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Index / Political / Modern Wars /
First Palestinian War

First war fought between the Jews of Palestine (from May 1948 representing the new state of Israel) and their Arab neighbours.
The war lasted from 1947 to 1949, and the parties fought over the control of Palestine. Even though there had been many clashes between Palestinians and Jews before, it was the UN recommendation to divide Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, that turned hostilities into real warfare.
The war ended by giving Israel an area larger than what the country had been given in the UN plan of 1947. The war also gave Egypt control over the Gaza Strip, while Transjordan (after 1950 Jordan) got control over the West Bank, an area they annexed in 1950.
For the Palestinians, the war resulted in years of exile, and for several millions this remains the prevailing situation.
Large parts of the Palestinian population fled Palestine during the war, in full certainty of quick victory. While some of these managed to get back into Israel in the first years following the war, Israel has for 50 years refused the requests from a majority among them to return to their old homeland.
Of the total 3 million Palestinian refugees, most live in neighbouring Arab countries, like Jordan and Lebanon. Many also live in other Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both of which have been given by Jordan and Egypt, respectively, to the Palestinians.

1947 November 29: The UN recommends to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, leaving both parties with approximately equal territory, but the best tracts with the Jews, even though Jews were in a clear minority, and most of the land for the new Jewish state was owned by the Arabs. According to this plan, Jerusalem would become international territory under UN protection. Altogether 33 countries vote for, 13 against the resolution. Britain abstains, while USA and the Soviet Union vote in favour.
— The Palestinians react by waging guerrilla attacks on Jewish settlements.
— Jewish armies manage to stall the Palestinians, but the Transjordanian Arab Legion besieges Jerusalem — the intended international zone.
1948 April: Haganah, the strongest Jewish army, has clear victories, giving them control over northern Palestine, Jaffa and Jerusalem.
May 15: Since the British intend to leave on this day, the State of Israel is declared in Tel Aviv. Arabs respond by joining forces: Palestinian Arabs join with foreign volunteers, troops from Transjordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
June 11: A 4 weeks truce is declared, by the intercession of the UN.
July 9: The Arabs refuse to renew the truce, and fighting resumes. Israel gains important victories, among which the ending of the siege of Jerusalem is the most important. Later in the same month, Israel gains ground in Galilee and in Negev.
1949 January: End of the war, as the UN manages to establish 4 armistice agreements between Israel, and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, respectively. Israel's territory was by this point enlarged by about 5,000 kmē, compared to what was granted by UN in 1947.

By Tore Kjeilen