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The War for Independence and the Arab Israeli Conflict

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    The Israeli war for independence in 1948 begun when David Ben Gurion announced the establishment of the state of Israel on May 5th; and had a significant effect on events thereafter, all the way to the 6 day war of 1967, and beyond. When Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel, the Arab states where infuriated, immediately seeking to destroy this new country, because they viewed it as a ploy by western powers, such as the USA, to secure a foothold in the Middle East, and Israel was cast as the stooge of the USA by its neighbours.

    From the beginning, both sides immediately attempted to seize territory. Israel claimed a large majority of the state, while Arab forces captured, most notably, the Gaza strip, now held by Egypt through the Sinai Peninsula. The central hills of Palestine were annexed by Jordan and labelled the West Bank, lying between Israel and Jordan that is to the east. Finally the Golan Heights, to the north, were captured by Syria. They had been hustling for control of the area for a long time, and finally they had seized it.

    Israel would later seize control of all of these areas in the six day war, as well as crippling all the countries which held them Throughout the Israeli war for independence, there were horrific acts committed by both sides. The radical Israeli groups; the Stern and Irgun gangs, massacred the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, killing over 240 people. In retaliation to this horrific event, Arab forces killed 77 Israeli medical personnel. Terrible acts like this continued throughout the war.

    The war for independence ended in February 1949 when a ceasefire was finally signed by all parties . Israel had a Jewish population of six hundred and fifty thousand people . Over six thousand soldiers were killed in the war; while it is estimated that there were some ten to fifteen thousand Arab casualties. There was now a massive gap between Arab and Israelis, widened by mistrust and hostility. As well as the massive Arab casualties; the conflict created over seven hundred thousand Palestinian refugees, which was about half of what was Palestine’s population.

    The poor and uneducated Palestinian refugees were put into UN camps, there were 53 camps outside the borders of Israel, housing some six hundred and fifty thousand Palestinian refugees who had been expelled from their own country, and couldn’t get citizenship in any of their neighbouring Arab states. At the end of the war of independence, approximately one hundred and fifty thousand Arabs remained in Israel, the majority becoming labourers who were treated unfairly . During the war there was a massive spike in Jewish immigration.

    Even Jews from neighbouring countries moved to Israel; by 1957 over half a million immigrants had come from Israel’s neighbouring countries. The war for independence established Israel as a military power, able to defend itself. Its armies were yet to be defeated . With the surrounding states sieging Israel, cutting off supplies, Israel moved to become self-sufficient; but faced with the reality of being surrounded by hostile countries that were out to destroy their state. Israel then realised that economic independence was impossible , so they began to rely heavily on US support.

    Israel would neither confirm, nor refute that they have or had nuclear weapons due to the mounting threat. However it is speculated that they did and they would have used them if the existence their country was threatened. Another defence measure was the creation of the Mossad; the Israeli secret service, which is revered and feared throughout the world. They were engaged in espionage, intelligence and covert operations all over the world, but especially against the hostile neighbouring countries.

    Facing the mounting threats to their country, Israel trained up a formidable defence force; even military service is compulsory for all citizens of Israel. Israel has never been defeated by its neighbouring countries, even when their forces were combined. These excellent armies coupled with one of the best intelligence forces in the world means that Israel could battle and defeat all opposing forces it was faced with . The war for independence had a significant effect on both Israel’s neighbouring countries, as well as the two influential superpowers involved.

    Initially Jordan was in more competition with the other Arab countries over control over Palestine than with Israel. King Hussein was personally interested in his own land grab. In the aftermath of the “catastrophe”, Egypt was careful, under Nasser’s rule, to distance itself from any conflicts that could seriously damage the country. But in 1968 during the six day war, they were severely beaten by Israel. After their defeat in 1948, SYRIA gained a new government through a coup in 1949, which its self was then over thrown in 1954.

    Under this latest government Syria united with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic, which opposed Israel. But, being treated as a lesser to Egypt frustrated Syria who withdrew from the league in 1961. In 1964, the Ba’ath party took over, which was initially popular with it reforms and it anti-Israeli stance, but when it lost the Golan Heights in 1964 to Israel, all faith in it was lost. Due to the strong lobby of the Jewish people, the USA became a strong supporter and main benefactor to Israel in the initial wars, supplying Israel both economically and with military aid.

    But in later years, the US, under pressure from the waning Arab oil supplies, itself pressured Israel into negotiations with the Arab states and the PLO. The USSR initially backed the creation of Israel hoping to gain support from the large amount of Russian Jews immigrating there, but the Jewish state cared little for Russia’s communist ideals. As a result of this backfire, the USSR switched it allegiances, trying to be allies with Israel it instead opted to befriend the Arabs, hoping to test the US resolve by maintaining pressure Israel through the Arab states, while also hoping to get a foot up on the US through oil supplies .

    Both super powers were backing these conflicting countries, and kept arming, supplying, and informing them as a show of arms to the other. They had little concern for the damage it was having on the countries themselves. The Israelis war for independence and its outcomes affected the events of the entire Arab Israeli conflict, as well as the countries involved .

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