- Publisher Chaim Herzog, now President of Israel, has been involved in every war in Palestine and later Israel since he joined the Haganah as a teenager. In this invaluable book he tells the story of Israel's fight since 1947 to preserve her existence against the repeated attacks of neighboring Arab nations.
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About "Arab-Israeli War"
1 CONFRONTATION IN PALESTINE As Britain prepared to withdraw her forces in May 1948, and as the Jewish community in Palestine braced itself for the inevitable Arab onslaught, there emerged a factor that was to influence Israel's military considerations throughout the initial part of the War of Independence. The leadership of the British armed forces had expressed itself in unequivocably hostile terms about the struggle of the Jewish population. They controlled the country's major arteries and strongpoints; their ships patrolled the eastern Mediterranean and the coast; and the Royal Air Force controlled the skies above Palestine. Furthermore, their forces included two Arab elements, namely the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force. Both these units were to play no small part in favour of the Arab forces during the ensuing hostilities. Israeli forces and dispositions The most vulnerable aspect of the Jewish position lay in tenuous lines of communications between settlements, and it was inevitable that these would become the first targets for Arab attacks. The Jewish population was concentrated mainly in long strips of agricultural communities in eastern Galilee, across the valley of Jezreel and down the coastal plain to the south of Tel Aviv. In many towns and areas there was no clear dividing line between Jewish and Arab populations; the institutions and offices of government and major utilities such as electricity and oil refineries were common to both. Particularly vulnerable were communications with the isolated settlements of western Galilee and the Negev and the links between Jerusalem's 100,000 Jews and the coastal plain (not to mention those linking the outlying Jewish Jerusalem settlements with the bulk of the Jewish population in the city proper). Nor were the official frontiers secure. Controlled primarily by units of the Arab Legion and the Transjordan Frontier Force, the long land borders could not be closed effectively to the passage of Arab forces and military supplies into Palestine. The Legion numbered some 8,000 troops, while the Frontier Force was 3,000 strong; in addition, the British Palestine Police numbered some 4,000. Nominally, the British forces were responsible for law and order in the country, but both Jewish and Arab irregulars were by now operating freely within the areas under their respective control. Over the years, the Jewish armed forces or militia had grown, sometimes with the connivance and assistance of the British and sometimes 'underground', despite the British. At the outset, locally organized defence units had been established throughout the country in order to defend Jewish settlements, but these had gradually been amalgamated into a national organization, the 'Haganah'. The Arab revolt of 193639 brought into existence the field companies of the Haganah, which were the first units activated on a national country-wide basis, to counter the effects of the uprising and to protect the oil pipeline crossing the valley of Jezreel on its way from Iraq to a terminal at Haifa. They were inspired by a British Army Captain, Orde Wingate (later to become famous as leader of the 'Chindits' in Burma during the Second World War), who set up 'Special Night Squads' to fight against the Arab guerrillas bent on sabotaging the pipeline. There also existed auxiliary forces known as the 'Jewish Settlement Police', who assisted in the defence of Jewish settlements and the maintenance of the lines of communications between them. Numbering some 2,000 men, officered by the British and financed by the Jewish Agency, they were organized in sections and armed only with small-arms
Chaim Herzog, now President of Israel, has been involved in every war in Palestine and later Israel since he joined the Haganah as a teenager. In this invaluable book he tells the story of Israel's fight since 1947 to preserve her existence against the repeated attacks of neighboring Arab nations.