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Terrorism in Israel´s Military Strategy Against Arab Nations during the 1948, '56, '67, '73 and '82 wars 

 

Since the proclamation of the Jewish State in Palestine on 14 May 1948, the Arabs and Israelis have been in a state of constant conflict, with Israel maintaining the upper hand throughout. In all their wars with Israel, the Arabs have failed to achieve their declared objective: the preservation of the remaining Palestinian land and the restoration of the territories captured by the Israelis. Throughout these wars, the Jews have practiced the most heinous acts of terrorism, including the killing and/or torturing of the Palestinians and the prisoners of war captured by the Israelis. It must also be mentioned that Israel is a military State that cannot survive without its army and its soldiers, and so it has devoted the greater part of its efforts, capabilities and resources to its military establishment as a top priority. In addition, Israel is an entity that has been on a continuous quest for power. It lives in an incessant state of paranoia driving it to maintain superiority by intimidating and terrorizing its enemies, so as not to leave room for them to even think of touching the Jewish entity. Therefore, Israel may be described as a huge military garrison always trying to prove its identity by committing murder and bloodshed, demolishing houses and driving people out of their homes and terrorizing children. Even before 1948, Israel had always had a bloody history.

While this paper is an attempt to trace the bloody history of Zionism through the Arab-Israeli wars, only the milestones will be highlighted along the history of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Children of Zion, to the exclusion of those other events that were less violent. The aim here is to illustrate Zionist terrorism in all the stages of the Palestinian conflict with the occupying enemy.

 

The 1948 War

When the Palestinians began to lose control as a result of the absence of a leadership that would unite them together and concert their struggle for facing up to the Zionist ambitions in Palestine, and as Britain was adamant on implementing the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and had therefore adopted policies that helped the Jews in their quest for possession of Palestinian land (which resulted in Palestinian upheavals against such a state of affairs), Britain proposed a project in 1937 for partitioning Palestine into two States: one Jewish and the other Arab. The proposal also provided that Jerusalem and Haifa would stay under the control of the state of mandate. However, it was rejected by both the Arabs and the Jews (1).

In 1939, Britain published the White Book, in which it announced that “its obligations towards Jews and British national interests do not warrant the continuation of the British Government in developing the Jewish homeland to any point further than that it has reached, as developing that homeland is no longer possible without the use of unjustifiable force (2).” The outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945) and Britain’s preoccupation with the war effort enabled the Jews to drive their roots deeper into Palestine, and it became evident that the Zionist project for establishing a Jewish homeland on the land of Palestine was on its way to completion.

The Palestinian Cause took a prominent place on the agenda of Arab States during the preparations for establishing the Arab League, and the Arab leaders who met in late 1944 in Alexandria, Egypt, agreed that Palestine was an essential part of the Arab countries. The Arab League Charter affirmed in a special annex that Palestine was an independent Arab State. A meeting was held from 16 to 19 September 1947 in Sofer, Lebanon, to discuss the Palestinian Cause. During that meeting, a resolution was adopted for creating a permanent technical committee, based in Cairo, to examine the defence needs of Palestine. Another resolution was made for allocating one million Egyptian pounds in aid to the Palestinian Arabs. The Arab League Council met once again on 7 October 1947, with the heads of State of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq present, and adopted a resolution for providing the necessary assistance for the Arabs of Palestine to enable them to defend themselves. The resolution provided for the creation of an ad hoc committee to manage funds collected for that purpose. It also stipulated that “Arab States shall take military precautions along the borders of Palestine, and those countries adjacent to Palestine shall facilitate the participation of other countries that have no borders with it and cooperate in accomplishing this duty by mutual agreement (3).” During that meeting, a resolution was adopted for forming a military committee under the chairmanship of Major General Ismail Safwat to recruit and train Arab volunteers and draw up military plans for saving Palestine. That committee, which was based in Damascus, Syria, established a camp for training volunteers at Qatana near the Syrian capital.

On 26 November 1947, the United Nations adopted a resolution for the partitioning of Palestine. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the same day that terminated the British mandate in Palestine as of 1 May 1948. Subsequently, the Arab League Political Committee met from 12 to 18 December 1947 and adopted resolutions stating the following:

1. Arab governments and peoples shall stand by the people of Palestine until the independence of their country is achieved.

2. The partitioning resolution is rejected.

3. Battle shall be waged for preventing the partitioning of Palestine.

4. The Arab League stresses the principles of the United Nations and their implications on the Holy Land, where justice and equality among all races should prevail.

The Arab League Political Committee held another meeting in Cairo on 10 April 1948, but nothing of import came of it (4).

As a result of the reluctance of some Arab governments to take action on the Palestinian Cause, several Arab capitals witnessed protests that threw their governments into a panic. A general strike was announced in Beirut on 16 February 1948 in a bid to force the Lebanese Government into military intervention. Another general strike was announced in Damascus a week later when news of the Zionists’ occupation of Haifa reached Syria. Students went on a hunger strike in Baghdad to urge the Iraqi Army to march on Palestine (5).

A meeting was held in Amman on 23 April 1948 that was attended by a number of Arab prime ministers and ministers. The conferees adopted a resolution that Arab regular armies would enter Palestine if the mandate was ended. They assigned the task of implementing that resolution to the chiefs of staff of the Arab armies (6).

The Arab League Political Committee met in Cairo on 24 April 1948 and approved the resolutions of the Amman meeting.

In implementation of the resolutions, Arab States decided on 15 May 1948 to mobilize their armies and prepare them for entering and achieving the independence of Palestine. The Holy Struggle Forces, which were formed by the Supreme Arab Body with assistance from Arab States, and the Salvation Army, which comprised Arab volunteers led by Fawzi Al Kawikji, also prepared their forces to join the Arab States. All the armies were placed under the command of King Abdullah Bin al-Hussein, the then-monarch of East Jordan.

In another meeting that was held in Baghdad on 9 May 1948, it was decided to establish a general command for the Arab regular armies, and Major General Noor Eddin Mahmoud was appointed commander. The Arab League Political Committee approved that appointment in a meeting that they held in Damascus on 11 May 1948 (7).

The Military situation before the 1948 War

The military situation was not reassuring to either the Arabs or the Palestinians before the war for they were not as prepared for it as well as they should have been for a battle of such magnitude, but were rather preoccupied by concerns that were completely unrelated to the preparations for driving the occupying Jews out of the land of Palestine. Furthermore, the Arabs had not yet acquired a sense of national security or the sense of importance of defending their personal and public interests against any foreign aggression. That state of affairs had also been essentially caused by the fact that the countries involved were under the influence of some Western countries, upon which they depended for managing their domestic, as well as foreign, affairs.

The Jews, on the other hand, had begun their preparations for repelling any Arab attacks and building their State on the soil of Palestine from the time they had started to migrate to Palestine and settle there. Once they arrived in Palestine, they found in British Mandate Forces, which provided them with protection, facilities and all sorts of support, the best help in building their defensive and military capabilities.

A. The Arab and Palestinian Military Situation

1. The Holy Struggle Forces

Following the Partition resolution, the Supreme Arab Body formed the Holy Struggle Forces and named Abdel Kadir al-Husseini their commander on 22 December 1947. Kamil Oraikat, a former Palestinian police officer, was appointed deputy commander-in-chief, while Kassim al-Rimawi was appointed secretary and Dawood al-Husseini inspector general. The Body undertook the expenses of these forces, which had their general headquarters at the village of Bir Zeit (8).

The Holy Struggle Forces lacked training, discipline and order as a result of the inability of their command to organize and develop them into a combat-effective force. In terms of weapons, the members of these forces carried obsolete light arms of different makes and did not have proper supporting equipment (9).

These forces comprised conscripts, who constituted the mobile force, and the “Mujahidin Murabitin,” or the defenders of Palestinian towns and villages (10).

2. Local Palestinian Garrisons

Local Palestinian fighters were organized into small combat groups, each led by a local commander who depended on the support of neighbouring villages for the success of operations of his unit. These groups lacked military organization and training. Local defensive structures were established in towns to guard and protect Arab quarters, while a “national guard” supervised by the local national committees was created in large cities. Like the other structures, these forces lacked military organization and training. However, despite their poor capabilities and lack of weapons and ammunition of these local forces, they bore the brunt of the fighting against the Jews at that time.

3. The Salvation Army

As already mentioned, a military committee was formed for recruiting, training and equipping volunteers after the meetings of the Arab League Council and Political Committee. The first thing that the Military Committee did was to call on Arab youths who could carry arms to enlist in the Arab liberation army that it named “The Salvation Army.” The Salvation Army’s commander-in-chief was Major General Ismail Safwat from Iraq, with Colonel Mahmoud al-Hindi from Syria as assistant for administration and Lieutenant Colonel Shawkat Shukair from Syria and Captain Wassfi al-Tall from Jordan as assistants for operations. Colonel Taha al-Hashimi from Iraq was appointed inspector general of the Salvation Army and was in charge of organizing and training the recruits (11).

