhak 61 meeting with King Abdallah 51-2, 84 Rafah 68Mishmar-Haemek 44-5 Ramallah 64Mishmar-Hayarden 60, 64 Ramat-Rahel 62Muslim Brothers 56, 62, 68 Ramie 44, 53, 64 Ras el-Ein 64Najada 26National Guard 27 Sadeh, Yitzhak 45NazaTCth 64 Safed, Jewish capture of (May 1948) 50Negev 34, 37 Safwat, General Ismail 26, 39-40, 91 Egyptian army in (May 1948) 56-7, 60, 64 Sakakini, Khalil 80-1 IDF offensive in (October 1948) 65, 68 Salame, Hasan 26, 27, 30, 44, 50 Israeli occupation of 86 Salomon, Yaacov 47Nirim 56 Samuel, Sir Herbert 16, 80 Saud, Abd al Aziz Ibn, King of Saudi Arabia 17, 20Operation Danny (July 1948) 64, 66 Sharabi, Hisham 88-9Operation Dekel Ouly 1948) 64 Sharett, Moshe 84Operation Hiram (October 1948) 68 Sharon, Ariel 69-71Operation Horev (December 1948) 65, 67, 68 Shishakly, Adib al- 39Operation Maccabee (May 1948) 61 Sinai, IDF invasion of (December 1948) 68, 79Operation Nachshon (April 1948) 42, 44 Stern Gang (Lehi) 20, 25, 32, 56Operation Uvda 78 Stockwell, Major-General Hugh 41, 45-6, 46-7Operation Yoav (October 1948) 61, 68 Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) 16, 17 SyriaPalestine armed forces 28, 60 anti-Jewish riots 16, 17 armistice agreement with Israel 83-4 Arab attacks on Jews (December 1947) 29-30, 34, 37 Arab community 25-7 Taylor, A.J. P. 13 Arab uprising (1936) 17, 18-19, 26 Tel, Major Abdallah al- 85 British Mandate 7, 8, 16, 22-3, 57 Tel-Aviv, Arab attack on Hatikva quarter (December British policy 72-9 1947) 30 British White Paper on (1939) 17-19 Tiberias, Jewish capture of (April 1948) 45 chronology 9-12 Tirat-Zvi 39 Jewish attacks on Arabs (December 1947) 31-3 Transjordan 16, 17 Jewish desire for homeland 13-14, 20 Arab Legion 27, 28, 56, 61, 62, 64, 69-71 Jewish immigration 16, 17, 19-20, 21, 79 armistice agreement with Israel 84, 86 Jewish position 23-5 Tripolitania, slaughter of Jews in 30 Jewish vulnerabilities 34-7 Troutbeck, Sir John 73,91 Peel Commission and 17 Truman, President Harry S. 19, 20, 42, 73, 77 refrigees 87-92 Tzafa, Muhammad 39 UN Partition Resolution (November 1947) 7, 8, 19, 73Palestine Education Department 80 United NationsPalestine War (1948) arms embargo on Middle East 76-7, 79 (January 1948) ALA attack on Yechiam 39 Partition Resolution (November 1947) 7, 8, 19, 73 (January 1948) Etzion Bloc battle 37-9 UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) 20, 21 (February 1948) ALA attack on Tirat-Zvi 39 USA, Middle East policy 41-2, 72-3, 76, 77 (March 1948) ALA attack on Jewish tiansportation 40,55 Vaad Leumi 25 (March 1948) Hagana offensive strategy 42, 45 (April 1948) ALA attack on Mishmar-Haemek 44-5 Weizmann, Dr Chaim 14, 77 (April 1948) Haifa, battle for and evacuation of 23, West Bank 86 43, 45-7, 50, 89 (April 1948) Jewish capture of Deir Yasin 44 Yad-Moerdechai 56-7, 58 (May 1948) Arab invasion of Israel 52-60, 54 Yadin, Yigael 31, 68 (May 1948) Egyptian army in Negev 56-7, 60, 64 Yechiam 39 (May 1948) Etzion Bloc, Arab attack on 48-9, 51-2 Yishuv 14, 22, 23, 24, 25, 34 (May 1948) Jewish capture of Jaffa 50 (May 1948) Jewish capture of Safed 50 Zaim, Colonel Husni 84 (May/June 1948) Israeli assault on Latrun 62, 69-71 Zemakh 60 (May-June 1948) Jerusalem, battle for 53, 60-2 Zionism 13, 14 (11 June 1948) first truce 59, 60, 64 Arab denunciation of (1946) 20
  • 96. The Palestine War has been by far the most important military encounter in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.This book examines the origins of the war and its progression through two distinct stages: the guerrilla warfare between the Arab and Jewish communities of Mandatory Palestine, and the conventional inter-state war between the State of Israel and the invading Arab armies. In doing so it assesses the participants, their war aims, strategies and combat performance. Finally, it examines the reasons for Israels success in the face of seemingly impossible odds and for the failure of the Arab nations to turn their military and numerical superiority into victory on the ground.Front and back cover image: Detail of Supply convoy arriving in Jerusalem,April 1948. (Topham Picturepoint)Essential HistoriesA multi-volume history of war seen from political,strategic, tactical, cultural and individual perspectivesRead them and gain a deeper under; understanding of warand a stronger basis for thinking about peaceProfessor Robert ONeill, Series