War Of Independence

1949 Map

Two days after the adoption of the 1947 partition plan, the "holy men of AL-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt called on the Muslim world to proclaim jihad (holy war) against the Jews."

The first phase of the war lasted from November 29, 1947 through April 1, 1948. In this phase, the Arabs took an offensive stance with much help from neighboring Arab countries. In this time, the Jewish people suffered huge casualties and travel along most of the roadways was blocked and disrupted.

The Jews started to take initiative from April 1 though May 14, in the face of large disadvantages in numbers, weapons and organizations. They managed to temporarily open roadways to Jerusalem.

On May 14, the Jewish State of Palestine was born and the British left the country. The armies of Israel's five neighboring Arab nations - Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq - instantly invaded the one day old Israel from every single direction. "Their intentions were declared by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League: 'This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.'"

The Arab countries were well-equipped with high tech weaponry. In contrast, the Jews lacked matching artillery, tanks, and warplanes in the first days of the war. Two Jewish defense forces, the Irgun Zeva'I Le-ummi and the Lohamei Herut Israel merged to form the new Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and protect their homeland. The Jews fought back their attackers with a vengeance, and the Arab war to destroy Israel ended in failure. By the end of the war, the Arabs had lost territory they would have had if they had just accepted the United Nations Partition Plan. The cost was high to the Israelis, too. Military expenditures totaled $500 million, and 6,373 Israelis were killed, nearly one percent of the Jewish population of 650,000. An armistice was signed in 1949 by Egypt (February 24), Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3), and Syria (July 20), but Iraq refused to sign an agreement with Israel.

The map above shows the armistice lines in 1949, following the war. Click to enlarge it.