Recruitment for the Salvation Army began on a large scale at the beginning of 1948. Volunteers for service were of varying backgrounds and included former officers and enlisted men, students, low-ranking government officials, farmers and labourers. But they had one thing in common: a fierce patriotic enthusiasm. Units were formed in certain areas from which they derived their names, such as the Aleppo Company (the Lions of al-Shahbaa), the Lebanese Company, the Two Euphrates Company, Jebel al-Arab Regiment, the Homa Detachment, the Circassian Detachment, the Adlabi Detachment, the Jordanian Detachment, the Bedouin Detachment and the Yugoslav Detachment (12).

The volunteers were trained at the Qatana Barracks in the vicinity of Damascus, but the training they received was rudimentary and not enough to prepare the troops for any real combat operations. Some members of these forces were armed with a variety of weapons, many of which were obsolete or unoperational, while others had no equipment at all (13). Due to the inhomogeneous nature of the volunteers, havoc and disorder prevailed in the Salvation Army units to the extent that soldiers who did not like the service in a certain regiment or company would simply desert it and enlist in another unit (14).

4. Irregular Arab Volunteers

Detachments and companies were formed of Arab volunteers to partake in the defence of the Arab and Islamic identity of Palestine in response to the call for jihad (holy struggle). Some of the volunteers became members of the Salvation Army, while others joined the Holy Struggle Forces, and still others operated independently. Again, these detachments and companies were named after the cities, countries or regions from which the majority of their members originated (15). The Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood contributed a full share of jihad for the land of Palestine. Their brothers in Egypt shared the honour of the holy struggle, as Sheikh Hassan al-Banna sent a cable message to the Arab League Council on 9 October 1947 saying that he was ready to dispatch an initial batch of 10,000 mujahidin to Palestine to be followed by others. However, the tight restrictions imposed on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian Government made their contribution a limited one. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, in its turn, also joined their brothers in the defence of the land of Muslim Palestine. They established a committee for collecting donations and formed a company of Muslim Brotherhood members from Amman and its environs that comprised some 120 mujahidin (17).

 

The Arab and Zionist strategies in the 1948 War

A. The Arab strategy

At that time, the Arabs did not have a specific strategy with clear-cut features with regard to the Palestinian Cause or how to stop the Zionist march on Palestine. The differences among Arab States were at their worst at that time. Former British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hume described the Arab strategy at that time by saying, “As the Arabs have always been without a strategy, there was no clarity or feeling about what they should do on the land that they call Palestine (19).”

Arab armies were not ready to go into a conventional war with the Zionist forces, for after the Egyptian House of Representatives voted for Egypt’s participation in the Palestine War, Ahmad Sedki Pasha commented on the decision to go to war by wondering, “Is our Army ready?” His exclamation caused quite a few guffaws in the Parliament, and the then-Prime Minister, Mahmoud Fahmy al-Nokrashi Pasha, countered by saying, “I take full responsibility for the army’s participation in the war.” There is no better evidence to show that the Egyptian Army was not prepared for war than the warning delivered by Colonel Mohammad Nagib¾commander of the force that was preparing to march to the front¾to his superiors that only four battalions from the two brigades staged at al-Arish were ready for combat. Nagib’s warnings fell on the deaf ears of Major General Ahmad Ali al-Nawawi, resulting in no real combat or actual resistance (20). King Abdullah of Jordan, who was commander-in-chief of the Arab armies, said in his memoirs about the 1948 War that he had been unable to get permission to visit the positions of the Egyptian forces. He said, “I went to Egypt at that stage of the Armistice and presented what I knew. I asked al-Nokrashi Pasha to arrange a visit for me to the Egyptian High Command in Palestine in my capacity as commander-in-chief, and he pointed out that such a visit would not be appropriate as His Majesty (meaning Egyptian King Farouk) had not visited the front himself (21).” King Abdullah also indicated that the Arab intervention in Palestine in 1948 was just a pretence. He said, “Then there was the Arab military pretence and the haphazard decisions for committing units whose commanders had declared as insufficient. The unified command was just a name that did not exist in reality, and the commander-in-chief was not allowed to inspect the forces that were supposed to be under his command. Then there was the entry of Arab armies into Palestine, where they stood perplexed and unready, until the Armistice was signed in Rhodes. Everything after that is known to all (22).”

The Iraqi army did not fare any better than its Egyptian counterpart. It went to Palestine without maps (23). Ghallub Pasha, who had been imposing his control on the command of the Arab army at that time, did not intend to issue orders to his men to target Tel Aviv or navy ships at sea. He gave strict orders to his British officers to stay within the areas allocated to Arabs behind the 1947 line of partitioning. His plan was to leave his men positioned along the line bordering the harsh mountainous terrain that overlooked the coast, only moving them whenever there was a need for stopping any Jewish elements that tried to penetrate the mountain passes (24).

The Arabs were not fully prepared for such a confrontation. The then-secretary general of the Arab League said after the end of the British mandate in Palestine that he “did not expect Arab States to commit themselves to fighting (25).” There is no better evidence of the erroneous assessment of the situation by political and military leaders of Arab States than the position of Arab armies, which were committed to a war that they would certainly lose and for which they had not been prepared (26).

 

B. The Zionist Strategy

The 1948 War came at a time when Zionist terrorist elements had stepped up their criminal activities and the Zionist military preparations had reached their zenith in terms of procuring weapons and mobilizing personnel. The Zionist terrorist forces were ready for the Arab intervention in Palestine, for they had laid down a specific strategy for facing that critical time (27).

 

The Zionist strategy depended on the following:

1. Adopting a policy for building settlements in remote areas and remaining in place at whatever price, as such settlements would be used for easing at least part of the Arab pressure on Jewish centres by using them as staging areas for guerrila attacks behind enemy lines.

2. Avoiding any direct clashes with British forces so as not to impede the plans for their evacuation. The objective of military operations was to undermine the position of the British forces so as to make them feel insecure in addition to convincing them that Britain would not be able to keep Palestine as a safe and useful base in that vital part of the world without the consent of the Jews.

3. Achieving contact among all forces on the ground within each area controlled by Jews, so as to secure inland lines of communication, provide manpower and create a favourable military situation for facing up to Arab threats.

4. Focusing on the continuation of Jewish migration, which was one of the most important objectives of the Israeli strategy at that stage. Migration was arranged by sea, land or secret flights. The number of Jewish migrants totaled some 100,000 from 1945 to 1948 (28).

 

Looking at the Arab and Israeli strategies, it can be said that Arab countries and their armies were neither prepared nor capable of dealing with the Palestinian problem. They might have also been ignorant of, or had deliberately ignored, the prospects of the situation in Palestine, which led to the loss of most of the land of Palestine in that war. As for the Israelis, they were aware of the real situation and were completely prepared for any sudden move by the Arabs, and so they adopted the necessary plans and mechanisms for usurping Palestine.

 

C. The Armament and Size of Arab Forces

Armament was one of the most serious problems that faced the Arab forces in Palestine. The British mandate government forbade Palestinian Arabs from possessing, carrying or using arms, and passed strict laws to punish those who possessed or carried arms (29). The Arab League Military Committee attempted to buy arms in Europe, but to no avail, so it approached Arab countries and imposed the following quotas on them, with a mandatory supply of 1,000 cartridges for each rifle to be supplied:

· Iraq: 2,000 rifles.

· Syria: 2,000 rifles.

· Saudi Arabia: 2,000 rifles.

· Egypt: 2,000 rifles.

· Jordan: 1,000 rifles.

· Lebanon: 1,000 rifles.

 

Some Arab countries demurred as to the delivery of their quotas of weapons, and as a result of such the Military Committee in Damascus received only 4,110 rifles out of a possible 10,000 and only 189,000 cartridges out of a possible million by 8 February 1948. A secret report submitted by Major General Ismail Safwat to the Arab League Secretariat General on 23 March 1948 stated that the Military Committee had received 9,000 rifles, 3.86 million cartridges and a number of machine-guns from Arab States (30). Syria signed a contract with the Czech Skoda factories on behalf of the Arab League for the purchase of 10,000 rifles, 2,000 machine-guns and 12.5 million cartridges. However, the delivery was never made, as the Zionist intelligence discovered it and seized the shipment at sea (31).

 

The Arab forces that fought in the 1948 War comprised the following contingents:

- The Egyptian Army: about 10,000 soldiers.

- The Iraqi Army: about 3,000 soldiers.

- The Jordanian Army: about 4,500 soldiers.

- The Syrian Army: about 3,000 soldiers.

