The 1948 Arab-Israeli War had a significant impact on the city of Jerusalem, which had been under British control since 1917. The war began on May 15, 1948, the day after the State of Israel declared its independence. The conflict was fought between the newly formed Israeli army and a coalition of Arab states that opposed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

The 1948 war left Jerusalem in ruins, with damaged buildings and rubble strewn across the city streets

Jerusalem was a key battleground in the war, with both sides fighting for control of the city. During the conflict, the Old City of Jerusalem was besieged by Arab forces, and Jewish residents were forced to flee their homes. When the war ended in 1949, Jerusalem was divided into two parts, with the western part of the city falling under Israeli control and the eastern part falling under Jordanian control. This division would remain in place until the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel captured the eastern part of the city and reunified Jerusalem under Israeli control.

The impact of the 1948 war on Jerusalem was profound, and its effects are still felt today. The division of the city into two parts created a physical and psychological barrier between Jewish and Arab residents, which has contributed to ongoing tensions and conflicts in the region. The war also resulted in the displacement of thousands of Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in refugee camps today.

Historical Context of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

The city of Jerusalem in 1948, showing the impact of war with destroyed buildings, rubble, and a sense of devastation

British Mandate Period

The British Mandate over Palestine was established in 1922 by the League of Nations. During this period, tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine increased. The British administration attempted to maintain order, but violence continued to escalate. The Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 was a particularly intense period of conflict.

UN Partition Plan

In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a partition plan for Palestine. The plan called for the creation of separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem as an international city. The Jewish community accepted the plan, but the Arab community rejected it.

Outbreak of Hostilities

On May 14, 1948, the day before the British Mandate was set to expire, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared the establishment of the State of Israel. Arab leaders denounced the declaration and vowed to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. On May 15, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded Palestine. The conflict that followed is known as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The impact of the 1948 war on Jerusalem was significant. The Old City of Jerusalem was captured by Jordanian forces, and the city was divided between Israel and Jordan. The war also resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who fled or were expelled from their homes. The conflict set the stage for decades of tension and violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jerusalem During the War

Ruined buildings, debris-strewn streets, and a sense of desolation in the once bustling city of Jerusalem during the aftermath of the 1948 war

Demographic Changes

Jerusalem’s population was predominantly Arab before the 1948 war. However, the war caused a significant shift in the city’s demographics. Many Palestinians fled the city, and Jewish immigrants from Europe and Arab countries moved in. By the end of the war, the Jewish population of Jerusalem had increased from around 100,000 to over 165,000, while the Arab population had decreased from around 70,000 to less than 20,000.

Strategic Importance

Jerusalem was a strategically important city during the 1948 war. It was the largest city in Palestine, and control over it was crucial for both sides. The city was also home to many religious sites that were important to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Key Battles for Jerusalem

The battle for Jerusalem was fought in several stages. In December 1947, Arab forces attacked Jewish neighborhoods in the city, but were repelled by Jewish militias. In May 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion captured the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish forces were unable to recapture the Old City until the Six-Day War in 1967.

During the war, Jerusalem was divided into two parts: the Israeli-controlled western part and the Jordanian-controlled eastern part. The division lasted until 1967, when Israel captured the eastern part of the city in the Six-Day War.

Overall, the 1948 war had a significant impact on Jerusalem. The city’s demographics changed, and its status as a holy city was cemented. The division of the city also had long-lasting effects, as it contributed to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Impact on Jewish Population

Jewish Quarters Siege

During the 1948 war, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was besieged by Arab forces. The Jewish population was cut off from the rest of the city and had to rely on airdrops for supplies. The siege lasted for several months, and when it ended, the Jewish Quarter was in ruins. The Arab forces destroyed many of the synagogues, homes, and other buildings in the area.

Access to Holy Sites

The 1948 war also had a significant impact on Jewish access to holy sites in Jerusalem. During the war, the Jordanian army took control of the Old City, including the Western Wall, which is the holiest site in Judaism. Jews were not allowed to visit the Western Wall or any other holy sites in the Old City for the next 19 years.

Population Displacement

The 1948 war also resulted in the displacement of many Jewish residents of Jerusalem. Some fled the city during the fighting, while others were forced to leave their homes after the war ended. Many of these displaced Jews settled in other parts of Israel, while others emigrated to other countries.

Overall, the 1948 war had a significant impact on the Jewish population of Jerusalem. The siege of the Jewish Quarter, the loss of access to holy sites, and the displacement of Jewish residents all contributed to the upheaval and instability in the city in the years following the war.

Impact on Arab Population

Arab Quarters Siege

As a result of the 1948 war, the Arab population of Jerusalem suffered greatly. Arab quarters of the city were placed under siege, with the Old City being the most affected area. The Arab population was cut off from the rest of the city, and basic necessities such as food and water became scarce. The siege lasted for several months, leading to the displacement of many Arab families.

