The First Arab-Israeli War is started (May 15, 1948) - History Key

The First Arab-Israeli War is started (May 15, 1948)

Jews and Palestinian Arabs are fighting for the same small geographic area for more than 100 years because the land has a religious significance for both nations. Since the official adoption of the State of Israel in 1948, the Arab-Israeli conflict intensified and attracted the attention of the whole world. The main issue is the vaguely defined boundaries of Israel and the territories occupied by it:

      West Bank – belonged to Jordan

      Gaza Strip – belonged to Egypt

      Golan Heights – belonged to Syria


In 1947 a Special Commission was established by the United Nations in order to create a dividing plan for Palestine. Therefore, Palestine was split in two states: an Arab state and a Jew State. The plan was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/Res/181 – II) and provided the following organization:

      Arab State – 10,000 Jews from a total population of 735,000

      Jewish State – 407,000 Arabs from a total population of 905,000

      International Zone – 105,000 Arabs and 100,000 Jews

This division of the territory has caused many complaints among the Palestinian inhabitants as they saw their territory invaded by a population considered by them to be illegitimate. The large number of Jewish immigrants, especially from Europe, contributed to increase the Arab Palestinian opposition. The Arab movement was backed by the Arab states, which aimed to maintain the supremacy of the Arab world. Therefore, the Israel’s sovereignty was deeply contested.

Kaukji, the Arab Liberation Army commander
Kaukji, the Arab Liberation Army commander ©Image Source: Wikipedia

Life-and-Death struggle

The war was regarded by both sides as “a life-and-death struggle”. The Jews were struggling for their independency of Israel while the Palestinians among with the Arab states (Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) fought to defend their unity. The Arabs considered the Jewish population a threat to the supremacy of the Arab world.

Israel began fighting with almost 30,000 soldiers, reaching at 110,000 by December 1948. At the time when the Arab forces invaded Israel, it included a total of 23,500 soldiers. At the beginning of war, the soldiers from both sides were more or less equal, but the Israel troops increased significant comparing to the Arab forces. On the other hand, the Arab weapons were clearly superior to Israel, but later on, Israel resources have seen a major increase.

An Israeli Avia S-199, in June 1948
An Israeli Avia S-199, in June 1948 ©Image Source: Wikipedia

The improvement of Israel’s military resources was made with the support of the United States and several European countries that have consistently sent military equipment to Israel.

The first ending

The Arab forces had the tactical advantage and they surprised the Israeli forces several times. However, the Israeli soldiers have benefited from the inner communications lines and the fortified settlements. Also, the Arab forces were disadvantaged by not taking in consideration the large number of Israeli troops due to their mobilization. At the same time, Israelis had to fight on three different fronts to defend their country, but they were lucky because of the ineffective coordination of the enemy forces.

Israeli soldiers capturing Beersheba, 1948 Ramla
Israeli soldiers capturing Beersheba, 1948, Ramla © Hugo Mendelson/ Image Source: Wikipedia
Arab forces surrender to the victorious Israelis in Ramla
Arab forces surrender to the victorious Israelis in Ramla © Hugo Mendelson/ Image Source: Wikipedia

Finally, the war of Israel’s independence took place over a period of one year and ended with a series of armistice agreements imposed by the United Nations. On February 24, Israel signed an armistice with Egypt, one month later with Lebanon, On April with Jordan and with Syria on July.

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