What Happened During Israel’s 1948 War?
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What Happened During Israel’s 1948 War?

– In Israel 1948 was an
eventful year to say the least. A year earlier a historic vote in the UN recommended a partition of the
British Mandate of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. And in the wake of the Holocaust, the international community
voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Jewish
right to self determination. By 1948, Israel’s early
leaders were ready to create a Jewish state along side
their Arab neighbors. But not everyone in the
international community was so supportive. Surrounding Arab nations openly threatened to wipe out Israel in its infancy. The war that ensued was
complex to say the least. The 1948 Arab-Israeli
War or, fair warning, this war has six different
names, so bear with me. It was also know as the
1949 War of Independence or (speaks in foreign language),
the War of Sovereignty, in English as Ben-Gurion called it. Or the War of Liberation
by the Israeli Army. And the Nakba or
Catastrophe by many Arabs. These names reflect the
different realities of the war and its consequences on different people. To some, 1948 was a year of miracles, as key world powers like
the soviets and Americans supported the establishment
of a Jewish state. Which to others, 1948 was
an unequivocal catastrophe, as the war brought with
it loss of life and land. So what exactly happened in the war and why does it matter today? Lets get into it. (upbeat electronic music) The first phase of the war began in 1947 after the U.N. passed the
resolution to partition the land. Jews living in the British
Mandate were overjoyed, but there was little time to celebrate. Almost immediately the
Arab Higher Committee, then the political arm of local
Arabs living in the Mandate started clashes with the Jews. Soon enough it was
practically a civil war, violent Arab riots broke out. And although the British were legally in control of the region, they’d already decided to
withdraw and, for the most part, adopted a pretty hands off
approach to the growing conflict. However they did maintain strict quotas on Jewish emigration from
Europe, as well as on supplies, making manpower and arm
shortages pressing issues. Meanwhile, the Haganah, a Jewish pre-state paramilitary force, was bracing for the
possibility of an all out war. The Arabs had rejected the partition plan and didn’t believe outside nations should determine their fate. In response, Arab terrorism in
the Mandate was on the rise. And there was another fear. The Arab population in the
region was twice that of the Jews and Arab media played
up its military prowess. This propaganda machine spoke of total war against the Jews there and stoked more fear in the Jewish people. After several failed attempts
to quell Arab aggression, which included a devastating
siege of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion and his inner circle, enacted something called
(speaks in foreign language) or Plan Dalet. Dalet being the fourth letter
in the Hebrew alphabet. So basically plan D. Plan Dalet remains
controversial to this day, and some researchers suggest Plan Dalet was an intentional population transfer of the Arabs living there. Other those disagree. For example, historian, Anita
Shapira, points out that, “While it did order
commanders to destroy villages “and expel the inhabitants
if they resisted, “it also instructed commanders
to leave them where they were “if they did not resist, “while ensuring Jewish
control of the village.” Ultimately the Haganah seized control of certain major cities, including Haifa, Jaffa,
Safed and Tiberias, as well as many Arab villages. In total, some 300,000 local Arabs fled or were expelled before the
official start of the war. Many wealthier Arabs left voluntarily, and many thought their
evacuation was only temporary, with plans to return once
the Jews were defeated. On May 14th, 1948, the moment
everyone had been bracing for finally arrived. Just before the British
Mandate was set to expire, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s
first prime minister, declared Israeli statehood. Mind you, this wasn’t an
easy decision to come by. In fact, Ben-Gurion and small
circle of nine other leaders made the call with a
vote, the motion passed by the slimmest of
margins, only six to four. But Israel was born. Again there was little time to celebrate and no-one knew that
better than Ben-Gurion. On that historic day he wrote in his diary that he was a, “mourner
among the celebrants”. Ben-Gurion correctly
anticipated the high cost of declaring Israeli statehood. On May 15th, the very next
day, as the British Mandate was officially terminated,
five surrounding Arab army’s, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan, invaded the day old nation. Now, a few things helped Israel withstand the initial wave of the attacks. For starters, just a few days before, intelligence gathered by the
French Consolute in Jerusalem, informed the Haganah about specifics of the Arab army’s plans. Also, with the British out of the picture, Jew immigration picked up,
which meant more fighters. But these were hardly soldiers, they were ill-equipped European refugees, mostly Holocaust survivors, with little to no military training. Most of them didn’t even
speak the same language. Imagine trying to coordinate an army when you can’t even talk to teach other. But the Israelis were also able to ship in more arms and ammunition. This helped the Haganah
turn itself into a real army and even incorporate
the Irgun and the Lehi, two rival Jewish militias. United under one banner,
they formed the modern day Israel Defense Forces or the IDF. Still Israel’s first month in existence was marked my tragedy. Jewish immigrants who’d been
freed from concentration camps, only a few years earlier, went
straight to the battlefield and thousands died in the fighting. Ultimately, it would be the
bloodiest of Israels wars. Egypt invaded from the
south and eventually reached the southern Israeli cities
of Ashdod and Beersheba, and headed further north from there. Syria penetrated northern
Israel, will Jordan, the strongest of the invading Arab army’s, and trained by the
British, capture Jerusalem. The Israelis were very much outgunned, especially at the start of the war. On May 19th, the Egyptians
attacked Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz in southern Israel. There, a force of about
100 Israeli kibbutzniks and two paramilitary squads,
armed with only rifles, one machine gun and one anti-tank weapon, somehow though of 2,500 Egyptians, equipped with armor, artillery
and air units, for five days. The Egyptians incurred heavy
loses and Israeli losses were comparatively light. Still, in large part this first month was pretty rough for Israelis, counterattacks in Jenin,
Ashdod and Latrun failed. The IDF also failed to defend
