Al-Ahram WeeklySpecial pages commemorating
50 years of Arab dispossession
since the creation of the
State of Israel
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


At the first Zionist Congress, held in Basle in 1897, its organiser, Theodor Herzl, stated: "At Basle I founded the Jewish state. In 50 years everyone will perceive it." Fifty years and 85 days later, on 29 November 1947, the UN approved the partition of Palestine.

14 May 1948

Tel Aviv Museum, 4pm, 14 May 1948: David Ben-Gurion reads the proclamation declaring the establishment of the state of Israel.


Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff of the Israeli Army, and other high-ranking Israeli officials, dig a ditch in the Gaza Strip during the 1956 Tripartite Aggression.


June 1967: Israel occupies Sinai, the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Moshe Dayan at the Aqsa Mosque Compound.


Egypian soldiers raising the Egyptian flag after crossing the Suez Canal on 6 October 1973. The same day, Egypt and Syria launched an attack against the Israeli forces occypying Sinai and the Golan Heights. Part of Sinai was liberated, but the Golan Heights remain occupied until today.

Meir and Moshe at Golan

Golda Meir, then Israel's prime minister, and Moshe Dayan, minister of defence, visiting the Golan Heights on the Syrian front in November 1973. Meir stated during the visit, "Israel can hold out as long as we want."

ME Peace Conference

On 21 December 1973, the Middle East Peace Conference, opened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Syria's absence left several chairs empty. Egypt's foreign minister at the time, Ismail Fahmi, threatened to withdraw if the Egyptian delegation was seated next to the Israeli.

Kilometre 101

UN-sponsored negotiations between the Egyptian and Israeli armies to reach a disengagement agreement began on 20 January 1974. In the photo, Lieutenant-general Abdel-Ghani El-Gamasi, then chief of staff of the Egyptian army, is walking out of the tent where the negotiations, dubbed "Kilometre 101", were held.

Sadat and Begin

No progress was made in the negotiations until 1977, when President Sadat declared that he was prepared to go to the Knesset in order to have the Israelis withdraw from Sinai. Sadat addressed the Knesset on 20 November. In the photo, Shamir, later Israel's prime minister, is listening to Sadat.

at Camp Devid

US-sponsored talks led to the signing of the peace agreements between Egypt and Israel in 1979. In the photo, Egypt's prime minister, Mustafa Khalil, sharing a laugh with US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at Camp David.

Beirut 1982

In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, bombed Beirut for over two months, and finally entered the city in August. In the photo, PLO fighters are exiting Beirut.


December 1987: the popular uprising known as Intifada broke out in Gaza and spread to the West Bank. The Intifada continued for five years.


In October 1991, the Madrid Peace Conference opened. In the photo, Shamir is listening as the head of the Palestinian delegation, Dr Haidar Abdel-Shafi, demands total Israeli withdrawal.


In August 1993, a deal between the PLO and Israel, secretly negotiated at Oslo, was announced. On 13 September, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the first Oslo Accord at a ceremony on the White House lawn.

Condolences to Leah Rabin

Rabin was assasinated in November 1995 for "giving in" to the Palestinians. In the photo, Arafat pays his condolences to Leah Rabin.

Netanyahu is elected

Israeli general elections in May 1996 bring Binyamin Netanyahu to power and oust Shimon Peres, Rabin's partner in the Oslo peace bid.

50 years of struggle
Balfour Declaration

Copy of the Balfour Declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine --read it in plain text--


January: London Round Table Conference reopens.

February: British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin proposes variant of Morrison-Grady federal plan at London Conference and to Jewish Agency. Arab delegates and Jewish Agency reject proposal. Bevin announces British submission of Palestine problem to United Nations. March: Arab League blames Britain and US for deteriorating situation in Palestine.

April: UN General Assembly special session on Palestine problem leads to appointment of eleven-member Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).

June: Stern Gang claims responsibility for letter bombs addressed to leading British government officials in London.

August: Haganah terrorist attack on Palestinian orange grower's house near Tel Aviv kills twelve occupants including mother and six children.

September 8: Publication of UNSCOP report. Majority of members recommend partition and minority recommend federal solution.

September 16-19: Arab League denounces UNSCOP partition recommendation and appoints Technical Military Committee to supervise Palestinian defense needs. September 26: British Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones announces Britain's decision to end Palestine Mandate.

September 29: Arab Higher Committee for Palestine rejects partition.

