Often when Israelis and Zionists are confronted with facts contrary to their liking, they counter by accusing the sources of fabrication or being part of the "anti-Semitic" Arab propaganda. To avoid such a "confusion", we'll directly quote two of the most prominent pro-Israeli historians, Martin Van Creveld (the renowned Israeli military strategist and historian) and Martin Gilbert, who wrote:
The Sword And The Olive, p. 77-78)
- "Senior Hagana commanders met with committee [UN Special Committee On Palestine-UNSCOP] members in Jerusalem's Talpiot quarter in similarly surreptitious circumstances to express confidence that Jewish forces, which they numbered at 90,000, including 35,000 reservists, could overcome any Arab assault should it come to war." (Jerusalem Post)
- "Ben-Gurion made serious efforts, shortly before the United Nations vote on the Partition proposal, to seek the neutrality of King Abdullah of Transjordan, whose British trained and officered army, the Arab Legion, was the STRONGEST fighting force in the Middle East. The king had long been at loggerheads with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, for the moral leadership of the Arabs of the whole region. Abdullah's secret interlocutor was to be Golda Meir:"' ...... He [King Abudullah] soon made the heart of the matter clear: he would not join in any Arab attack on us. He would always remain our friend, he said, and like us, he wanted peace more than anything else. After all, we had a common foe, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.'"(Israel: A History, p.149-150)
The Sword And The Olive, p. 95)
- ".... there was no common military headquarters, no attempts at coordinating the offenses of the Arab armies, and ... not even a regular liaison service for sharing enemy intelligence." (The Sword And The Olive, p. 83)
- "Perhaps the most important [of the Arab armies problems] was a crippled shortage of ammunition, owing to the international arms embargo ..., in the case of the Iraqis and Egyptians, long lines of communications. For example, after February 25, 1948, the Arab Legion received no new ammunition for its 20mm guns. Some of the ammunition used by the Iraqi artillery was more than thirty years old; the Syrians had no ammunition for their heavy 155mm guns. Whereas Jewish stockpiles were growing all the times [especially the big arms shipment from Czechoslovakia in May 1948], the enemies were so depleted they stole ammunition shipments for each other. In addition, they were ill-coordinated, technically incompetent, slow, ponderous, badly led, and unable to cope with night operations that willy-nilly, constituted the IDF's expertise." (The Sword And The Olive, p. 95-96)
- Soon after the execution of Operation Dani in the first half of July 1948, Yigal Allon wrote a Palmach (Haganah's strike force) report stating that the expulsion of Lydda's and Ramla's inhabitants had:
"clogged the routes of the advance of the [Transjordan Arab] Legion and had foisted upon the Arab economy the problem of "maintaining another 45,000 souls . . . Moreover, the phenomenon of the flight of tens of thousands will no doubt cause demoralization in every Arab area [the refugees] reach . . . This victory will yet have great effect on other sectors." (Israel: A History, p. 218 & Benny Morris, p. 211)
Although we disagree with the Arab armies' statistics (30,000 men) that was presented by Mr. Creveld, the reader could conclude the following:
- The strongest Arab army to enter Palestine was in cahoots with the Israelis from the start. Based on H.M. King Abdullah's orders (who also commanded the Iraqi Army in addition to Transjordan's), the strongest Arab armies did not even encroach on the areas allotted to the Jewish state by the 1947 UN GA Partition plan. On the contrary, the truth was the exact opposite, for example:
1- Lydda, Ramla, and the Triangle Areas were handed over to the Israelis without a fight. Although Transjordan's Army withdrew based on the orders of H.M. the King, the Iraqi Army (which was positioned few kilometers north in Ras al-'Ayn) was given explicit orders not to intervene (their motto in Arabic was: maku 'Awamer). It should be noted that these areas used to be densely populated with Palestinians, were fertile, and were strategically located for both Arab and Israeli supply lines.
2- When the Israeli Army attacked the Egyptian (south) and Syrian (northeast) armies in mid-October, 1948, the Iraqi and Jordanian armies were forbidden from opening a third front in the middle and south. The Iraqi Army was capable of splitting Israel in half if it was given the orders, and the Jordanian Army watched from the sidelines as the Israeli Army mauled the Egyptians in southern Hebron and Beersheba areas (Righteous Victims, p. 244). Note that the Iraqi Army was well positioned in the Tulkarm-Jinin areas (southeast of Haifa) which is only 12-14 kilometers from the Mediterranean, click here for a map illustration.
- Saudi Arabian and Sudanese armies contributed few thousand soldiers in the middle of the war to shore up the exhausted Egyptian army in southern Palestine.
- Under American and French pressure, the Lebanese Army was sidelined from the start, and it did not even cross the international borders. At the most, the Lebanese army provided a mediocre artillery cover to some ALA [Arab Liberation Army] volunteers at the beginning of the war. (Righteous Victims p. 233-234)
- When the Arab armies entered Palestine on May 15, 1948, close to 400,000 Palestinian refugees were already ethnically cleansed out of their homes, and they clogged the roads, burdened local economies, and demoralized the Arab populations and armies, as it was admitted by Yigal Allon. In other words, the Palestinian refugees were used as a weapon against Israel's enemies.
