Monday, January 05, 2015

Israel was badly outnumbered during the 48 war, right?

 There are lots of myths surrounding the establishment of the state of Israel, and in the fullness of time I hope to address them all. Here's the next one in our series. Though the Society of DovBear Haters will disbelieve or ignore the following statement let me make it anyway: I'm glad Israel was established. I am not necessarily opposed to any of the acts described below. I am only trying to set the record straight regarding what actually occurred. 

CLAIM: In 1948 a tiny group of vastly outnumbered and ill-equipped Jews fought off the massed strength of the combined armies of several neighboring Arab states. 
Let's leave aside the fact that the Jews didn't not return to Israel in the 40s; also, lets not attempt the messy business of trying to adjudicate "who started it."

Instead let's talk numbers:

1) The size of the Israeli army is overstated. At its peak there were maybe 110,000 Israeli soldiers. Not half a million.

2) Only four of the seven members of the Arab League invaded Israel and attacked Jewish settlements immediately after the mandate ended. (Israel, on the other hand, began attacking Arab settlements in November; also, between April 1 and May 15, the day of the invasion, Israel conducted eight military operations outside of the area that the UN had made a Jewish state. But like I said, deciding "who started" is messy).

The four invading armies were:
  • Egypt, with 20,000 troops
  • Iraq, with 18,000 troops
  • Syria, with 5,000 troops
  • TransJordan, with 10,000 troops. These were the only troops that had any real training or went to war with a reasonable goal, a goal that they achieved (capturing the West Bank) 
Additionally, Yemen, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia combined to send another 2000 men (volunteers not army members) , and the Arab Liberation Army sent another 5,000, or so.

Grand Total for the Arabs: Somewhere around 68,000 soldiers.

Now, it is true that when the war started in May, Israel was vastly outnumbered. On May 15, there were only about 30,000 Israeli soldiers and they faced a combined, uncoordinated, largely untrained force of more than 65,000.

But during the first truce (June 11 - July 8) the Israeli army increased its manpower from approximately 30,000 men to almost 65,000  due to mobilization and immigration into Israel.  By the end of the second truce (July 18-October 15) Israel has almost 95,000 men in the field, and far outnumbered the Arabs. During the last phase of the war (October 15 - March 10) Israel has as many as 110,000 men in the field.

See: Jews only attacked military targets, and called in warnings first. Right?

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