Cultural and Religious Impact

The 1948 war also had a significant cultural and religious impact on the Arab population of Jerusalem. The city has a rich history and is considered a holy site for Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The war led to the destruction of many cultural and religious sites, including mosques, churches, and synagogues. The Arab population of Jerusalem lost access to many of these sites, which were either destroyed or taken over by the Israeli authorities.

Population Exodus

The 1948 war led to a significant exodus of the Arab population from Jerusalem. Many Arab families were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries. The exodus was partly due to the siege of Arab quarters, which made living conditions unbearable. The war also led to the displacement of many Arab families who were living in areas that were taken over by Israeli forces.

In conclusion, the 1948 war had a profound impact on the Arab population of Jerusalem. The siege of Arab quarters, destruction of cultural and religious sites, and population exodus led to significant suffering and displacement. The effects of the war are still felt today, and efforts to find a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must take into account the legacy of the 1948 war.

International Response and Ceasefire

UN Mediation Efforts

The United Nations played a significant role in mediating the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, particularly in relation to Jerusalem. The UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions aimed at achieving a ceasefire between the warring parties. The first of these, Resolution 50, was passed on June 29, 1948, calling for an immediate ceasefire and the establishment of a UN mediator to oversee negotiations between the parties.

The mediator, Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte, arrived in Palestine in July 1948 and proposed a plan that included the internationalization of Jerusalem. However, his plan was rejected by both the Israelis and the Arabs, and he was assassinated by Jewish extremists in September 1948.

Armistice Agreements

Despite the failure of the UN mediation efforts, a series of armistice agreements were eventually signed between Israel and the Arab states, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. These agreements led to the establishment of a demilitarized zone around Jerusalem, with the city itself divided between Israeli and Jordanian control.

International Recognition and Disputes

The 1948 war had a significant impact on the international community’s recognition of Israel and its claims to Jerusalem. While Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital, the international community did not recognize this claim and instead recognized Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.

The status of Jerusalem remained a contentious issue, with both Israel and Jordan claiming sovereignty over the city. In 1950, Jordan annexed East Jerusalem, including the Old City, which was home to many important religious sites. This move was not recognized by the international community, and Israel continued to claim sovereignty over the entire city.

In conclusion, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had a significant impact on the international community’s recognition of Israel and its claims to Jerusalem. Despite the UN’s efforts to mediate a solution, the city was ultimately divided between Israeli and Jordanian control, leading to ongoing disputes and tensions that continue to this day.

Long-Term Effects on Jerusalem

Political Division of the City

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War had a significant impact on the political division of Jerusalem. Before the war, Jerusalem was an international city, administered by the United Nations. However, after the war, the city was divided into two parts: West Jerusalem became part of Israel, while East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. The division of the city created a physical and political barrier between the Jewish and Arab populations.

Security and Access Issues

The war also had a profound impact on the security and access issues faced by the residents of Jerusalem. The city was divided by a wall, and access between the two parts was restricted. This division made it difficult for residents to move freely within the city, and it also created security risks for both the Jewish and Arab populations.

Urban Development and Growth

The 1948 war also had a significant impact on the urban development and growth of Jerusalem. The city’s population grew rapidly in the years following the war, as Jews from all over the world immigrated to Israel. This growth led to the construction of new neighborhoods and the expansion of existing ones. However, the division of the city also led to the neglect of certain areas, particularly in East Jerusalem, which suffered from a lack of investment and infrastructure.

In conclusion, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War had a profound and lasting impact on Jerusalem. The political division of the city, security and access issues, and urban development and growth were all affected by the war. These effects are still visible in the city today, and continue to shape the political, social, and economic landscape of Jerusalem.

Legacy and Historical Narratives

Israeli Perspective

In the Israeli perspective, the 1948 war is considered a defining moment in the country’s history. The war resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control. Israel views the war as a necessary step in ensuring the safety and security of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The Israeli narrative emphasizes the struggle for survival and the heroic efforts of Israeli soldiers to defend their homeland against overwhelming odds.

Palestinian Perspective

From the Palestinian perspective, the 1948 war is known as the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” The war resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and the loss of their land and property. Palestinians view the war as a tragedy that continues to shape their lives to this day. The Palestinian narrative emphasizes the injustice and suffering of the Palestinian people and their ongoing struggle for self-determination and the right of return.

Global Perspective

The 1948 war has had a significant impact on the global political landscape. The war marked the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has continued for over seven decades. The conflict has been a major source of tension in the Middle East and has had far-reaching implications for international relations. The global narrative emphasizes the need for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and the importance of respecting the rights and dignity of all people involved.

Overall, the legacy of the 1948 war on Jerusalem is complex and multifaceted. The conflict has had a profound impact on the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and has shaped the political and social landscape of the region. Understanding the different perspectives and narratives surrounding the war is crucial for achieving a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.