Israel Declares Independence
The Israeli Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
It declared the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel, which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day.
The Cairo Agreement
The 1994 Cairo Agreement of 4 May 1994 was a follow-up treaty to the Oslo I Accord in which details of Palestinian autonomy were concluded.
The treaty provided for limited Palestinian self-rule in West Bank and Gaza Strip within five years. Pursuant to the Agreement, Israel promised to withdraw partly from Jericho in the West Bank and partly from the Gaza Strip, within three weeks from the date of the signing. The Palestinian Authority was created, of which Yasser Arafat became the first president on 5 July 1994.
Other parts of the agreement were the Protocol on Economic Relations (Paris Protocol) and the establishment of the Palestinian Civil Police Force. The Paris Protocol regulates the economic relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but in effect integrates the Palestinian economy into the Israeli one.
Operation Solomon was a covert Israeli military operation to airlift Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991. Non-stop flights of 35 Israeli aircrafts transported 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 36 hours.
In order to accommodate as many people as possible, airplanes were stripped of their seats and up to 1,122 passengers were boarded on a single plane – what set a world record for single-flight passenger load. Many of the immigrants came with nothing except their clothes and cooking instruments, and were met by ambulances, with 140 frail passengers receiving medical care on the tarmac. Several pregnant women gave birth on the plane, and they and their babies were rushed to the hospital.
The Ma’alot Massacre
The Ma’alot massacre occurred On 15 May 1974 and involved a two-day hostage-taking of 115 people which ended in the deaths of over 25 hostages. It began when three armed members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) entered Israel from Lebanon. Soon afterwards they attacked a van, killing two Israeli Arab women while injuring a third and entered an apartment building in the town of Ma’alot, where they killed a couple and their four-year-old son. From there, they headed for the Netiv Meir Elementary School, where they took more than 115 people (including 105 children) hostage. The hostage-takers soon issued demands for the release of 23 Palestinian militants from Israeli prisons, or else they would kill the children.
On the second day a unit of the Golani Brigade stormed the building, and during the takeover the hostage-takers killed children with grenades and automatic weapons. Ultimately, 25 hostages, including 22 children, were killed and 68 more were injured.
The Death of Eli Cohen – an Israeli Spy in Syria
Eliahu Ben Shaoul (16 December 1924 – 18 May 1965) best known for his espionage work in 1961 – 1965 in Syria, where he developed close relationships with the political and military hierarchy there and became the Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defense. Syrian counter-intelligence authorities eventually uncovered a spy conspiracy, convicted Cohen under pre-war ‘martial law’ to death penalty in 1965. On the day of his execution, Cohen’s ‘last wish’ to see a Rabbi was respected by the prison authorities, and so, on 18 May 1965, he was accompanied by the old Chief Rabbi of Syria to the Marjeh Square, where he was publicly hanged.
The intelligence he gathered is claimed to have been an important factor in Israel’s success in the Six Day War.
Foundation of IDF
The IDF was founded following the establishment of the State of Israel, after Defense Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion issued an order on 26 May 1948. The order called for the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, and the abolishment of all other Jewish armed forces. Although Ben-Gurion had no legal authority to issue such an order, the order was made legal by the cabinet on 31 May.
The two other Jewish underground organizations, Irgun and Lehi, agreed to join the IDF if they would be able to form independent units and agreed not to make independent arms purchases. The new army organized itself during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War when neighboring Arab states attacked Israel. Twelve infantry and armored brigades formed and after the war, some of the brigades were converted to reserve units, and others were disbanded. Directorates and corps were created from corps and services in the Haganah, and this basic structure in the IDF still exists today.
The White Paper of 1939
The White Paper of 1939 was a policy paper issued by the British government on May 17, 1939 under Neville Chamberlain in which, among several key provisions, the idea of partitioning Palestine was abandoned.
The paper also provided for creating an independent Palestine to be governed by Palestinian Arabs and Jews in proportion to their numbers in the population by 1939 Further: a limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the five-year period 1940-1944; after 1944 the further immigration of Jews to Palestine would depend on permission of the Arab majority and restrictions were placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs.
The Paper, which showed a change of the British policy since the Balfur Declaration, provoked angry reactions and protests in the community and the Zionist movement – The Yeshuv declared a general strike and demonstrations and protest marches took place throughout the country.
The Palmach’s Establishment
The Palmach was established on 15 May 1941 and was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate for Palestine. By the outbreak of the Israeli War for Independence in 1948 it consisted of over 2,000 men and women in three fighting brigades and auxiliary aerial, naval and intelligence units. With the creation of Israel’s army, the three Palmach brigades were disbanded, when many of the senior Palmach officers resigned in 1950.
The Palmach contributed significantly to Israeli culture and ethos, well beyond its military contribution. Its members formed the backbone of the Israel Defense Forces high command for many years, and were prominent in Israeli politics, literature and culture.
Kfar Etzion Massacre
The Kfar Etzion massacre was a massacre of Jews that took place after a two-day battle in which Jewish Kibbutz residents and Haganah militia defended Kfar Etzion from a combined force of the Arab Legion and local Arab men on May 13, 1948, the day before the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Of the 129 Haganah fighters and Jewish kibbutzniks who died during the defense of the settlement, Martin Gilbert states that fifteen were murdered on surrendering. The surrendering Jewish residents and fighters are said to have been assembled in a courtyard, only to be suddenly fired upon; it is said that many died on the spot, while most of those who managed to flee were hunted down and killed.
Four prisoners survived the massacre and were transferred to Transjordan. Immediately following the surrender on May 13, the kibbutz was looted and razed to the ground. The members of the three other kibbutzim of the Gush Etzion surrendered the next day and were taken as POWs to Jordan.
The bodies of the victims were left unburied until, one and a half years later, the Jordanian government allowed the collection of the remains, which were then interred at Mount Herzl.
By: Inbar Bar-Ner.