inhabitants of Jewish quarter in the old city of Jerusalem,
which was still under siege. In that first month 1,600
Jewish lives were lost. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but when Israel was first established, only 650,000 Jews lived there. A key turning point for the Israelis was a UN brokered truce, which came into effect on June 11th. The truce was meant to
be in place for 28 days and included and arms in embargo. Basically the idea was,
neither side suppose benefit from the truce, but of course,
that’s not what happened. Both sides used this time to
improve strategic positions and important more weapons. Israel bypassed the embargo and brought in a massive shipment of
arms from Czechoslovakia. With out that shipment, Yitzak Rabin, then an IDF Commander, later said it was, very doubtful whether
we have would have been able to conduct the war. Israel increased its
arm supply to more than 25,000 rifles, 5,000 machine
guns and 50 million bullets. Plus, with more Jewish
immigrants arriving, they were able to almost
double their manpower. Coming out the truce, Israel
launch a major offensive called Operation Danny, named
after an officer, Daniel or Danny Mass, who was
killed earlier in 1948. The first phase of
Operation Danny called for Israeli forces to capture
the cities of Lod and Ramla. These two Arab cities were strong holds for Arab legion forces
and were both located on the route connecting
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Arab snipers and militiamen could pick off Jewish transport vehicles
which forced traffic between the two cities to
around about southern bypass. The operation to take
control of these areas was a massive success. The Israelis seized the Lod airport and a strategic railway station in Ramla, as well as dozens of surrounding villages. However, its important to note
that during Operation Danny, some 50,000 Arab
residents of Lod and Ramla were expelled from their homes. By the time both towns
were in Israeli hands, only a few hundred of the
original inhabitants remained. This was the lone case of
organized removal of entire cites, according to Anita Shapira. In fact, Ben-Gurion ensured that the Arab residents of
Nazareth would not be expelled because they had surrendered. The second phase, however,
which was an attempt to recapture Latrun and
end the siege on Jerusalem, ultimately failed after
several costly attacks. Still, the partial
success of Operation Danny boosted morale in the Israeli side, which was gaining ground on Arab army’s. In July Ben-Gurion proposed
attacking Arab army’s in Judea and Samaria, or
the present-day West bank. He also supported another
attempt to attack Latrun with the aim of capturing east Jerusalem, including the Old City, and
liberating all of Jerusalem. But Ben-Gurion, a man
used to getting his way, was opposed by his top military advisers, who feared another attack on
Latrun would ultimately fail and preferred giving resourcing
and manpower other fronts, namely, the southern Negev region. Ultimately it was put to a
vote and Ben-Gurion lost, with members of his own
party voting against him. Now diverting resources to the south ultimately proved to
be a pretty good idea, where the fight against
the Egyptians continued. By the Fall of 1948 Israeli
forces were preparing a major offensive to drive
the Egyptians of Beersheba, southern Israels largest city. The Negev Brigade, a branch of the IDF, launched their attack
earlier in the morning and within a few hours the Egyptians surrendered at
the city’s police station. About 120 Egyptian soldiers
were taken as prisoners This was a crucial blow to the Egyptians, as losing Beersheba
severed a key supply route. On the other side, capturing Beersheba helped the Israelis take back control of the southern desert. In December the Israeli
successfully launched Operation Horev, a final
assault on Egyptian forces in the southwest, which ultimately
ended the Egyptian threat on Israel’s southern communities. By February of 1949,
Egypt official withdrew. Israel emerged bruised and battered. In all, over 6,000 Israelis died, which was bout 1% of
Israel’s total population. A massive loss. And this number, tragically, included 2,000 Holocaust survivors. But the country was still standing. Meanwhile, in response
to Israel’s victory, more than 850,000 Jews living
in Iran and Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, were expelled from their homelands, and many settled in the new Jewish state. The indigenous Arab population was ultimately the worst hit though. 700,000 fled or exiled, and according to Arab historian, Aref al-Aref,
more than 15,000 were killed. Despite the huge losses Israel incurred, both from a casualty stand
point and from losing the eastern part of
Jerusalem to the Jordanians, the war was still a huge
success for the Jews overall. They created a new, modern army, took in swarves of Jewish
refugees from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and they started a nation in
the Jewish ancestral homeland. As is often the case in history, the war had different impacts
of different people though. For Israel it was a huge success, for many Arabs, it was a massive loss. But only by acknowledging
the different perspectives can we begin to unravel
the true complexity of what happened in 1948. Thanks for watching,
see you guys next week. (upbeat electronic music)

About James Carlton

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6 thoughts on “What Happened During Israel’s 1948 War?

  1. What happened during israel's war of independence? The result is victory for Israel and catastrophe to arabs, for more info go to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947%E2%80%931949_Palestine_war

  2. I feel you've failed to mention that Plan D was proposed >6 months< into the fighting between the Jews and the Arabs, the 'first phase of the war', in which both sides were fighting for control of various mixed cities and important roads, Jewish militia vs Arab militia. In the first phase of the war, because of the great attacks by the Arabs on isolated Jewish communities, the Jews resorted to defensive strategies with rather punitive retaliatory actions, Plan D was basically a strategy change: from defensive to offensive. It wasn't enacted out of the blue like I understand from how you explained it. Then a month later independence was declared, proper Arab armies invaded, the Jewish militias joined together to form the IDF and the war turned to army vs army in contrast to the first stage of the war. Still very much enjoy this channel, no offense 🙂

  3. There's much more to talk about. You forgot to mention the northern front, which was also an impressive Israeli success.

  4. Strange…there was never a "Palestinian" state or people and then suddenly there are. I think history has been twisted against Israel and the lies are still being perpetrated upon everyone.

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