Eastern Mediterranean 1948: First Arab–Israeli War
When Israel declared independence in 1948, the surrounding Arab states immediately declared war and invaded it in an attempt to exterminate the newborn Jewish state. Despite attacks from all four land borders, the Israelis held out. In June both sides accepted a United Nations imposed truce.
15–21 May 1948 Battles of the Kinarot Valley▲
In May 1948 Syrian troops entered northeastern Palestine, attacking Israeli positions south of the Sea of Galilee. After several indecisive clashes, a stalemate was reached and Syria’s involvement in the Arab-Israeli War effectively came to an end.
15 May–10 Jun 1948 Egyptian Negev Offensive▲
In May 1948 Egyptian forces, accompanied by Saudi troops under Egyptian command, crossed into Palestine in two columns in an attempt to destroy the nascent State of Israel. The left column advanced through Gaza along the coast, eventually capturing Nitzanim in the face of heavy Israeli resistance. The right column pushed through the Negev to Beersheba but was also slowed by the Israeli defence.
15 May–18 Jul 1948 Battle for Jersualem▲
In May 1948 forces from Transjordan crossed the Jordan River into Palestine, establishing control over Arab positions in the West Bank in the war against Israel. By holding Latrun against persistent Israeli attacks, the Jordanians blockaded the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, giving them the upper hand in the struggle for the latter city. By July they were firmly in control of East Jerusalem, a position they would hold until 1967.
15 May–4 Jun 1948 Iraqi offensive in Samaria▲
In May 1948 Iraqi forces crossed into Palestine from Transjordan to attack Israeli settlements in northern Samaria. After Israel defeated Iraqi offensives on Gesher and Geulim, the Iraqis reverted to a defensive position around Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarm. In late May and early June they successfully repelled an Israeli counterattack on Jenin, but had little further military role in the war.
11 Jun–8 Jul 1948 First UN Truce in Palestine▲
On 29 May 1948 the United Nations declared a truce in the Arab–Israeli War, effective as of 11 June. The truce was overseen by UN mediator Folke Bernadotte but, despite an arms embargo, both sides continued to reinforce their positions. When both parties rejected Bernadotte’s new partition plan—calling for a Palestinian union between Israel and Transjordan—the war resumed.