- The Lebanese Army: about 1,000 soldiers (32).

- The Palestinian Holy Struggle Forces: about 8,000 soldiers.

- The Salvation Army: about 3,000 soldiers.

 

D. The Armament and Size of Zionist Forces

The Jewish Agency began to buy arms factories from the United States and Europe and smuggle them to Palestine after the end of the Second World War. In January 1946, a delegation from the Haganah gang went to the United States to buy American arms factories. The Jewish Agency also established four cover companies for buying the arms factories and equipment it needed and was able to purchase 50 cartridge-testing devices and some 2,000 pieces of other equipment and machinery, which were shipped to Palestine and smuggled into Jewish settlements in the autumn of 1947. It created a department for managing the new military industries project, for which 3.2 million Palestinian pounds had been allocated and which produced machine-guns, sub-machine-guns, pistols and small-arms ammunition. Another project was built in parallel under the name “Chemical Projects” at Kfar Fitiken, and a third one was established at Bardis Aprile in the vicinity of Ramat Gan settlement for manufacturing explosives. Haganah agents in Europe established secret warehouses for storing the procured arms as a prelude to smuggling them into Palestine. The first shipment, which comprised 3,000 Bern machine-guns, 2,000 British and German rifles, 400 sub-machine-guns, 500 pistols and 1.5 million cartridges, arrived during the winter of 1947 (33).

The Zionist leadership in Palestine started to build an undergroud military industry in Palestine during the 1940s. Elon Military Industries Organization, which was established near Rahovon settlement, started production of cartridges in 1946. By the end of September 1947, it had produced some 2 million cartridges for Stefi sub-machine-guns. Other military factories produced over 100 two-inch mortars and some 44,500 rounds for them during 1945 and 1946. They also turned out 8,800 Sten sub-machine-guns between 1946 and the autumn of 1947. The hand grenade factory at Tall Mond produced 53,000 Mills grenades during the same time period (34).

Zionist military factories stepped up their production of arms and ammunition quickly. The total number of employees in these factories reached some 500 workers and technicians in the spring of 1948. The factories also expanded on the production of mines of all kinds, in addition to producing the Barghush (flea) sub-machine-gun that had a range of 100 metres and the Davidka missile launcher, which was first used in the attack on Abu Kabir quarter in Yafo on 13 March 1947 (35).

Haganah agents were able to ship 215 tons of arms by sea from Italy to Palestine during the first two months of 1948. On 4 May 1948, they also sent a cargo of 320 tons that included 96 tons of TNT, 223 machine-guns, 1,535 rifles and 3.5 million cartridges. Another shipment was made from Marseilles that reached Tel Aviv on 13 May 1948. It contained 50 65-mm guns with shells, 24 120-mm guns, 11 20-mm machine-guns and 250 Sato sub-machine-guns. The Jewish Agency also bought several transport aircraft from U.S. Air Force surplus equipment in West Germany and had them flown to Holland, where they were renovated, and then to Tel Aviv with cargoes of arms and ammunition onboard on 2 May 1948 (36).

Although the Zionists had an ample supply of arms at that time, the terrorist Haganah gang did not hesitate to buy arms from the British forces stationed in Palestine and from local arms dealers solely for the purpose of denying the Arabs access to weapons (37).

 

The Zionist forces that participated in the 1948 War comprised the following elements:

· 20,000 fully trained and fully armed soldiers.

· 10,000 fully trained and partially armed soldiers.

· 30,000 partially trained and unarmed soldiers.

· 60,000 soldiers from the terrorist Haganah gang.

· 7,000 soldiers from the terrorist Orogon gang, some of whom were armed (38).

 

The correlation of forces of both belligerents in the 1948 War clearly shows that the Israeli forces were more than three times the size of their Arab opponents, not to mention that the Jewish army had a high level of experience, organization and training.

 

The Course of the War

The Arab armies entered Palestine at midnight on 15 May 1948 at several points, with the mission of destroying the Zionist forces, preserving the Arab and Islamic identity of Palestine and achieving Palestinian independence. The Salvation Army had preceded them there, joining the Holy Struggle Army, Egyptian Fedayeen (guerrilla fighters) and local fighters against the Zionists. The combat actions launched by Arab armies at that stage were of an offensive nature on all fronts, with irregular Arab forces supporting the regular armies. Meanwhile, the Zionist forces resorted to defensive attack, which was based on resistance nodes. These resistance nodes comprised the Jewish settlements and populations centres that were close to or inside the theatres of battle. They were prepared for containing Arab attacks through attrition operations and creating favourable conditions for the success of counter-attacks, which were the responsibility of regular brigades (39).

 

The Arab offensive against the Zionists was carried out on several axes, as follows:

A. The Lebanese Front (the Northern Front)

The plan laid down by the Arab High Command stipulated that the Lebanese Army would march from Ras al-Nakura along the coastal highway running from al-Nakura to Acre. The Lebanese forces were deployed towards al-Malekiya and Quds villages, controlling them and keeping the highway leading into the Valley of Jordan towards al-Khawla Lake open. They were supported in their mission by the Salvation Army forces led by Fawzi al-Kawikji, which advanced into the Galilee area between Safad and Acre. Their missions also included engaging the Odi units that were deployed in the western part of Galilee and reinforcing the Syrian Army and the Salvation Army during their offensive on Jewish settlements, in addition to repelling the attacks of the Yaftah Brigade, which was deployed in the depth of Galilee as a mobile offensive reserve force.

B. The Syrian Front (the Northern Front)

Owing to the absence of direct geographical contact between Galilean and Syrian territories, the Arab High Command decided to deploy the Syrian Army across Lebanese and Palestinian territories to work with the Lebanese Army, the Salvation Army and the Palestinian Mujahidin groups deployed in Galilee. Meanwhile, some Syrian formations remained deployed within Syrian territories along the Syrian-Palestinian border. The Syrian attacking force advanced towards Sama town southeast of Tiberias Lake and controlled it, which forced the Zionists to evacuate some of their nearby settlements. Some of the attacks of the Syrian forces on Jewish settlements were repelled, but the Syrians managed to capture Mishmar H’yardin settlement, which made it easier for them to contact the Lebanese forces and the Salvation Army.

C. The Jordanian Front (the Eastern Front)

Before the 1948 War, units of the Arab Corps, which was named the Jordanian Army later, were stationed in Palestine. When the war broke out, other Jordanian forces were deployed to Palestine using the bridges on the Jordan River. The Arab High Command assigned the Jordanian Army and the paramilitary forces operating in Central Palestine the mission of preventing the Zionists’ expansion of Jewish-held areas in Jerusalem and containing the Zionist thrusts aimed at opening the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. These forces were also responsible for protecting the towns and villages that lay within the boundaries of the Arab State (according to the Partition resolution). Therefore, the Jordanian Army advanced into the territories allocated to Arabs and stationed its units at the two towns of Lod and Ramla. In the Holy City of Jerusalem, the army controlled Atarot settlement in the north and al-Misrarah area, besieging the Jewish Quarter until its occupants surrendered. The Jordanian forces also tried to besiege Western Jerusalem (the new city), but failed in that mission. The way was opened for Jordanian forces to establish contact with Egyptian forces when the Iraqi forces captured Prophet Jacob settlement.

D. Operations of the Iraqi Army (the Eastern Front)

An Iraqi infantry brigade reinforced with artillery and armours had arrived in eastern Jordan, where it assembled at al-Mafrik, south of Irbid, prior to the war. On 14 May, elements of this brigade were deployed along the Jordanian-Palestinian border on the heights lying south of the Syrian-Palestinian-Jordanian border junction, which overlooked the southern part of Tiberias Valley. The main mission of the brigade was to cross the Jordan River by al-Majami’ Bridge, then advance along the left flank of the Syrian forces that were assigned the mission of attaching Samakh. The Iraqi forces advanced first towards Tiberias Lake, where they captured a Jewish settlement called Gaisher, but could not maintain their hold on it and had to withdraw into Palestine towards the city of Nabulus. Then they marched towards the territories allocated to Arabs by the Partition resolution, until they reached Netanya settlement opposite the town of Tulkarm on the Mediterranean coast. The Iraqis also managed to drive the Zionists out of the town of Jenin, which they had occupied.

E. Combat Operations on the Egyptian Front (the Southern Front)

The Egyptian ground forces were deployed to al-Arish, where they were joined by a Saudi reinforced company as well as the Egyptian Mujahidin battalions that comprised Muslim Brotherhood members and were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Abdel Aziz.

The plan of the Arab High Command assigned the Egyptian forces the mission of attacking along two directions. The first direction, which was the direction of the main thrust, was assigned to the regular forces. It ran from al-Arish to Tel Aviv through Rafah, Gaza, Ashqelon, al-Majdal and Ashdod. It did go beyond the Arab boundaries (according to the Partition resolution).

