Events Surrounding the Independence of the State of Israel (1947-1949)
The period ranging from 1947 to 1949 is regarded as the crucial one in the history of the Middle East. This period witnessed the formation of the State of Israel and beginning of the Palestinian refugee problem. The events and attacks conducted during the 1948 War of Independence exposed Israel’s ulterior motives to the world and the entire region was jeopardized because of that. By the end of this period, the United Nations accepted the rights of Palestinians to return to their homeland through the adoption of UN Resolution 194. But it did very little for the poor Palestinians who were facing forced expulsion and massive bloodshed on the hands of Israeli forces. The major events surrounding the formation of the state of Israel from 1947 to 1949 are further discussed here:
- The British Mandate expired on November 29, 1947 and the UN General Assembly adopted the Partition Plan that divided Palestine into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state.
- After the British withdrew from Palestine, the Jewish State of Israel was proclaimed on May 15, 1948. Some of the Arab States, who had already rejected the UN partition plan, declared war on Israel. Egypt, Syria and Jordan played a crucial role in this war.
- The Palestinian exodus (or Nakba) became one of the biggest human tragedies that occurred during 1947-1949. Nakba means disaster and it refers to events where approximately 900,000 Palestinian Arabs migrated from their land. Famous historian Benny Morris has identified as many as 34 Arab communities whose residents were forcefully expelled during Nakba.
- There are enough evidences that Israel used military force and other course of conduct that compelled a large population of Arab Palestinians to leave their homeland. The Jewish militias, Haganah, Stern Gang and Irgun, were engaged in many inhuman practices that led to forcible expulsions of Palestinians. The Lydda/Ramle death march in July 1948 is the most notorious one where 50,000 residents were forcefully expelled by Israeli forces. Besides this, Israeli military also used method of psychological warfare and economic warfare in order to terrorize the Arab population and compel them to leave.
- Apart from its strategic tactics, Israel conducted various terror attacks on Palestinians to deteriorate the situation. Many instances had been reported between 1947-49 where Israeli military force entered Arab villages and massacred the civilians. The massacre of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948 was the most shocking act of terrorism in which an entire village was slaughtered by Jewish militants.
The events of 1947-1949 clearly reveal that Israel used military attacks and various other tactics that not only led to the mass expulsion of native Palestinians and gave way to refugee problem but it also marked the beginning of troublous times in the Middle East. Despite Israel’s repeated claims that Palestinians attacked them and then fled voluntarily, it was clear to they were evicted by force as a part of Zionist agenda of ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Historians have argued that if that was not the case then why did the new Israeli government declared on June 16, 1948 that it would not allow the Palestinian Arabs to return to their homeland. The fact that Israel declared this just after a month of its “independence” and also took control of the land owned by these Arabs is enough to establish that Israel was indeed aiming to capture the Palestinian land from day one.
The Jewish land ownership in Palestine saw a massive increase from 6% to 77% before and after the eviction of the Palestinians, which alarmed international community to a great extent. Considering this, the UN adapted a resolution on December 11, 1949 which proclaimed the Palestinian right of return.