1948 War

Known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation and to Palestinians as Al-Nakba (Arabic for "the catastrophe"). Fighting between Arab and Jewish populations in British Mandate Palestine began on November 30,1947 in response to the UN Partition Plan. Israel declared its independence on May 14,1948 and troops from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attacked the next day in support of the Palestinians. Israel (whose army was comprised of numerous pre-state Zionist militia groups, such as the Haganah and the Irgun) was overwhelmingly successful against the Arab countries’ armies and greatly expanded beyond the territory it would have received under the Partition Plan, taking control of nearly 60% of what had been earmarked for an Arab state. The war displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (most estimates fall in the 700,000-800,000 range), who either were expelled by pre-state militias/Israeli forces, or fled (intending to come back after the end of hostilities). Most of them went to neighboring countries, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. In January 1949, armistice agreements with four Arab states ended the hostilities, with the nascent state of Israel controlling the vast majority of British Mandate Palestine, Jordan controlling the West Bank, and Egypt controlling Gaza. No Palestinian state was created. See "A Country Study: Israel," U.S. Library of Congress,1988; and "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited," Benny Morris, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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