The second direction, the direction of the secondary effort, was assigned to the paramilitary forces (the Mujahidin), which were assigned the task of attacking targets within the boundaries of the Jewish State (according to the Partition resolution). It ran from Abu Ogaila to Jerusalem through Be’er Sheva and Hebron.

The Egyptian forces and the other contingents which assisted them on the southern front were not sufficient for achieving the superiority required for offensive operations. The opposing Zionist forces comprised the Negev Brigade, which was deployed in the Negev area, and the Gaf’ati brigade that was ready for commitment behind it in the area between the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and the al-Majdal-Bit Gabrin highway. Behind the two brigades was also a reserve force that was ready to reinforce either of the central or southern fronts, depending on the situation.

The Egyptian forces advanced across Sinai to the Negev, capturing Nirim and Kfar Dirum settlements. The Egyptian forces also entered Gaza and marched northwards on al-Majdal. They also occupied Yad Mordchai settlement on the march. A part of these forces then marched on Ashdod and another part on Be’er Sheva and conquered it, then turned left to contact the Jordanian forces at Bethlehem. This way, the Egyptian Army was able to isolate the Jewish settlements in southern Palestine from the northern part of the country.

F. The Operations of the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army units operating in northern Palestine under the command of Fawzi al-Kawikji had been deployed in the Upper Galilee area and some to the Lower Galilee area. Their area of deployment represented a pocket extending from the Lebanese-Palestinian border to al-Batouf Valley in the south, and from the Galilee Heights in the west to the tip of the Eastern Galilee in the east. Its logistical bases were located in southern Lebanon.

The Salvation Army continued its combat operations against the settlements that were located near its area of deployment. It also ambushed convoys along Jewish lines of communication in cooperation with Palestinian Mujahidin. Its units that were deployed in the central area assumed a role for supporting the operations of the Jordanian and Iraqi forces, while those units deployed in Galilee reinforced the Syrian and Lebanese armies. While the Salvation Army carried out some offensive operations, its operations during the war remained defensive in general. The al-Shagara Battle is considered its most important engagement. On 11 June, the Salvation Army and some groups of Palestinian Mujahidin stormed and occupied salient features north and west of al-Shagara, cutting off the road leading into Kfar Tabur by raining a hail of bullets on anybody who thought of passing. However, they failed to storm al-Shagara village itself or the Jewish settlement lying near it, and so had to withdraw at nightfall.

G. The Operations of Egyptian Mujahidin

Following the penetration of the Negev, the Egyptian Mujahidin battalions operated as light mobile forces whose mission was to defend Be’er Sheva and the Arab positions east of the coastal highway and raid Zionist settlements in the Negev and target the lines of communication leading there. The Muslim Brotherhood Mujahidin forces played an active role in the battles of Tigya, Iraq and Swaidan. The battalions of Mujahidin Fedayeen launched effective combat operations on the Jerusalem front since their arrival at Bethlehem on 19 May. They raided Zionist settlements and lines of communication south of the Jerusalem highway. They also cooperated with the Holy Struggle Army for defending Arab villages on the outskirts of Hebron and played a major part in the battle at Ramat Rahil south of Jerusalem. Their operations had an indirect impact on the combat operations of the Jordanian forces in the Jerusalem area.

 

The First Armistice (11 June-9 July 1948)

The great powers considered the entry of Arab armies into Palestine to liberate it, albeit verbally only, as an external intervention that had to be stopped. In defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and despite the modesty of the successes scored by the Arabs in Palestine, the United States and Britain saw that the persistence of the war threatened the Zionist Jewish entity and held up the Western project aimed at planting a strange body in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world to serve Western interests in the future. World Zionism also played a main role in provoking the West against the Arabs and the Arab countries that were trying to obliterate the Jewish presence in Palestine. The bias towards Israel was quite obvious in that situation, as the countries that applied pressures to stop the war and imposed sanctions on Arab States to force them to comply with the UN Security Council resolution kept silent when the Zionist forces occupied the Palestinian coast from Akron to Nakura, despite the fact that that occupation was a violation of the Security Council resolution.

So, Western countries hurried to Israel’s aid after what happened to the Israeli forces, and they urged the Security Council to put an end to it. The Security Council appointed Count Bernadotte an international mediator on 20 May 1948 so that he might look for a solution to the crisis. On 22 May, the Security Council adopted resolution 50 imposing a cease-fire between Arab States and Israel.

At first, Arab countries refused to abide by the cease-fire. However, Britain exploited its privileged political, economic and armament relations with Iraq, Jordan and Egypt to apply pressure to these three countries, which had the largest armies and military capabilities, and threatened to stop supplying them with weapons and ammunition if the fighting in Palestine continued. The contradiction in Arab stands at that stage was evident between the position of the Syrian Government, which was not susceptible to British pressure, and the attitudes of those Arab countries that had ties with Britain.

When matters reached that state, the leaders of Arab League Member States held a meeting in Amman to discuss the proposals of the international mediator. They were divided over the situation, but when it became apparent that a majority of the conferees favoured acceptance of an armistice, with Syria being the exception, Arab States agreed to have an armistice on 29 May 1948. The Armistice became effective on 11 June 1948.

The Zionist forces used the respite to reorganize themselves and acquire more arms from Western countries and the United States. Once they were in a position to shift from a defensive stance to an offensive disposition, they violated the Security Council resolution before the end of the Armistice on 8 July 1948, capturing some Arab villages and driving their inhabitants away. Hostilities were resumed on 9 July 1948, and the balance of combat started to tip in favour of Israel. The Zionist forces tried to rout their Arab opponents on all fronts, but they succeeded in some sectors and failed in others. The Zionists failed to defeat the Iraqi forces at Jenin area, but scored a small success at Tulkarm. They also managed to capture Lod town and its airport and Ramla town¾forcing the Jordanian Army to retreat under their pressure¾but failed to capture Eastern Jerusalem. The Security Council adopted a cease-fire decree that became effective on 18 July 1948, but Israel did not heed that resolution, nor did the Security Council members pressure it into compliance. The Zionist gangs murdered the international mediator, Count Bernadotte, on 17 September 1948 to prevent him from presenting a new partition proposal to the United Nations that he had prepared.

In October 1948, the Zionist command launched a series of operations that mainly targeted the Egyptian Army. The most significant of these operations were: Operation “Ten Blows” and Operation “Eye”. The Zionist forces also carried out Operation Hiram in Galilee. These operations enabled the Zionist forces to reinforce their positions and besiege al-Faluga pocket, then advance on the Gulf of Aqaba and occupy Umm al-Rashrash village (Elat). They also resulted in the occupation of the Upper Galilee and the expulsion of the Salvation Army out of Palestine after the routing of Syrian and Lebanese forces. On 22 October 1948, Arab commands issued orders to all forces to cease fire! When guns became silent on all fronts, the Israeli forces had established control over 77% of Palestinian territories, and the area controlled by the Arabs had shrunk from some 12,000 square kilometres to 6,000 square kilometres.

The West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem became part of the Kingdom of Jordan, while the Gaza Strip was placed under an Egyptian military administration.

Following the defeat of the Arab forces, talks were held in Rhodes in 1949 between the Arab parties of the 1948 War and the Zionist entity for reaching a permanent armistice. The Zionist entity signed armistice agreements with Egypt on 24 February 1949, Lebanon on 23 March 1949, Jordan on 3 April 1949 and Syria on 20 October 1949. In this way, the larger part of Palestinian territories was lost as a result of the conspiring of Western countries and the Zionist Movement for controlling it against Arabs who were feeble, even sometimes collaborators. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon became separated from the Zionist entity by armistice lines, not legal borders (40).

The most serious result of the 1948 War was that it rendered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians homeless and deprived them of the right to return to the land and homes they left behind.

 

The Reasons for the Arab Failure in the War

The following is a list of reasons why the Arabs failed in their war effort:

· The politicians’ failure to share any discussions of the war with military commanders.

· The superior military capability of the Zionist entity and the support provided by international powers to that entity.

· The poor capabilities and modest military experience of the Arab armies, some of which were newly formed while others were commanded by foreigners, not to mention the fact that they had no actual combat experience.

· The orientations of Arab governments at that time, as they had no intention of opposing international policies.

· The poor coordination and contradiction of orientations among the political leaderships of Arab States.

· The absence of a unified Arab military command that was serious and capable of planning, coordinating and supervising military operations.

 

The 1956 War

A. The Tripartite Aggression on Egypt

Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt in 1956. While each of the parties of the Tripartite Aggression had its own reasons for going into that war, they had one thing in common: Egypt must be dealt a military blow. Therefore, before going into the details of the aggression, we must discuss the reasons that made each party share in it.

