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An excerpt of the Israeli perspective of 1948 from a proposed textbook.


  • ,.Jilio'u.The War of lndependenceBackgroundThe violent confrontations between Jews and Arabsin the land of lsrael started in the early 1920s. Forthe most part, the Jews defended themselves againstattacks by the Arabs. fhe Hagana was responsiblefor defense of the Jewish community, and sometimesBritish armed forces intervened to end the violence.The Hagana was established in 1 920 primarily as aregional organization; in each settlement its mem-bers were responsible for its own defense. Every Jew-ish resident of the land of lsrael was eligible to join,the main condition being the person's ability to keepthe organization's activities secret. At first theHagana's limited mobility hindered its capability tocarry out attacks. After the 1921 uprisings theHagana expanded by drafting new members, conduct-ing courses for commanders and accelerating weap-ons' acquisition. Armaments were purchased abroador manufactured in factories located primarily in kib-butzim. The Hagana was under the authority of theelected governing institutions of the yishuv (Jewishcommunity in the land of lsrael.)ln 1936 there was an Arab uprising which called forliberation from British rule. They attacked Britishforces and Jews as well. ln the course of the revoltthe British recommended a solution: To divide theland into two states - Arab and Jewish (the Peel Com-mission Report). The Arab leadership rejected theproposal of partition. fhe yishuvleadership acceptedthe principle of partition but opposed the borderssuggested by the commission.At the end of World War ll, in spite of revelationsabout the scope of the Jewish Holocaust in Europeand the murder of millions of Jews, Britain refused topermit the establishment of a Jewish state. ln post-war Europe there were over 100,000 Jewish refu-gees who could not return to their homes, but theBritish refused to allow them to immigrate to the landCHAPTER 2


    of lsrael. The yishuv fought the decision' Britain, whoseresources had been drained by the war, turned theissue of the land of lsrael over to the United Nations;the organization appointed a special committee whichonce more recommended partition as a solution tothe problem.

    The IJN partition plan as approved on November 29, 1947

    On Novemb er ?9 , 1947 , the UN General Assembly,by a large majority, approved the resolution calling

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    for two independent states to be established along-side each other in the land of lsrael (Resolution 181)'Members of the Jewish community danced in thestreets to celebrate but shortly afterward Palestin-ian Arabs and volunteers from Arab countries thatrejected the partition plan attacked, and the warbegan.

    The Civil War: December 1947-May 1948The war that began on Novembe r 29 , 1947 is knownas the War of lndependence because it resulted inindependence for the Jewish community in the landof lsrael, in spite of the fact that at the beginninglocal Arabs, and then armies from Arab countries triedto prevent it.Local Arab troops and volunteers attacked isolatedJewish communities, Jews in cities with mixedpopulations and the roads. They also employed ter-ror tactics - all Jewish people, settlements and prop-erty were considered to be legitimate targets' Themost serious terror attacks were against the Haifa oilrefineries, where 39 Jews were murdered in Decem-ber 1947.At the time Hagana tactics were primarily defensiveor focused on specific objectives. Because of Arabattacks, various areas of the yishuv were cut off from

    . the center and became isolated. The Hagana tried toiqpply besieged areas by means of clandestine con-voys. These convoys became the foci of armed con-frolrtations between Jews and Arabs, but in spite ofeverything, no Jewish settlement was abandoned.Dozens of fighters were killed in attempts to relieveisolated communities. The main efforts were dedi-cated to bringing supplies to the besieged city ofJerusalem, and this resulted in many victims. lnmemory of these martyrs, Haim Gouri wrote the poemBab Et-Wad which is the Arabic name for Sha'ar Ha-6al lgate to the valley] - a strategic point where con-voys began the climb from the coastal plains to thehills of Jerusalem.


  • tl.k",Bab El-Wad by Haim Gouri

    I return to this place and stand near the cliffs,The black asphalt road, the sfones, the hills;Evening falls slowly, a wind blows from the sea;The light of the first star glows above Beit Machsir.Bab El-Wad,Remember our names forever;And'the convoys that broke through to the city;Our dead lie along the road,The steel skeletons as silent as my comrade.Bab El-WaiC.REmember our names forever;Bab El-Wad, on the way to the city.Here the sun seared lead and tar;Here knives and fire tore the night.Here, together, orJr soffow and gloty lie -Scorched armor and a unknown name.Bab El-Wad remember our names forever...I walk on, passing by so softlyAnd I remember them - each and every one;Here, among boulders and hills, we fought

    together;Here, like a devoted family, we were together.Bab Et-Wad forever remember ...Springtime will come, cyclamen will grow,Crimson anemones will spill over hills and slopes.To those who follow along our pathDo not forget us, because we are Bab El-Wad.