- The Arab armies neither coordinated their military operational plans, nor shared military intelligence among themselves. In fact, it wasn't until April 30, 1948 that the Arab armies' chiefs of staff met for the first time to work out a plan for military intervention. It's worth noting that this plan was later wrecked by H.M. King Abdullah, when he made last minute changes just before the entry of any Arab army into British Mandated Palestine. (Simha Flapan, p. 133 & Iron Wall, p. 35)
Simha Flapan, p. 123-124)
- Yochai Sela of Tel-Aviv University, has provided the following breakdown for the number of Israelis killed during the 1948 war:
Fatality Category Value Percentage of Total
1,150 20.15% Military killed 4,558 79.85%
100% Soldiers killed between
Nov. 30, 1947 - May 15, 1948
1,345** 23.56% Soldiers killed between
May 15, 1948- March 10, 1949
3,213** 56.29% Killed within the
areas designated by the UN
1,581 27.70% Killed outside the
areas designated by the UN
2,759*** 48.33% Killed defending
984 17.24% Killed attacking
Source: Simha Flapan, p. 198-199.
* Majority died in Jerusalem
** The number of Israelis killed while fighting the Arab Legion 1,367; the Palestinians, 1,092; the Egyptians, 910; the Syrians, 238; the Iraqis, 241; the Lebanese 129; Qawukji' ALA, 336, the British 30.
*** Mostly soldiers, non-civilians.
These statistics clearly show that the number of Israeli soldiers killed in offensive actions were well over 60% (2,759/4,558) of the total Israeli soldiers killed between November 30, 1947 and March 10, 1949. So from the Israeli prospective, the so called "War of Independence" was more offensive than defensive in nature.
Safad being its capital. To preempt such a plan, H.M. the King pulled out Transjordan's irregulars troops out of Safad on May 11th, 1948, which was the primary reason for its falling into Israeli hands few days later (Benny Morris, p. 105). Another good reason that enticed H.M. the King to collaborate with the Jewish Agency was the promise of future payments of $4 million a year for the next subsequent 5 years. (Simha Flapan, p. 138)
- Although there was an arms embargo on the warring parties in the Middle East, the embargo negatively affected the Arabs more than the Israelis. While the Arab armies were depleting their arms and ammunitions, the Israeli army was stockpiling weapons and ammunitions from a huge arms shipment from Czechoslovakia that arrived in early May, 1948.
- By October 1948, the Israeli army had 90,000 armed men, while the Arab armies had 68,000 armed men.
- It's a fabricated myth that seven well equipped, organized, and coordinated Arab armies attempted to PUSH the poorly armed Jews into the sea, click here to read our rebuttal to this myth.
- Click here for a detail map illustrating the standing of the Israeli and Arab armies on May 14th, 1948.
Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister, recognized that Palestinian nationalism created the very danger he was most afraid of. He knew that the victory in 1948 was achieved not because the Israeli Army was more heroic but because the Arab armies were corrupt and the Arab world was divided. He became obsessed with the fear that a charismatic leader would modernize Arab education, their economies, and unite all the Arab states. He wrote on November 11, 1948:
"The Arab people have been beaten by us. Will they forget it quickly? Seven hundred thousand people beat 30 million. Will they forget this offense? It can be assumed that they have a sense of honor. We will make peace efforts, but two sides are necessary for peace. Is there any security that they will not want to take revenge? Let us recognize the truth: we won not because we performed wonders, but because the Arab army is rotten. Must this rottenness persist forever? The situation in the world beckons towards revenge: there are two blocs; there is fear of world war. This tempts anyone with a grievance. We will always require a superior defensive capability." (Simha Flapan, p. 238)
Iron Wall book:
- "This popular-heroic-moralistic version of the 1948 war has been used extensively in Israeli propaganda and is still taught in Israeli schools. It is a prime example of the use of a nationalistic version of history in the process of nation building. In a very real sense history is the propaganda of the victors, and the history of the 1948 war is no exception." (Iron Wall p. 34)
- "Despite all the political miscalculations and failures of those who planned the Sinai Campaign, it is their version that became firmly entrenched in the mind of the overwhelming majority of Israelis. The popular perception of the 1956 war in Israel is that it was a defensive war, a just war, a brilliantly executed war, and a war that achieved nearly all of its objectives. This version of the war was propagated not only by members of the Israeli defense establishment but by a host of sympathetic historians, journalists, and commentators. However deeply cherished, this version does not stand up to scrutiny in the light of the evidence now available. It is a striking example of the way in which history can be manipulated to serve nationalist ends. The official Israeli version of the 1956 war, like that of the 1948 war, is little more than the propaganda of the victor." (Iron Wall, p. 185)