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Israel: War of Independence bloodiest of Israel's wars

By Jacky Achan

Added 1st July 2016 07:10 PM

The Israeli government say the lives lost, was almost 1% of the Jewish community although that figure also includes quite a number of new immigrants and some foreign volunteers.

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MIGS destroyed during the raid by Isreal commandos

The Israeli government say the lives lost, was almost 1% of the Jewish community although that figure also includes quite a number of new immigrants and some foreign volunteers.

The battle of Independence was the bloodiest of all Israel's wars. 6,373 Jews were killed in action (from pre-state days until 20 July 1949).

The Israeli government say the lives lost, was almost 1% of the Jewish community although that figure also includes quite a number of new immigrants and some foreign volunteers.

It says 15,000 Jews were also wounded in the war that consisted of 39 separate operations.
But the account of the war that brought about the existence of Israel is deeply controversial. Israelis and their supporters have traditionally referred to the conflict as the War of Independence,

They see it as a defensive war that was fought to prevent the destruction of the fledgling Jewish state in the face of overwhelming Arab aggression.

But the Palestinian and their allies know it was a war that destroyed the Palestinian society, established Jewish rule in Palestine and expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes.

The Independence war was fought along the entire border of the country, from the borders of Lebanon to the Sinai Peninsula and Eilat the Red sea resort city on the southernmost tip of Israel.

Roots of the war
According to the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, the independence war had its roots in waves of Zionist immigration to the Land of Israel, beginning in the 1880s and peaking in the 1930s and 40s, with the flight of Jews from the Holocaust.

The absence of a single country willing to give them a home, made urgent the need for a Jewish state.

Following World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jewish displaced persons set their sights on immigration from the diaspora to the land of Isreal.

But the British government in control of Palestine since 1917 and keen to maintain friendly relations with the Arab world refused to admit them.

 As violence between Jews, Arabs, and the British mounted, Britain handed over the problem to the United Nations.

The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) proposed the end of British rule and the partition of the country into Jewish and Arab states and an internationally controlled area around Jerusalem.

The Zionists, desperate to enable Jewish immigration and with an eye to future territorial expansion, accepted the plan. The Arabs rejected it as they opposed any Jewish rule in Palestine.

Start of the Independence war
According Matt Plen the Chief Executive of Masorti Judaism in the UK, on November 29, on the heels of the UN General Assembly's vote in favor of partition, Jewish settlements and neighborhoods were attacked by Palestinian guerrillas.

But what ensued was in effect two separate conflicts, a civil war between Palestine's Jews and Arabs (November 29 1947-May 14 1948).

It was followed by the establishment of the state of Israel and its invasion by five Arab armies. The ensuing war lasted until July 1949.

In the civil war, the Jews' underground defense organization together with two smaller paramilitary units, fought against loosely organized Palestinian fighters and volunteers from Arab countries.

Between November and March, the main challenge was to repel Arab attacks on isolated settlements, Jewish areas of mixed cities, and on the roads.

The road to Jerusalem came under attack and the Jewish neighborhoods of the capital were cut off, unable to receive supplies, food, or water.

The Jewish forces repelled most Arab attacks but suffered heavy defeats, for example the loss of 35 soldiers en route to defend the Etzion bloc of settlements.

In April 1948, in anticipation of the British departure, the Jew fighters launched Plan D, an offensive program for the expansion of Jewish-controlled territory.

On April 9, they invaded an Arab village near Jerusalem, killing more than 100 Arab civilians prompting the flight of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. Tens of thousands of additional refugees fled.

But seventy-seven Jewish medical personnel were in return killed by Arab forces on April 13 and May 13 plus129 of the settlement's defenders were killed by Arab villagers from the Hebron area.

By mid-May, the Jews had routed the Arab forces and was in control of the major cities and more than 100 Palestinian villages.

 It had 30,000 fighters under arms and had taken delivery of a major arms purchase from Czechoslovakia. On May 14, 1948, the eve of Britain's departure,David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel at a ceremony in Tel Aviv.
 The next day, the new state was invaded by the armies of Egypt,
Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Escalation of the war
Plen in his writing says the immediate challenge faced by the newly formed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was to rebuff the Arab attack, defending Jewish settlements until the arrival of reinforcements.

The first month of the war was marked by heavy fighting against Jordan's Arab Legion in Jerusalem; by the end of May the Jordanians had conquered the Old City and expelled its Jewish inhabitants.

Syria's advance into the Galilee was repulsed and the Egyptian invasion was blocked just north of Gaza.

Following a month-long truce brokered by the United Nations but hostilities resumed in July 1948.

In Operation Dani, the IDF broke the siege of Jerusalem capturing two Arab towns in the Jerusalem corridor forcing 50,000 Palestinian refugees to flee their homes.

In October, following a second UN-sponsored truce, the IDF captured the upper Galilee and drove the Egyptian army out of the Negev by December.

In March 1949, another operation saw Israeli forces complete their conquest of the southern part of the country.

The War of Independence was concluded by the signing of armistice agreements between Israel and the surrounding Arab states.

Israel was left in control of 78 percent of mandatory Palestine around 50 percent more than it had been allocated in the partition plan.

The remaining 22 percent was split between Jordan (West Bank and East Jerusalem) and Egypt (Gaza Strip).

 An independent Palestine was never established, and no Arab state recognized Israel's existence.

In the shadow of the Holocaust, the victory of the new Jewish state over five Arab armies has sometimes been interpreted as little short of a miracle.


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