The War of Independence 1948-1949

500 words we should know about the War of Independence 1948-1949

In November 1947 the United Nations partitioned the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine according to demographic considerations and on the basis that each ethnic group should have land to develop and attract future immigrants.

The British Mandate included 120,000 km2, but in 1922 England gave away 76.5% of Palestine for the creation of a first Arab state called Jordan. The Jews received 55% of the remaining 23.5% of the land where they were the majority and where they owned land. The Jews accepted their territory despite enormous difficulties. The Arabs did not accept the partition and declared their intention to annihilate the Jews.

We can divide this conflict into two parts. The first part begins after the partition of Palestine at the UN (29/11/1947) until the Declaration of Independence of Israel (14/5/1948), a period during which the Arabs of the British Mandate attack the Jews in a kind of civil war. The second part begins with the invasion of six Arab armies eager to destroy the newborn Jewish state. On both occasions the aggressors were the same: the Arabs.

The exact number of Arab dead in the 1948 war is unknown: it is assumed that 2,000 Egyptians, 1,000 Syrians, 1,000 Jordanians, 500 Iraqis, 500 Lebanese and another 3,000 Arabs from Palestine… in total: about 8,000 people. Aref El-Aref, who also includes the dead caused by disputes between Palestinian Arab clans, puts the death toll at 17,000 (13,000 of them Palestinian Arabs). They killed each other again! In 1948, more Arabs were killed by other Arabs than were killed in combat against Israel.

During the war, on April 9, 1948, there was a battle in the village of Dir Yassin, where 107 civilians and 13 Arab soldiers were killed, mainly because of the use of civilians as human shields and because of an accident in a truck carrying a loudspeaker (from the Etzel-Leji), which was intended to warn civilians to flee but fell into a ditch. This was used to call for Arab relief.

After being attacked, Israel added 5,700 square kilometers to what had been assigned to it by partition. At the end of the war, the State of Israel extended over 20,770 square kilometers, which is 77% of the post-1922 Palestinian Mandate (about 27,000 square kilometers) and 17.30% of the original land of Palestine (including Jordan).

It was a very hard war for Israel: 6,373 killed in the battle for its independence (4,000 soldiers and 2,373 civilians).

Arab countries signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949, starting with Egypt (February 24), followed by Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3) and Syria (July 20). Iraq was the only country that did not sign an agreement with Israel. None of the Arab states would negotiate a peace agreement until the first with Egypt in 1979. The cease-fire lines were military armistice agreements and not recognized borders.