October 2: Jewish Agency announces acceptance of partition.

October 11: US endorses partition

October 29: Britain says it will leave Palestine in six months if no settlement reached. November 27: Technical Military Committee chairman warns of virtual impossibility of overcoming Zionist forces with irregulars; urges prompt Arab action in organizing military forces; advocates training Palestinians to defend themselves.

November 29: UN General Assembly recommends slight variant of UNSCOP partition plan by 33 to 13 votes with 10 abstentions. Arab representatives walk out of assembly.

November 30: Haganah calls up all Jews in Palestine aged 17-25 to register for military service.

December: Haganah launches Plan Gimmel, designed to destabilize Palestinian population and occupy strategic positions in country. Arab League organizes Arab Liberation Army (ALA), a voluntary force of Arab irregulars under guerrilla leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji to help Palestinians resist partition.

December 2: Palestinians start three-day strike protesting UN partition resolution. Intercommunal clashes result in death of eight Jews and six Palestinians.

December 5: US State Department announces US embargo on arms shipments to Palestine and Arab states.

December 8: Britain recommends to UN that Palestine Mandate be terminated on 15 May 1948 and independent Jewish and Palestinian states be established two weeks later.

December 8-17: Arab League declares partition of Palestine illegal; it resolves to provide 10,000 rifles, 3,000 volunteers (including 500 Palestinians) and additional 1,000,000 pounds.

December 15: British turns policing of Tel Aviv and Petah Tikva over to Jews and that of Jaffa to Palestinians.

December 17: Jewish Agency Executive reports that American Jews will be asked for $250 million to help Jewish community in Palestine.

December 19: Haganah attacks village of Khisas (Safed district) killing ten Palestinians.

December 20: Haganah attacks village of Qazaza (Ramleh district).

December 1947-January 1948: Arab Higher Committee organizes 275 local committees for defense of Palestinian towns and villages.

January: British sells 20 Auster planes to Jewish authorities in Palestine. Palestinian guerrilla leader 'Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini secretly returns to Palestine after ten-year exile to organize resistance to partition.

January 8: First contingent of 330 ALA volunteers arrives in Palestine.

January 14: The Haganah concludes $12,280,000 arms deal with Czechoslovakia, including 24,500 rifles, 5,200 machine guns and 54 million rounds of ammunition.

January 16: British report to UN estimates 1,974 people killed or injured in Palestine from 30 November 1947 - 10 January 1948.

January 20: British administration announces that predominantly Jewish or Palestinian areas will be gradually handed over to local majority group in every area concerned.

January 21 & 28: Second and third contingents of 360 and 400 ALA irregulars arrive in Palestine.

January-March: JNF leaders encourage eviction from villages of Haifa area.

February: Haganah office set up in US under name "Land and Labor" for recruitment of professional military personnel (MAHAL).

February 14: Ben-Gurion issues orders to Haganah commander in Jerusalem for conquest of whole city and its suburbs. February 18: Haganah calls up men and women aged 25 - 35 for military service. February 20: Ship Independence arrives at Tel Aviv with 280 volunteers under oath to Haganah on board, implementing policy of illegal immigration of military personnel.

February 24: US delegate to UN says role of Security Council regarding Palestine to keep peace, not enforce partition. Syrian delegate proposes appointment of Committee to explore possibility of Jewish Agency - Arab Higher Committee agreement. February 27: Jewish Agency announces it will establish state even without backing of an international force.

March: Transjordanian prime minister Tawfiq Abu al-Huda secretly meets British foreign secretary Bevin. They agree that Transjordanian forces will enter Palestine at end of Mandate but will restrict themselves to area of Arab state outlined in Partition Plan. March 2: US delegate tells Security Council US favors implementing partition by "peaceful measures" only.

March 5-7: Qawuqji enters Palestine and assumes command of ALA units in central Palestine.

March 6: Haganah declares general mobilization.

March 10: British House of Commons votes to terminate Mandate on May 15th.

March 19 - 20: US delegate asks UN Security Council to suspend action on partition plan and to convene General Assembly special session to work on a trusteeship and truce if Jews also accept. Jewish Agency rejects trusteeship.

March 19: Ben-Gurion declares Jewish state dependent not on UN partition decision but on Jewish military preponderance.

March 25: President Truman secretly receives Chaim Weizmann at White House and pledges support for declaration of Jewish state on May 15th.

