The 1948 War of Independence, which took place between November 1947 and July 1949, was started by a 6 month civil war between Jewish and Arab militias at the end of the British mandate of Palestine. This turned into a regular war after the declaration of Independence and the intervention of several Arab armies. The five surrounding Arab nations i. e. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon with support from Saudi Arabia launched a coordinated attack on Israel from the land, sea and air. These countries were urged on by their leaders who assured them that they could return after all Jews had been driven out (Eisenberg 147).
The Jews were, however, able to defeat Arab armies resulting in an armistice that was signed in 1949 signaling an end to the conflict. The Armistice agreements were signed between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. They established the armistice lines between Israel and the West Bank also known as the Green line. The Sinai War of 29th October 1956 involved a military attack on Egypt by Britain, France and Israel. Israeli troops invaded Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and quickly overcame opposition as they raced for the Suez Canal.
Britain and France offered to temporarily occupy the Canal Zone and suggested a 10 mile buffer on either side to separate Egyptian forces from the Israelis. Egyptian President Nasser objected and on 31st October 1956, Egypt was attacked by Britain and France. Consequently, the Soviet Union threatened to attack on Egypt’s behalf but it took the intervention of U. S. President Eisenhower to get them to agree to a ceasefire. The war itself lasted for only a week with invading forces withdrawn within a month. The Six Day War took place in June 1967. It was fought between June 5th and June 10th.
The war was against Syria, Jordan and Egypt as Israel believed that it was only a matter of time before the three Arab states attacked her. After the 1956 crisis, the United Nations (UN) had established a military presence in the Middle East but in 1967, Egypt made it clear that the UN was unwanted in the region. Israel viewed this as a sign that Egypt was preparing to attack and rather than wait to be hit, they launched a hugely successful military campaign against its perceived enemies. Following the war, the territory held by Israel expanded significantly and it now included the West Bank, Sinai, the Golan Heights and Gaza.
The War of Attrition was a limited war that was fought between Israel and Egypt from 1967 to 1970. This war was initiated by Egyptians as a way of recapturing the Sinai from the Israelis who had been in control of the territory since the Six Day War. The Egyptian President believed that Israel would be unable to endure the economic burden and casualties of war. To this end, he ordered calibrated attacks on Israel which would not provoke an all out Israeli war response. The hostilities ended when a ceasefire was signed between the countries in 1970 with frontiers remaining in the same place as when the war began.
The Yom Kippur War of 1973 is so called as it began on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar. This war is variously referred to as the October War. It started with a surprise Arab attack on Israel knowing that the military would be participating in religious celebrations. Israeli forces were initially overwhelmed but by October 8th, bolstered by reserves, they counter attacked in the Sinai. They managed to push back the Egyptian military. The United Nations organized a ceasefire on October 24th and in September 1975, Egypt and Israel signed an interim agreement.
Still, there were no significant territorial changes. The First Lebanon War began on 6th June 1982 when Israeli forces invaded Southern Lebanon. The government launched military operations after an assassination attempt against Israel’s ambassador to the U. K. by a mercenary organization opposed to the PLO. Israel then attacked the PLO as well as Syrian and Muslim Lebanese forces before they occupied Southern Lebanon. The war ended after three years in 1985 when Israel stabilized in the safety strap lengthwise along the border.
The Second Lebanon War was sparked when Hezbollah guerillas ambushed an Israeli patrol on the border on July 12 2006. Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared his intention to free the captives and remove Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon forever and thus began an ultimately inconclusive month long war. During the short conflict, Israel lost 119 soldiers and 43 civilians whilst Lebanese civilians bore the brunt of the war with more than 1000 killed. The UN Security Council unanimously approved UN Resolution 1701 on 11th August 2006 to end hostilities.
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