Skip directly to content

Civil War and the Destruction of the Palestinian Community, 1947-1948

Introduction: Civil War and the Destruction of the Palestinian Community: November 1947 - May 1948

THE Palestine problem was now rapidly approaching its catastrophic climax. On 29 November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, and a special international regime (corpus separatum) for Jerusalem and its environs; an economic union would be set up between the Jewish and Palestinian states. The Palestinians and other Arabs were as stunned as the Zionists and their sympathizers were jubilant. The very reactions of each side belied the claim that partition was a compromise solution.

The British Entrapped

Barbed wire and other barriers put up by the British around their administrative compound (left) in central Jerusalem, for protection against acts of terrorism by Zionist groups, fall 1947.

The Importation of a Military Industry

As early as 1945, David Ben-Gurion (then chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive) arranged on a visit to the United States for the purchase of entire military plants, which were being sold ostensibly as scrap at the end of the war.

Cairo Street Rejects Palestine Partition

On 29 November 1947 a resolution recommending the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state was virtually forced through the United Nations General Assembly by the United States. It was received with shock and consternation by the entire Arab and Muslim worlds.

UN Partition Plan Facilitates Civil War

The UN partition recommendation (a resolution by the UN General Assembly is not binding) precipitated a series of Jewish-Palestinian clashes. These clashes escalated into total civil war during the remaining months of the British Mandate, which ended on 15 May 1948.

Zionist Terrorism

A bomb thrown from a passing taxi at a bus in the Palestinian residential quarter outside Herod's Gate, Jerusalem, on 29 December 1947 killed seventeen Palestinian civilians.

Zionism's Child Casualties

Palestinian policeman carrying a child victim of the incident recorded in 391.

Semiramis in Ruins

Ruins of the Semiramis Hotel, located in the Palestinian residential quarter of Bak'a in West Jerusalem.

Take Cover!

Palestinian civilians (and British constables) taking cover from sniper fire, Jerusalem, February 1948.

'Palestine Post' Explosion

Adopting the tactics introduced by Zionist terrorists, the Palestinian resistance struck back with booby-trapped vehicles against Jewish targets: an explosion at the offices of the Palestine Post in Jerusalem killed twenty Jewish civilians on 1 February 1948.

Explosion along Ben Yehuda Street

Adopting the tactics introduced by Zionist terrorists, the Palestinian resistance struck back with booby-trapped vehicles against Jewish targets: fifty-seven Jewish civilians died in an explosion on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem on 22 February 1948.

Attack on Jewish Agency Headquarters

Adopting the tactics introduced by Zionist terrorists, the Palestinian resistance struck back with booby-trapped vehicles against Jewish targets: twelve Jewish civilians were killed at the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem on 11 March 1948.

Fawzi al-Qawukji

Both sides received volunteers from outside the country. The Zionists had two organizations for the purpose of recruiting such volunteers: GAHAL and MAHAL. GAHAL trained some twenty thousand volunteers at various European bases and transported them to Palestine.

Arab Liberation Army (ALA) Members

Both sides received volunteers from outside the country. The Zionists had two organizations for the purpose of recruiting such volunteers: GAHAL and MAHAL. GAHAL trained some twenty thousand volunteers at various European bases and transported them to Palestine.

The Battle for the Roads (1)

Photographs 405, 406, and 407, taken in the Jerusalem district in the spring of 1948, show an armored truck carrying fortification materials, an armored per

The Battle for the Roads (2)

Photographs 405, 406, and 407, taken in the Jerusalem district in the spring of 1948, show an armored truck carrying fortification materials, an armored per

The Battle for the Roads (3)

Photographs 405, 406, and 407, taken in the Jerusalem district in the spring of 1948, show an armored truck carrying fortification materials, an armored per

Hebron Ambush

In 408, Palestinian irregulars deploy to set up an ambush, Hebron district, spring 1948.

Castel Counterattack

On the night of April 7-8, under the command of Abd aI-Qadir al-Husseini (see 253, 396), Palestinian irregulars counteratt

Castel Recaptured

On April 8 the Palestinians recaptured Castel, but Abd aI-Qadir was killed while leading his men. This is a photograph of his funeral on April 9 at the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Deir Yassin

While the Haganah was battling to recapture Castel on 9 April 1948, eighty men of the Irgun, on orders from Menachem Begin, attacked the tiny village of Deir Yassin (shown here) in the western suburbs of Jerusalem, about three miles east of Castel and next to the Jewish neighborhood of Givat Sha

Altogether nearly two hundred Palestinian villages were attacked and conquered by Zionist forces before the end of the Mandate on 15 May 1948. Many of the inhabitants suffered injury or death, and all were expelled or fled in fear from their homes.

Irgun Terrorism

Irgunists moving through holes blasted in Palestinian houses.

Fleeing Jaffa

With no proper military organization or civil defense, the morale of the Palestinian civilian population broke under the twin offensives by the Haganah and the Irgun. Here women and children salvage some belongings as they flee the city.

Into the Sea

Palestinians driven into the sea at Jaffa Harbor, late April 1948. With the land routes cut off by the Haganah, tens of thousands of the citizens of Jaffa and neighboring villages fled by boat to Gaza and Egypt; scores were drowned.

Acre's Siege

Haganah forces laying siege to Acre, ca. 16 May 1948. Acre also lay outside the Jewish state as envisioned in the UN partition recommendation.

Acre's Fall

Civilian inhabitants of Acre being herded into prison after the fall of the town, 17 May 1948.

Left in Ruins

Ruins of the village of Sumeiriya, just north of Acre, typifying the fate of nearly four hundred Palestinian villages by the end of 1948.

Haganah in Jerusalem

A Haganah military column arrives in Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, April 1948, in accordance with Plan Dalet (see 409, 410, 411).

Night Fighting

Night fighting in Jerusalem, early May 1948.

Scenes of Destruction (1)

Scenes of devastation in the Palestinian residential quarters of East Jerusalem, April to early May 1948:  Ruins of a house in the Sa'ad Sa'id quarter.

Scenes of Destruction (2)

Scenes of devastation in the Palestinian residential quarters of East Jerusalem, April to early May 1948:  Ruins of the Musrara quarter.

Scenes of Destruction (3)

Scenes of devastation in the Palestinian residential quarters of East Jerusalem, April to early May 1948: ruins of the commercial center outside Jaffa Gate.

Count Bernadotte

On 13 May 1948 Count Folke Bernadotte, member of the Swedish royal family and International Red Cross representative in Europe during the later stages of World War II, was appointed by the United Nations as a mediator to seek a settlement of the Palestine conflict.

Abandoning Ship

General Sir Alan Cunningham, British high commissioner, inspecting a guard of honor as he left his official residence in Jerusalem for the last time, 14 May 1948. The British Mandate for Palestine came to its ignominious end on 15 May 1948.

Nahr al-Barid

A typical Palestinian refugee camp at Nahr al-Barid in northern Lebanon, winter 1948.