The War of Independence
Arab violence, helped by volunteers from Arab countries, had started immediately after the UN decision, with assaults on Jewish traffic and against Jewish settlements and quarters to such an extent that a full scale war was in progress before the British left. On May 14, 1948 at a special meeting of an elected council, David Ben Gurion read out the Declaration of Independence establishing the State of Israel. On May 15, the regular armies of 5 Arab states (including air-forces, armour and artillery) invaded. That day Egyptian planes bombed Tel Aviv and their ground forces advanced northward and cut off the Negev. Small isolated Jewish settlements held up the advance which was stopped 20 miles from Tel Aviv in a major engagement.
Jordan's Arab Legion and Iraqi troops attacked from the East. The Legion occupied most of the Judean Hills, East Jerusalem and the Old City except for the Jewish Quarter which fell later. The Iraqis tried to advance westward to the sea. The Israeli forces, despite several desperate and costly efforts, failed to take Latrun and thus widen the Jerusalem corridor. Jewish Jerusalem was under siege and bombarded constantly. The discovery of a new route contributed greatly to the ability of the city to hold out and prevented its isolation. The Syrians advanced into a densely populated Jewish agricultural areea but were stopped at the oldest of the communal settlements, Deganiah. The Lebanese made no real headway.
On June 11, a four week truce came into effect and Israel used the lull for training and reorganisation and, when the fighting resumed, took the initiative. In a major offensive Lydda and Ramle fell, removing the threat from Tel Aviv and opening the road to Jerusalem. the Lower Galilee was cleared and Nazareth fell. Attempts to conquer the Old City failed. After a second cease fire, which started on July 19, an offensive in October broke through the Egyptian lines in the South, forced them to withdraw, and conquered part of the Judean Hills. at the end of 1948 Israeli forces advanced into Sinai as far as El Arish and Rafiah, cutting off the whole of the Egyptian army, but withdrew after US and British political pressure. In the North, the Arab 'Army of Deliverance' was expelled.
An armistic agreement was signed with Egypt in February 1949 on the island of Rhodes. In March, in the face of an Israeli advance, the Legion evacuated Eilat. Later, armistice agreements wer signed with Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Neither Iraq nor Saudi Arabia (which had sent contingents to fight) entered into such agreements.
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