Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

The 1948 Arab Israeli War

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Israeli tank at 1948 war. .Credit: Shay Shalom’s FB page.

The West Bank, an area west of the Jordan River in the former British-mandated territory of Palestine, has a complex and multi-layered history that is deeply intertwined with the broader Israeli-Arab conflict.

The 1948 Arab Israeli War, also known as the Israeli War of Independence, was a pivotal moment in the long and complex history of the Middle East. This war, which raged from May 15 to December 10, 1948, shaped not only the borders of Israel but also the trajectory of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which continues to reverberate today.

Historical Background

The roots of the war can be traced back to the late 19th century, when the Zionist movement, seeking to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, began gaining momentum. This movement faced opposition from the Arab population of Palestine, who feared losing their land and identity. The British Mandate of Palestine, established after World War I, further complicated the situation, as it attempted to balance the aspirations of both the Jewish and Arab populations.

Armed Forces

Israeli soldiers at 1948 war. Credit: ‘יום בהיסטוריה’ FB page.

The war pitted the newly formed Israeli forces against the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. The Israeli forces, though outnumbered and outgunned, were fueled by exceptional motivation and a strong sense of purpose. They were also led by talented commanders like David Ben-Gurion and Yigal Allon.

Political Objectives

The primary objective of the Arab states was to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. They hoped to maintain Arab control over the entire region and to prevent the displacement of Palestinians. For the Israelis, the war was a fight for survival and the realization of their long-cherished dream of a Jewish homeland.

Course of the War

The war can be divided into three main phases. The first phase, lasting from May 15 to June 11, 1948, saw the Arab armies advance into Palestine, capturing several strategic locations. However, the Israelis, through a combination of tactical brilliance and fierce resistance, managed to halt the Arab advance.

The second phase, from June 11 to July 18, 1948, was marked by two UN-brokered truces. During this period, the Israelis used the time to reorganize their forces and acquire additional weapons.

The third and final phase, from July 18 to December 10, 1948, saw the Israelis launch a series of offensives that pushed the Arab armies back. By the end of the war, Israel had control over a larger territory than it had been allocated by the UN Partition Plan, while the Arab states were left defeated and divided.

Aftermath

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War left a lasting legacy on the region. It resulted in the displacement of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians, creating the Palestinian refugee crisis that continues to this day. It also established the borders of the State of Israel, which became a source of further conflict with its Arab neighbors.

Importance of the War

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War was a watershed moment in the Middle East. It marked the birth of the State of Israel and the start of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which continues to shape the region’s politics and security dynamics. The war also had a profound impact on the Palestinian people, who were displaced from their homes and continue to struggle for their own statehood.

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