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David Ben-Gurion declaring Israel's independence in 1948 Photo: Government Press Office
David Ben-Gurion declaring Israel's independence in 1948 Photo: Government Press Office

War of Independence (1948)

Published: 03.28.05, 09:47 / Israel Homepage

Violence erupted immediately following the UN decision on November 29, 1947 supporting the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, but the first large-scale Arab assaults began in January, 1948.


In the first phase of Israel's War of Independence, which lasted from November, 1947 until April, 1948, Palestinian Arabs were on the
offensive, aided by volunteers from neighboring countries and inflicted heavy casualties on the local Jewish population.


But the Jews began to take the initiative from early April until the declaration of independence on May 14. The Haganah, which was the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces, captured several important towns, including Tiberias and Haifa, and managed to open the main road to Jerusalem, albeit temporarily.


The Jewish state was officially born on May 14, when British forces left Palestine. In response, the armies of five Arab countries - Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq - immediately invaded.


While Jewish forces won the war with minimal, the cost to Israel was enormous, with more than 6,000 Israelis killed, the equivalent of nearly one percent of 650,000 Jews living in the country at the time.

Financial costs were also significant, totaling some USD 500 million.


Hostilities ended with the signing of armistice agreements between Israel and the attacking countries in 1949. Iraq, however, did not sign an agreement with Israel.


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