March 30-May 15: Second coastal "clearing" operation carried out by Haganah Alexandroni brigade and other units. Attacks and expulsions drive out almost all Palestinian communities from coastal area from Haifa to Jaffa prior to British withdrawal.

April 1: Ship Nora delivers first consignment of Czech arms in Haifa. UN Security Council resolutions call for a special session of General Assembly and agree to US proposal for truce to be arranged through Jewish Agency and Arab Higher Committee.

April 2: Haganah captures Palestinian village of Castel, west of Jerusalem, expelling its inhabitants.

April 5: Palestinian and Zionist leaders object to US proposals presented to Security Council for temporary trusteeship agreement. Haganah launches Operation Nachshon (first phase of Plan Dalet); Haganah Giv'ati Brigade and other units capture villages along Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem road from local Palestinian militia. April 8: Haganah starts offensive against Palestinian town of Tiberias.

April 9: Abdel-Qadir Al-Husseini, charismatic Palestinian militia commander in Jerusalem district, is killed leading counterattack to recover Castel village. Irgun and Stern Gang massacre some 200 inhabitants in village of Deir Yassin, western suburb of Jerusalem and three miles from Castel.

April 12: General Zionist Council decides to establish independent Jewish state in Palestine on May 16th.

April 13-20: Operation Har'el under Plan Dalet launched at conclusion of Operation Nachshon. Villages along Jerusalem road attacked and demolished. All subsequent Haganah operations until May 15th undertaken within framework of Plan Dalet.

April 16: British evacuate town of Safed.

April 17: Security Council resolution calls for military and political truce. Haganah starts offensive against town of Safed.

April 20: US submits Palestine trusteeship plan to UN. April 21: British suddenly evacuate residential quarters of Haifa. April 22: Haganah launches Operation Misparayim to attack and occupy Haifa. Resistance of local Palestinian militia in Haifa collapses. Haifa's Palestinian population flees under combined shelling and ground offensives. April 25-31: Launching of Operation Chametz to conquer Jaffa, Haganah attacks suburban villages of Tell Rish, Yazur and Salameh. April 26: Lauching Operation Yevussi for conquest of whole of Jerusalem; Haganah attacks Palestinian residential quarter of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, cutting off the city from north, but are forced to hand it over to the British. Haganah's attempt at cutting off Jerusalem from Jericho fails.

April 27: Haganah announces coordination of plans with Irgun.

April 28-30: Palestinian ALA unit under Michel Issa succeeds in fighting its way into Jaffa in order to break Haganah siege.

April 30: All Palestinian quarters in West Jerusalem occupied by Haganah and residents driven out.

May 1: Lebanon and Syria decide to send troops to Palestine at end of Mandate on May 15th. May 2: Iraq dispatches troops to town of Mafraq, in Transjordan, en route to Palestine after May 15th. Three planeloads of arms for Haganah arrive from France.

May 3: Between 175,000 and 200,000 Palestinian refugees are reported to have fled from areas taken by Zionists. Jewish colonists from Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, ambush traffic on road to city.

May 4: Unit of Transjordan Arab Legion, operating in Palestine under British command, shells Gush Etzion in retaliation for ambush. British announces it is studying transitional trusteeship regime for Palestine to take effect at end of Mandate.

May 5: ALA unit under Michel Issa withdraws from Jaffa, ending city's resistance.

May 10: Haganah enters Jaffa.

May 11 - 12: Haganah captures Safed and surrounding villages.

May 12: State of emergency declared in all Arab countries and able-bodied Palestinian men barred entry to them.

Egyptian parliament decides to send troops to Palestine at end of Mandate. May 12-14: Arrival of second and third Czech arms consignments for Haganah.

May 13: Jaffa formally surrenders to Haganah.

May 14: State of Israel proclaimed in Tel Aviv at 4pm. Haganah launches Operation Schfifon for capture of Old City of Jerusalem.

May 15: British Mandate ends. Declaration of State of Israel comes into effect. President Truman recognizes State of Israel. First Egyptian troops cross border into Palestine and attack colonies of Kfar Darom and Nirim in Negev. Three Transjordanian Arab Legion brigades cross Jordan River into Palestine. Lebanese troops retake Lebanese villages of Malkiya and Qadas (on Lebanese border), attacked and captured earlier by Haganah.

From All that Remains, Walid Khalidi, Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington, 1992.

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