    ln an interview Haggai Horowitz, a historian and fighterin the Palmach, described how he and members of hisgeneration viewed the Arab objectives in those days:

    ln 1947 Arab national movements introduceda radical change in their goals: lnstead ofblocking the expansion of the 'Zionist entity,'Palestinians and other Arabs launched a unitedefforc to conquer Jewish areas in order to



    eradicate their presence from the land. Omi-nous intentions were already evidenced by theGrand Mufti of Jerusalem - Hai Amin Al-Husseini when he allied himself with Hitler. Butthat year (1947) for the first time, it becameclear to all of us that we faced immediate andexistential danger. The confirmation did notstem from imaginary fears, the records ofhistory cir manipulation of facts, but fromsimply looking at Arab objectives as explicitlyexpressed in official declarations and inflamma'tory propaganda, and above all by deeds: Theabsolute rejection of the UN partition plan;Palestinian attacks and massacres of Jews thatby 1 947 had spread to all parts of the coun-try; and ultimately the invasion by regularmilitary traops of Arab countries with armored ,and artillery divisions, naval and air forces - all

    , for the purpose of annihilating the newbornstate of lsrael. Through allthe years of rela-tions between us, this completely changed thenature of the conflict and our battle tactics.Thus was born the widespread aeceptance ofthe fact that'there is no choice'; it allowed usjust one possibility: Fight to win.

    (from Eyal Naveh and Esther Yogev,Histories, pp. 1 63-1 64)

    Ptan DatedBefore the British withdrew from the country, theyishuv leadership decided it had to change its tacticsfrom defensive to offensive and thus prepared P/arDaled.Ihe reasons for implementing the plan wereThe growing distress of besieged and isolated Jewislsettlements, especially Jerusalem; the need to plarfor the invasion of regular troops from Arab countries; the suspicion that the US was about to proposla diplomatic move to abandon the partition plan; antinformation that the British would not, at least athat particular point, reverse Jewish military gains.



    The purpose of plan Daled was to shore up control cthe areas designated in the partition plan as paft cthe Jewish state, plus Jerusalem and the road leacing to rt. ln the course of ,Operation Nachshon,, lhname for part of the plan, the Hagana.(especiall,. members of the palmach - the offeisivl arm of th,Hagana) captured three villages on the road to Jerusalem, so the road was opeied for a time allowinrsupply cglvoys to reach the besieged city. tn'ihrcourse of plpn Daled several mixed iities.were alsrcaptured: Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias and Safed. The actioris of Plan Daled broke the military initiative of thrPalestinian Arabs and hastened theii flight from theirtowns and villages.Arab refugeesDuring the very first stages of the war Arab residentslggul leavinf their communities in the land of tsrael.The first were those who were well_off economicallylBe1nV Morris, The Birth of the paiestinian RefugeeProblem, 1942-1949, pp. 5.l, 67). The result was asignificant weakening of the entire Arab .orruniiy.The Arab leader Haj.Amin Al_Husseini, was in Egyftat that time. He did not oppose this developrientas he thought that the temporary departure of civil_ians would ease the way for the Arab fighting forcesto win.Most of the Jewish military and civilian leaders in theland welcomed the flight of the Arabs for political' reasons (that the future Jewish state would includeas small an Arab minority as possible); and for mili_tary reasons (to distance a hostile population fromthe field of battle). During the course irf pf"n Ouf"J,13qun3 forces began to deport Arabs. However, notallArabs were deported and there were no high_ievelpolitical orders to do so, although military were given freedom to act as they jaw fit. Thusthe flight was due to deporting pnd frightening theArabs, and because of their own fears wiihout regardto lsraeli actions. During the course of the war about _370 Arab villages were destroyed.PAGE 25PAGE



    During the war there were a number of massacres,robbery and rape by Jewish fighters. The most fa-mous of these was at Deir Yassin, a village near Jeru-salem, where more than 250 Arabs were killed bymembers of the Etzel and Lehi [the lrgun and theStern Gangl. Natan Yellin-Mor responded to the mas-sacre:

    When I remember what led to the massacre ofmy mother, sister and other members of myfamily, I can't accept this massacre. I know thatin the heat