WHEN the United Nations prepared its plan for the partition of Palestine in the autumn of 1947, it drew the demarcation line in such a manner that the Arabs to be included in the proposed Jewish state looked like being very nearly as numerous as the Jews. This indeed was the principal problem which seemed likely to face the Jewish state when it came into existence on May 15, 1948. How were the Jews to run a "Jewish state" in which nearly half the inhabitants would be Arabs?
When the British Mandate came to an end on May 15, guerrilla fighting between Jews and Arabs had already been going on for some months, as the British forces gradually dwindled. On that date the fighting became general.
Both before and after the end of the Mandate, the Israelis seized every possible opportunity to get rid of the Arabs still living in the area allotted to the Jewish state. In some cases, massacre was resorted to, as in the Arab village of Deir Yassin, where the women of the village were massacred and their bodies thrown down the wells--one morning when most of the men of the village were away at work. One such incident went a long way, and the inhabitants of neighboring villages panicked and fled.
In the course of the fighting, the Jews captured a number of Arab towns and villages, some of which were in the area allotted to the Arabs under the United Nations partition plan. In many such instances, the civil inhabitants were driven out immediately by Israeli troops or were given half an hour to leave. In some cases, all the means of transport were seized by the Israeli army, so that the inhabitants were obliged to abandon all their possessions in their homes.
In general, the Israelis were most ruthless in driving out the Arab civil population from places in the coastal plain or near Tel Aviv, then the Israeli capital. In northern Galilee, which they captured
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