Four years after the Free Officers overthrew the royal regime in Egypt and Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed power, he responded to the United States’ and Britain’s withdrawal of their offers for funding the High Dam Project south of Aswan by announcing the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Consequently, Britain started talking about its intention to use armed force for protecting its interests in the Suez Canal (41).

France’s relations with Arab countries, particularly Egypt, began to deteriorate as a result of the French intensification of supply of the latest military equipment to Israel. This made the then-Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, declare that “Egypt’s real enemies are Britain and France, who were sending weapons to Israel (42).” The Egyptian ruling regime’s support of the Algerian revolution against the French occupation also contributed to the estrangement of Cairo and Paris, as France regarded it as an interference in its domestic affairs because it considered Algeria as a French province. The nationalization of the Suez Canal came as a pretext for France to partake of the aggression on Egypt under the guise of protecting its vital interests in using the canal (43).

As to Israel, it was interested in attacking Egypt for several reasons, including the following (44):

1. Delivering a pre-emptive blow that would destroy the Egyptian war machine, which represented the main Arab force, after Egypt had purchased tanks, guns, naval units and aircraft and had become a force to contend with.

2. Opening the Gulf of Aqaba for Israeli shipping, as Egypt was controlling the entrance to the Gulf, which is known as the Tiran Straits, and the two islands overlooking it, Tiran and Sanafer, and had banned Israeli ships from using it. Israel had thought more than once of launching a limited military operation in order to capture Sharm al-Sheikh and controlling the Straits.

3. Ending the fedayeen operations that were being staged from the Gaza Strip, which was under Egyptian control at that time.

So, while each of the three parties of the aggression had its own different reasons for taking part in it, they all agreed that the nationalization of the Suez Canal represented a threat to the strategic interests of all of them.

 

B. The Military Situation Prior to the Aggression

The order of battle of the Egyptian forces that would face up to the aggression on Egypt was as follows (44):

· Ground forces: 19 brigades consisting of 1 regular infantry brigade, 4 reserve brigades, 4 armoured combat groups (each approximately brigade-sized) and 3 independent tank battalions totaling more than 1 armoured brigade.

· Air forces: 14 squadrons, including 7 interceptor squadrons, a fighter-bomber squadron, 2 bomber squadrons, 3 transport squadrons and a supply and communications squadron.

· Naval forces: 4 destroyers, 5 frigates, 4 torpedo boats and several landing and coastal patrol craft, in addition to 3 submarines whose crews had not been completely prepared at that time.

 

The Israeli forces that would participate in the aggression comprised the following:

· Ground forces: 18 brigades, including 3 armoured brigades, 12 infantry brigades, 2 mechanized brigades and a paratrooper brigade.

· Air forces: Israel’s organic air forces were reinforced with French aircraft squadrons that had been deployed to Israeli airfields since 23 October 1956. They comprised 28 squadrons, including 9 interceptor squadrons, 7 fighter-bomber squadrons, 4 bomber squadrons, 3 reconnaissance squadrons, 3 transport squadrons and 2 supply and communications squadrons.

· Naval forces: The Israeli navy had only 2 destroyers, 5 frigates, 22 torpedo boats, 17 landing craft, 3 gunboats and 6 coastal patrol boats (45).

 

Britain had prepared large ground, air and naval forces for direct participation in the aggression. These forces, which were deployed in Cyprus, Malta, Libya and Aden, comprised the following:

· Ground forces: 12 brigades.

· Air forces: 10 fighter-interceptor squadrons, 15 fighter-bomber squadrons, 15 bomber squadrons, 3 reconnaissance squadrons, 7 transport squadrons, 2 assault helicopter squadrons and a supply and communications squadron.

· Naval forces: 5 aircraft carriers, 6 cruisers, 14 destroyers, 7 frigates and 7 submarines, in addition to landing craft and logistical support ships, including transport, repair, supply and hospital ships, tankers and radio communications ships. These units were stationed in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean (46).

 

The French forces that were staged for the aggression comprised the following:

· Ground forces: 5 brigades.

· Air forces (in addition to the squadrons on loan to Israel): 24 squadrons, including 9 fighter-interceptor squadrons, 3 carrier-based fighter-bomber squadrons, 3 reconnaissance squadrons and 5 transport squadrons.

· Naval forces: 2 aircraft carriers, a barge, 2 cruisers, 4 destroyers, 8 frigates, 2 submarines and a number of landing and logistical support craft (47).

 

Comparison of the Egyptian forces with the forces that attacked Egypt clearly shows that the balance of power was not in favour of the Egyptian side, even though not all the British and French brigades were committed to battle (48). This superiority made Israel eager to launch the aggression on Egypt to achieve its above-mentioned objectives.

On 24 October 1956, the final protocol for invading Egypt (49) was signed in one of Paris’s outskirts by David Ben Gurion for Israel, Christian Penot for France and Patrick Dean for Britain (50). The three countries agreed to launch the operation on 29 October 1956 under the following arrangement (51):

1. Israel would attack the Sinai Peninsula across the cease-fire lines and stage a strategic air landing. Once the operation was underway, an announcement would be made that military operations jeopardized the Suez Canal, so that France and Britain might be able to interfere.

2. Britain and France would attack the Suez Canal area from the Mediterranean, starting with Port Said and then continuing to Suez and Ismailia.

3. A request would be made of both Egypt and Israel, but with two different phraseologies. The notification to Israel would comprise only two paragraphs, one calling for a cease-fire and the other demanding withdrawal of forces to ten miles from the Suez Canal. The one addressed to Egypt would have those two paragraphs plus a third paragraph demanding deployment of French and British forces in the Suez Canal area.

4. French aircraft would be allowed to use Israeli air bases to provide an air cover to Israeli cities.

5. Britain and France would guarantee free passage for Israeli ships in the Gulf of Aqaba after the end of the war.

 

On the other hand, Egypt, anticipating a British-French attack on the Suez Canal front, took several preventive measures that included the following:

1. Deploying a part of the Egyptian Army to Sinai to repel the Israeli attack there.

2. Deploying another part in the Suez Canal area.

3. Keeping a third part at the disposal of the High Command for deployment to other areas where unexpected hostile troop concentrations would be discovered (52).

 

C. The Start of the Aggression (53)

On 27 October 1956, it became known that the Israeli forces were moving quickly. On the following day, the Israeli Ministry of Defence issued a communiqué on the troop movements in a bid to hide its intention to attack Egypt, saying that its military movements were aimed at Jordan, where it would stop the fedayeen attacks initiated from Jordanian territories. For more deception, the Israelis leaked news about an imminent attack on Jordanian targets.

At twilight on 29 October, the first 16 Israeli aircraft took off, flying into Sinai across the Line of Armistice to drop paratroopers over Metla Pass. The Egyptian forces stationed in the area confronted the Israeli troops at Metla Pass and in Sinai, and the Israelis had to engage them. Although the Israelis had been trying to avoid going into any engagements until British and French landing operations had started, they had to engage the Egyptian defenders when the British and French troops were delayed.

At 1900 hours on 31 October, the British and French raids on Egyptian airfields at Cairo and Suez began. The two-day bombings neutralized the Egyptian Air Forces and main air-defence sites. On 31 October, a decision was made to withdraw Egyptian forces from Sinai and reassemble them in the Suez Canal area, so as not to leave them vulnerable to destructive air attacks that ground-based air defences might not be able to prevent or decrease their impact enough. While the Egyptian forces were preparing to pull back, the Israelis were getting ready to exploit the new developments and continue their rush towards the Suez Canal. At that time, several battles occurred between the Egyptians and the Israelis at Rafah, Khan Yunis, Abu Ogaila and Sharm al-Sheikh. The Israeli forces captured Rafah on 2 November without resistance. Gaza fell on the same day, while Khan Yunis was captured on 3 November. After the fall of Rafah, Khan Yunis and the Gaza Strip, the Israelis marched towards the Suez Canal with little difficulty.

The aggression against Egypt became fiercer at the approach to the Suez Canal and in Sinai. Bombers dropped their bombs on military and civilian targets alike, and the Egyptian forces were under fire from land, sea and air. Under these conditions, the Israeli forces gained ground, capturing Sharm al-Sheikh on 6 November. With the fall of Sharm al-Sheikh, the Israeli operation in Sinai came to a close after achieving three of its military objectives, namely:

1. Reaching the Suez Canal.

2. Occupying positions that controlled the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba.

3. Controlling the Gaza Strip.

 

As to British and French forces, they met fierce Egyptian resistance. Despite the heavy bombing, the Egyptians fought a battle to the death, and the invaders managed to capture only Port Said and Port Fouad at the entrance of the Suez Canal.

