Arab - Israeli Wars Essay

This essay has a total of 1541 words and 17 pages.

Arab - Israeli Wars


the United Nations partition of PALESTINE in 1947 and

the establishment of the modern state of ISRAEL in 1948,

there have been four major Arab-Israeli wars (1947-49,

1956, 1967, and 1973) and numerous intermittent battles.

Although Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979,

hostility between Israel and the rest of its Arab neighbors,

complicated by the demands of Palestinian Arabs, continued

into the 1980s. THE FIRST PALESTINE WAR (1947-49)

The first war began as a civil conflict between Palestinian

Jews and Arabs following the United Nations

recommendation of Nov. 29, 1947, to partition Palestine,

then still under British mandate, into an Arab state and a

Jewish state. Fighting quickly spread as Arab guerrillas

attacked Jewish settlements and communication links to

prevent implementation of the UN plan. Jewish forces

prevented seizure of most settlements, but Arab guerrillas,

supported by the Transjordanian Arab Legion under the

command of British officers, besieged Jerusalem. By April,

Haganah, the principal Jewish military group, seized the

offensive, scoring victories against the Arab Liberation Army

in northern Palestine, Jaffa, and Jerusalem. British military

forces withdrew to Haifa; although officially neutral, some

commanders assisted one side or the other. After the British

had departed and the state of Israel had been established on

May 15, 1948, under the premiership of David

BEN-GURION, the Palestine Arab forces and foreign

volunteers were joined by regular armies of Transjordan

(now the kingdom of JORDAN), IRAQ, LEBANON, and

SYRIA, with token support from SAUDI ARABIA. Efforts

by the UN to halt the fighting were unsuccessful until June

11, when a 4-week truce was declared. When the Arab

states refused to renew the truce, ten more days of fighting

erupted. In that time Israel greatly extended the area under

its control and broke the siege of Jerusalem. Fighting on a

smaller scale continued during the second UN truce

beginning in mid-July, and Israel acquired more territory,

especially in Galilee and the Negev. By January 1949, when

the last battles ended, Israel had extended its frontiers by

about 5,000 sq km (1,930 sq mi) beyond the 15,500 sq km

(4,983 sq mi) allocated to the Jewish state in the UN

partition resolution. It had also secured its independence.

During 1949, armistice agreements were signed under UN

auspices between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and

Lebanon. The armistice frontiers were unofficial boundaries

until 1967. SUEZ-SINAI WAR (1956) Border conflicts

between Israel and the Arabs continued despite provisions in

the 1949 armistice agreements for peace negotiations.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who had left

Israeli-held territory during the first war concentrated in

refugee camps along Israel's frontiers and became a major

source of friction when they infiltrated back to their homes or

attacked Israeli border settlements. A major tension point

was the Egyptian-controlled GAZA STRIP, which was used

by Arab guerrillas for raids into southern Israel. Egypt's

blockade of Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and Gulf of

Aqaba intensified the hostilities. These escalating tensions

converged with the SUEZ CRISIS caused by the

nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian president

Gamal NASSER. Great Britain and France strenuously

objected to Nasser's policies, and a joint military campaign

was planned against Egypt with the understanding that Israel

would take the initiative by seizing the Sinai Peninsula. The

war began on Oct. 29, 1956, after an announcement that the

armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were to be integrated

under the Egyptian commander in chief. Israel's Operation

Kadesh, commanded by Moshe DAYAN, lasted less than a

week; its forces reached the eastern bank of the Suez Canal

in about 100 hours, seizing the Gaza Strip and nearly all the

Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai operations were supplemented by

an Anglo-French invasion of Egypt on November 5, giving

the allies control of the northern sector of the Suez Canal.

The war was halted by a UN General Assembly resolution

calling for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of all

occupying forces from Egyptian territory. The General

Assembly also established a United Nations Emergency

Force (UNEF) to replace the allied troops on the Egyptian

side of the borders in Suez, Sinai, and Gaza. By December

22 the last British and French troops had left Egypt. Israel,

however, delayed withdrawal, insisting that it receive security

guarantees against further Egyptian attack. After several

additional UN resolutions calling for withdrawal and after

pressure from the United States, Israel's forces left in March

1957. SIX-DAY WAR (1967) Relations between Israel

and Egypt remained fairly stable in the following decade. The

Suez Canal remained closed to Israeli shipping, the Arab

boycott of Israel was maintained, and periodic border

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