 

D. The End of the Aggression

Following the internecine fighting on the Egyptian front, each of the United States and the Soviet Union issued a separate warning to the aggressors, demanding a stop to the aggression and a withdrawal from captured territories. Consequently, the British and French governments agreed to stop hostilities on the night of 6/7 November 1956, declaring that their forces would remain in Egypt until the arrival of international forces. On 22 December 1956, international emergency forces entered the city of Port Said, followed by Egyptian forces. Israel claimed that pulling its forces out of Sinai and the Gaza Strip would create a new situation that would jeopardize its security in the future. It refused to withdraw from the areas it had captured unless Egypt agreed to deployment of international emergency forces at Sharm al-Sheikh. The United States provided a verbal promise that Israel would not fall under any acts of aggression, including fedayeen operations out of the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the great naval powers gave Israel a promise guaranteeing free passage to all ships through Tiran Straits. On 6 March 1957, the last Zionist soldier withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

 

The 1967 War

The 1967 War was another episode in the series of Zionist terrorism that is embodied in murdering and terrorizing civilians and usurping land after forcing its owners to migrate. After the political defeat sustained by the Zionist forces in the wake of the terrorist aggression on Egypt in 1956, Israel found that, barring the opening of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, it had not achieved the objectives it had sought when it joined the aggression on Egypt. The 1956 aggression had also created strategic problems for Israel, as the Zionist entity had not managed to gain new ground that would enable it to expand its borders and protect its burgeoning State. Therefore, the enemy leaders decided that a new war was in order and began to prepare for war from 1957 onwards. The Israelis continued to build up their military capabilities for a decade. The most important reasons for the Zionist intention to wage a war of aggression against the Arabs can be summarized as follows (54):

1. Expansion: Israeli leaders agreed that the land they usurped in 1948 did not serve their strategic ambitions for building a safe and strong entity. They judged that migration to Israel would be particularly attractive if more Arab land could be captured to make room for colonization. Therefore, they became convinced that their aims would be served only by grabbing more Arab land. This is confirmed by the then-Israeli minister of defence, Moshe Dayan, who said, “Israel is facing an unusually complicated security problem. The area of this country is not more than 8,100 square miles, and its borders are 400 miles. Three-quarters of the people of Israel live in the coastal valley that stretches from the northern part of Haifa to the southern part of Tel Aviv. The average width of that heavily populated area was not more than the 12 miles that separate the Mediterranean coast from the Jordanian borders. The Israeli General Staff Building in the coastal valley can be seen from the hilltops just inside the Jordanian borders. Our highways and railroads are susceptible to quick, unimpeded invasion. There is almost no place in Israel that is not within the range of enemy fire, except the Negev (55).”

2. Despite summit conferences, inter-Arab relations had reached an unprecedented state of deterioration.

3. The Israeli Armed Forces had completed their war preparations and were in possession of numerous capable forces that could wage a decisive blitzkrieg on three Arab fronts simultaneously.

4. Control of Arab water sources: Israel had erected different hydraulic projects to maximize the use of available water, including al-Khawla Lake Project that was implemented in the 1950s, and was considering controlling the sources of the Jordan River to keep water safe from Arab threats.

5. Economic problems within the Zionist entity had become worse in late 1966, and war had become the best option for getting rid of economic hardships, as it would attract economic, financial and military aid from friendly countries, Zionist organizations and Jewish communities all over the world.

 

A. The Harbingers of War

Following a statement by the then-chief of the Israeli General Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, that “the Israeli Armed Forces may attack Damascus if Syrian terrorist operations do not stop,” in which he pointed out that such an attack would end the rule of the Syrian ruling regime (56), it became certain that the third Arab-Israeli war was imminent. The Zionist entity began to amass elements of its army along the Syrian borders in 1966. Subsequently, Egypt and Syria signed a common defence agreement on 24 November 1966, in addition to the Egyptian-Jordanian agreement on common defence that had been signed on 30 May 1966. Those developments had been preceded by the withdrawal of international emergency forces that had been stationed between Egypt and the Zionist entity in response to an Egyptian request that they be pulled out of Egyptian territories. In May 1967, the Zionists began to amass additional forces along the Syrian border, and Syria responded by deploying its forces to its southern front. Egypt, consequently, ordered its forces to march on Sinai. On 23 May, Egypt closed Tiran Straits to Israeli ships. Meanwhile, Iraqi, Kuwaiti and Saudi forces arrived in the Arab frontline States to back their forces in the anticipated war.

 

B. The Course of the War (57)

The Zionist entity began its war against Arab countries with a massive air attack by the Zionist air forces on Egyptian airbases that started at 0845 hours on Monday 5 June 1967. It code-named its terrorist attack plan the “Pigeon Movement,” while the signal for launching the air attack was the code-name “Columb.” According to the Israeli terrorist scheme, the Zionists launched all of their fighter aircraft, totaling about 164, against Egyptian airbases, keeping only 12 aircraft¾8 for protecting the skies of the Zionist entity and 4 on ground alert to face any emergency. The air raids targeted 9 main Egyptian airfields¾4 in Sinai and 5 west of the Suez Canal. The attacking aircraft flew at very low altitudes, sometimes as low as ten metres above sea level, so as to escape detection by Egyptian radars.

The Zionist planes bombed Egyptian runways first, so as to prevent Egyptian aircraft from taking off, then began attacking the aircraft themselves to destroy them. The Zionists spared al-Arish Airfield, so as to use it as a forward resupply base and land their aircraft there. In this way, the Egyptian air forces were out of commission within the first hours of the war. According to the Zionist plan, the Zionist air bombing coincided with the flow of Israeli ground forces into the coast of Gaza, where they engaged the Palestinian Liberation Army forces, and Sinai, where they engaged the Egyptian Army. Despite the resistance showed by the Egyptian Army, it could not hold its position for long, as it was vulnerable to Israeli air attacks and did not have adequate defences. Therefore, it may be said that the battle on the Egyptian front was decided during the first hours of the Zionist aggression on Egypt.

The Jordanian front did not fare any better than its Egyptian counterpart, for all of the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s 32 aircraft that were stationed at Amman and al-Mafrik airfields were destroyed at noon on 5 June, after some of them had launched a number of raids on the Israeli airfields at Netanya, Ptah, Tkfa and Sikrin, destroying 4 transport planes on the ground at 1100 hours. That left the Jordanian forces on the West Bank without air cover that would help them repel the Zionist aggression. Ground fighting was mostly concentrated at the strategically important Jerusalem and Jenin, but the Jordanian Army collapsed at noon on the second day of the war, falling back on its second line of defence: the Jordan River. The Arab forces that had been stationed on Jordanian territories did not take part in the fighting.

The combat operations on the Syrian front were a repetition of the operations on the Egyptian and Jordanian fronts. Syrian airfields and planes were destroyed or heavily damaged. Ground fighting was limited, as the Zionist forces had to stretch their elements over the Egyptian and Jordanian fronts. After the Zionist forces had accomplished their missions on these two fronts, some elements of the Zionist gangs were dispatched to the Syrian front to reinforce the forces already there. The Zionists increased their pressure on the Golan Heights and managed to climb and capture them on the sixth day of the war.

As a result, the cease-fire lines extended from the Suez Canal in the west to the Jordan River in the east, and from Sharm al-Sheikh in the south to the mountains of Syria and Lebanon in the north. More Arabs fell under Israeli occupation, including 795,000 in the West Bank, 653,000 in the Gaza Strip, 33,000 in Sinai and 6,500 in the Golan Heights. The terrorist aggression also resulted in the migration of large numbers of Arabs from their land, which was the second Arab exodus in 20 years of Zionist terrorism (58).

 

The 1973 War (59)

Following the Zionist storming of Arab land in 1967, the Israelis were drunk with victory. The Jewish community was jubilant over the feat accomplished by the “Defence Army,” or the “Invincible Army” as it came to be called by senior military commanders. The Zionist army also gained a higher status at the world level at that time. As to the situation in the Arab camp, the 1967 defeat ended the dream on the Arab street that Palestinian land would be liberated, which caused a state of deep frustration for Arabs and Muslims. Accusations of negligence and weakness against Arab ruling regimes became more pronounced, and calls for action for liberating the Arab land that was usurped by the Zionists became louder. After the June 1967 defeat, Syria, Iraq and Jordan agreed to establish a unified military command for the Eastern Front, so that it might cooperate with the Southern Front in Egypt for achieving the requirements of the plan for liberating the land and preserving the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in implementation of the resolutions of the 4th Arab League summit conference. The summit conference, which was hosted by Khartoum, considered the elimination of aggression on Arab territories the responsibility of all Arab States for which all resources must be mobilized. It also resolved that defeat should be a strong motive for closing Arab ranks and reinforcing collective Arab action (60).

 

A. The Objectives of the War

The strategic objective of the 1973 War was not the liberation of occupied Arab territories and the destruction of the Israeli entity and elimination of its presence in the region by military force. It was rather the creation of a new state of affairs that would make possible the liberation of Palestinian, Syrian and Egyptian land that had been usurped in 1967 by diplomatic means through the exploitation of the developments that would be brought about by a fourth Arab-Zionist war, as such a war would change the diplomatic situation in the Middle East from one of quiet and anticipation to a situation of activity and conferences. This was evident in the statement by former Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, who said, “We are fully aware of the dimensions of the international balance of powers and the sensitivity of the Middle East region and its importance to both West and East. Therefore, the October 1973 War was a limited war that targeted the very core of the Israeli theory of security, because we knew that it would be followed by important changes that would lead us to the complete liberation of the occupied territories (61).”

 

B. The Outbreak of the War

The October 1973 War took the Zionists by surprise. At 1405 hours on 6 October, the fire preparation began, with guns, mortars, missile launchers and tank tubes firing on Israeli positions for 53 minutes. Simultaneously, 200 Egyptian and Syrian aircraft took off to bomb Israeli military positions on the other side of the cease-fire lines that had been drawn as a result of the 1967 War. The war raged only on the Syrian and Egyptian fronts, for the Jordanian front remained calm throughout the war despite the fact that the Jordanian Army fought side by side with Syrian forces on the Syrian front. In implementation of the resolutions of the Khartoum Summit, Arab forces from Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates fought side by side with the armies of the Frontline States. Within 45 minutes, Egyptian forces, backed by Arab forces, were flowing onto the eastern bank of the Suez Canal to demolish obstacles and minefields and besiege the Barlev Line strong points. Arab soldiers stormed the Zionist fortifications, and the enemy soldiers surrendered themselves and their weapons and tanks to them. The Egyptian Army, helped by its Arab brothers, was able to liberate areas along the Suez Canal bank.

On the Syrian front, the Syrian soldiers, with the support of their brothers from Arab armies, managed to gain the top of Mount Hermon. They also captured the strongest Zionist strongholds. Syrian tanks began liberating one position after another, penetrating deeper into the lines of the Zionist enemy. Soon they were looking down into Tiberias Lake and Galilee. The Zionists tried to employ their air force in that battle, but Arab ground-based air defences confronted it and shot down several aircraft. The Zionist soldiers fled from the battleground in the face of soldiers who filled the air with the call “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest). The Zionist Army was on the brink of collapse, so the United States hurried to supply the Zionist entity with modern weapons and equipment in large quantities and at unprecedented rates, through the American airlift that began operating publicly and intensively on 13 October 1973 and changed the course of military operations in favour of the Zionist Army.

As a result of this American support to Israel in the war, the Zionist forces managed to cross the Suez Canal to Suez City on the west bank of the canal across a bridge they had erected at al-Devresoir. There, they started to build up their presence, causing much havoc among the Egyptian forces. The Zionists also tried to occupy Suez City, but failed to do that. However, they managed to besiege the Egyptian 3rd Army, cutting off its communications and resupply routes. On the Syrian front, the Zionists managed to recapture all the ground they had lost, then advanced into Syrian territories until their advance elements were 25 kilometres from Damascus. As a result, the Egyptians and Syrians had to accept UN Security Council resolution 338.

Arab oil-producing countries did not hesitate to participate in the October 1973 War by using oil as an effective weapon for the first time. Arab oil ministers met in Kuwait on 17 October and announced an immediate cut in production that would be repeated monthly and a complete ban on oil exports to the United States and Holland until Israeli forces were fully withdrawn from the Arab territories that were occupied in the 1967 War. However, the ban resolution was abolished by the Arab ministers in a meeting they held in Cairo on 10 July 1974.

To avoid the spreading of fighting, and fearing the destruction of the Zionist Army, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 338 on 22 October 1973. That resolution stipulated a cease-fire by all belligerents and a stop of all military operations within 12 hours from the time the resolution was adopted. It also called on the belligerents to start implementing UN Security Council resolution 242 dated 22 November 1967 in all its items and go into negotiations under acceptable supervision with the aim of establishing a just and enduring peace in the Middle East. Egypt accepted the resolution after the enemy army had achieved success on the Egyptian front as mentioned. However, the Egyptian acceptance of the cease-fire came as a surprise to Syria, which, assessing that it would not be able to continue fighting alone, accepted the UN resolution.

 

C. The Results of the War

The 1973 War opened the door wide for the Palestinian Cause to come to the fore in international forums after pro-Israeli powers had forced its absence. At the military level, despite the fact that Arab military forces were unable to remove the effects of the Zionist aggression of 1967, it may be said that one of the most important military achievements scored by the Arabs was that Arab armies took the offensive strategic initiative for the first time since the 1948 war and achieved several operational and tactical successes in the first stage of their offensive. Besides, the initial results of the war had a positive impact on Arab psychology, as Arab soldiers proved themselves as brave fighters and cleared their image from the tainting caused by the outcome of the 1967 War. The October 1973 War also created a new psychological approach to confronting the occupying enemy in the Occupied Arab Territories.

As to the initial effects of the war on the Zionist entity, the morale of the population of the Zionist State plummeted as a result of the human and material losses sustained by the Zionist entity during the hostilities. The confidence in the Zionist entity’s military prowess was shaken at both internal and external levels, for the myth of the invincible Israeli Army was shot to pieces.

 

The 1982 War

The 1982 War is characterized by its being a purely Palestinian-Israeli war. For the first time in the history of Arab-Israeli confrontations, there was a direct confrontation between the Palestinian revolution forces and the Zionist occupation army forces. There was a clear difference between the main objectives of the 1982 War and those of the wars that preceded it. In the 1956 War, the objective of the Zionist entity was not the obliteration of Egypt as a political entity inasmuch as it was the destruction of Egyptian military forces in Sinai, while the Zionist entity was after geographic expansion and destruction of Arab military power in the 1967 War. On the other hand, the October 1973 War waged by Egypt and Syria had limited political objectives by which the two countries were seeking to eliminate the effects of the 1967 War. In the 1982 War, the Zionist entity was planning to achieve a complete politico-military victory against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its infrastructure in Lebanon.

 

A. The Harbingers of War

After the escalation of military operations that were launched by Palestinian resistance forces from all factions against the Zionist entity and the adoption of southern Lebanon as a base for staging these operations, the Zionist entity decided to launch a military operation for storming southern Lebanon and establishing a security zone that would provide security for the population of its northern part. The two military operations executed by the Zionist occupation forces in 1978 and 1981 were harbingers of the 1982 War. The first operation, code-named “Operation Litani,” took six days from 15 to 21 March 1987. During that operation, the Zionist entity managed to capture southern Lebanon, whose administration it then turned over to a Lebanese national named Saad Haddad who declared the Free State of Lebanon (62). The second operation took place in July 1981 when Israeli forces shelled Palestinian resistance bases and southern Lebanese villages. The Palestinian revolution forces responded by firing guns and missiles on Zionist settlements in Upper and Western Galilee. The 14-day operation came to a stop after the PLO and the Zionist entity signed a cease-fire agreement on 24 July 1981. Having failed to achieve their objective of destroying the PLO infrastructure in the two operations, the political and military leaders of Zionist terrorism decided to invade Lebanon in the summer of 1982 in an operation code-named “Peace for Galilee.”

 

B. The Start and Course of the War (63)

On the night of 4/5 June 1982, Zionist aircraft bombed the western parts of Beirut, Sidon, Tyre and Nabatia. On 6 June, the aggressor’s forces stormed Lebanese territories. The forces committed to the operation by the Zionists comprised 9,000 soldiers, 1,300 tanks, 12,000 troop and supply vehicles, 1,300 armoured personnel carriers and an air component of 634 fighters, as well as a naval force that could not be practically countered. These forces attacked Syrian ground and air elements on the ground and in the skies of Lebanon, though the brunt of the offensive was suffered by some 10,000-15,000 Palestinian and Lebanese fighters who had no air or naval forces or even armoured vehicles (64). Within 24 hours from the start of the attack, the city of Tyre was in the hands of the Zionists, and the Zionist forces continued their advance into Lebanese territories. The Zionists faced ferocious resistance from Palestinian fighters, but Palestinian and Lebanese positions continued to fall one after the other, which forced the Palestinian armed forces to take refuge in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut. The Zionist storming operation was so swift that reporters and photographers were able to see the ruins of bombed cities and towns while smoke was still rising from their demolished houses and to witness the bodies of victims while they were being unearthed from the debris. The Zionist enemy’s forces clashed with the Syrian forces in Lebanon, and the two sides were engaged in battles for several days. The Syrians showed great abilities in tank warfare. During these engagements, the Zionists managed to destroy the Syrian anti-aircraft missile network. The Syrian missiles could not be launched because of a technological development that the Zionists had made, which enabled them to jam the missiles (65). Having had its air-defence missiles destroyed on the ground, Syria launched its aircraft to head off the aggressor’s planes, but the Syrian Air Forces received a strong blow that completely paralyzed them. The result was that Syrian ground forces became vulnerable to attacks by enemy airplanes, which caused the Syrians heavy losses in lives, armours and guns. Consequently, the Syrian forces withdrew to positions that were relatively far from the sites of main battles. The fall of southern Lebanon at the hands of the Zionist occupation army made it possible to besiege Beirut, where the PLO had its headquarters and main institutions. The Lebanese Phalanxes cooperated with the invading forces in besieging the Palestinians (66). Beirut was under a full Zionist siege for over two months, during which the aggressor’s forces continued to bombard the city. Throughout the summer of 1982, the Zionist air forces carried out a campaign of regular and intensive bombing of Beirut and some other Lebanese cities. The objective of that bombing was to destroy known and suspected PLO military positions, as well as Palestinian civil centres. As Israel considers all PLO institutions, including social and medical care organizations, as terrorist organizations, it treated all of them as military targets. Israel deliberately launched two types of operations that led to heavy casualties among civilians. The first type of operation was random bombings that were aimed at provoking the local populace against the PLO, while the second was intensive bombings that targeted senior PLO leaders (67).

The fighters of the Palestinian revolution managed to hold their ground in the face of the Zionist war machine in spite of their small number and modest armaments. However, the political leadership chose the simplest and easiest way for getting out of the beleaguered city by signing an agreement that was brokered by the United States after 80 days of siege. The agreement stipulated that the Palestinian forces be withdrawn from Beirut to Arab countries that were far from the frontline. The exodus of these forces from Lebanon was regarded as a cruel, even fatal, blow to the Palestinian military infrastructure.

 

C. The Outcome of the War

1. The Zionist forces managed to destroy the infrastructure of the Palestinian Armed Forces and diminish their presence on the Lebanese scene.

2. The Zionist entity drowned in a Lebanese military quagmire, in which it came to face a military confrontation of a new kind that was spearheaded by Lebanese organizations (68).

3. The Arab people’s armed struggle went out of the phase of conflict to enter a new stage that has produced Arab and foreign settlement projects, which marked a turning point in the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian Cause.


END NOTES

1. Cultural Studies Centre, International Issues (special edition), issue 261-1-8, January 1995, p. 47.

2. Cultural Studies Centre, Ibid., pp. 47-48.

3. Mamdooh al-Rawsan, Iraq and Arab Orient Issues from 1941 to 1958, Beirut, Arab Establishment for Studies and Publications, 1979, p. 243.

4. A research group, The Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Zionist Conflict, vol. 2, sec. 1, Arab League Secretariat General, p. 26.

5. Barry Rubin, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1981, p. 196.

6. Barry Rubin, Ibid., p. 199.

7. Aref al-Aref, The Catastrophe: The Catastrophe of Jerusalem and Paradise Lost from 1947 to 1952, Beirut, Sidon, Publications of the Modern Bookshop for Printing and Publication, 1956, p. 282.

8. Mamdooh al-Rawsan, Ibid., p. 262.

9. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 30.

10. Nabil Khalid al-Agha, The Palestine Cause in a Hero’s Biography: The Living Martyr Abdel Kadir al-Hussaini, Arab Establishment for Studies and Publications, Beirut, 1980, pp. 62-63.

11. Nabil Khalid al-Agha, Ibid., with alterations, pp. 61-65.

12. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 31.

13. Barry Rubin, Ibid., p. 198.

14. Barry Rubin, Ibid., p. 199.

15. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 33.

16. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., pp. 33-34.

17. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, The Islamic Trend in Palestine and its impact on the Jihad Movement from 1948 to 1971, Al Falah Book Store, Kuwait, 1988, pp. 464-476, with alterations.

18. Mohsen Mohamma Saleh, Ibid., pp. 477-478, with alterations.

19. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, The Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Amman 1987, first edition, p. 65.

20. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 66.

21. King Abdullah’s Memoirs, with introduction by Omar al-Medani, Facts From the History of Jordan, p. 241.

22. Charles Douglas Hume, The Arabs and Israel, the Bodley Head, London, Sydney, Toronto, p. 23.

23. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 68.

24. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 67.

25. Retired Major General Ali Ghalib Aziz, The Liberation of Palestine, Iraqi Army Printing House, Baghdad, 1969.

26. Research and Publication House, Palestine, The Role of Morals and Mentality in the War of Liberation, Beirut 1967, p. 77.

27. Mohammad Hekil, The Road to Ramadan, London, Collins, Tame Place, 1975, p. 153.

28. Egal Alon, The Formation and Establishment of the Israeli Army, translated by Osman Said, Beirut, Al Awda House, 1971, pp. 66-68.

29. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 35.

30. Aref al-Aref, Ibid., pp. 54-61.

31. Hani al-Hindi, The Salvation Army, Beirut, Al Quds House, 1974, pp. 52-53.

32. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 70.

33. The Palestine War 1947-1948, The Official Israeli Story, translated by Ahmad Khalifa, Nicosia, Palestinian Studies Establishment, 1984, pp. 60-74.

34. The Palestine War 1947-1948, Ibid., pp. 54-56.

35. The Palestine War 1947-1948, Ibid., pp. 408-409.

36. The Palestine War 1947-1948, Ibid., pp. 427-429.

37. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 42.

38. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 71.

39. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 84.

40. For more information on the course of the war see:

- The Palestinian Encyclopedia, Foreign Studies, pp. 478-489.

- A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., pp. 153-231.

- Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli War, pp. 1-104.

41. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., pp. 97-98.

42. Dr. Ahmad Said Nofal, French-Arab Relations as Reflected by France’s Stand on the Main Elements of the Palestinian Cause, Kazima Publication, Translation and Distribution Company, Kuwait, 1984, p. 55.

43. For more details, see Dr. Ahmad Said Nofal, Ibid., pp. 54-57.

44. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 252.

45. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., pp. 251-252.

46. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 253.

47. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 253.

48. A research group, The Palestinian Cause, Ibid., p. 253.

49. Dr. Ahmad Said Nofal, Ibid., p. 57.

50. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 103.

51. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., pp. 103-104.

52. Introduction to the Palestinian Cause, Centre for Middle East Studies, under printing.

53. Al-Haitham al-Ayubi, The Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Zionist Conflict, previous source, pp. 258-284. Also see Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., pp. 104-109.

54. For more details, see Dr. Haitham Kilani, Arab-Israeli Wars for Palestine, the Palestinian Encyclopedia, vol. 2, ch. 5, 1984, Damascus, p. 46. Also see Dr. Abdel Sattar Kassim and Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Arab Wars for Palestine, Jawad al-Hamd (editor), Introduction to the Palestinian Cause, 1997, Amman, pp. 288-290.

55. Dr. Suleiman Rasheed Salman, Nuclear Weapons and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1978, Damascus, p. 27.

56. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, the Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1987, Amman, p. 122.

57. For more information see the Military Encyclopedia, vol. 1, Arab Establishment for Studies and Publications, Beirut, 1977, pp. 670-694. Also see Dr. Haitham Kilani, Ibid., pp. 542-582.

58. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 125.

59. For more information, see the Military Encyclopedia, Ibid., pp. 694-723. Also see Lieutenant Colonel al-Haitham al-Ayubi, The Ramadan 1973 War, The Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Zionist Conflict, Abdel Aziz al-Dori (editor), vol. 2, ch. 2, pp. 597-635.

60. Talaat Ahmad Musallam, Arab Armies’ Participation in the 1973 War, Palestinian Affairs magazine, issue 193, April 1989, Beirut, p. 62.

61. Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, the Palestinian Cause and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Ibid., p. 234.

62. Dr. Abdel Sattar Kassim and Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 309.

63. For more details, see Dr. Haitham Kilani, The Arab-Israeli Wars for Palestine, Ibid., pp. 664-719. Also see Nizam Sharabi, America and the Arabs: The American Policy in the Arab World in the 20th Century, Riyad Al Rayes House for Books and Publications, London, 1990, pp. 596-612.

64. Clifford A. Right, The Israeli War Machine in London, Palestinian Studies Establishment (translated), The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon, 1982, Political and Military Studies, Beirut, 1984, p. 60.

65. For more information on Zionist armament and their technological advancement, see Clifford A. Right, Ibid., pp. 57-86.

66. Dr. Abdel Sattar Kassim and Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., pp. 310-311.

67. Clifford A. Right, Ibid., pp. 80-81.

68. Dr. Abdel Sattar Kassim and Dr. Ghazi Rabab’a, Ibid., p. 312.






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