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The State of Israel was formed in May 14, 1948.

I guess the first Arab-Israel war broke out in the same month of the same year.

Israel won the war decisively.

The question is not "How did they win the war?"

The question is, "How did they build up their military within days of the inception of the State of Israel?"

Who helped them to build their Military so quickly?

Where did they find military hardware so quickly?

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Just as India and Pakistan had an army on day 1 of their existence. No state exists without first building an army (except when another state's army assists them first). The army in question was previously the provincial government's (Britain's) army. It became the Israeli army once Israel came into existence. –  Monster Truck Nov 24 '12 at 9:09
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@MonsterTruck, Wouldn't the army have been mostly British? I'd have thought that Britain would have pulled out along with their army. –  Russell Nov 24 '12 at 10:25
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According to Wikipedia, it was mass conscription. –  Russell Nov 24 '12 at 10:40
    
@Russell The British did leave but the Haganah/IDF/Jewish Brigade etc… (some of which were technically part of the British army before) didn't. They were reorganised into the modern day IDF (Israel Defense Forces). –  Monster Truck Nov 25 '12 at 0:50
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@Russell That you answered --mass conscription. But an army is more than people. The infrastructure existed already. –  Monster Truck Nov 25 '12 at 4:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The Arab-Israeli conflict didn't start in 1948, it has a long history and was particularly intensified after the British government promised Palestine both to its Arab and Jewish population in the course of World War I. The first armed conflict is apparently assumed to be the Battle of Tel Hai in 1920.

As a result, while Israel didn't exist before 1948 there was already a number of Jewish paramilitary organizations like Haganah, Irgun, Lehi. You can read the details in Wikipedia's history of the Israel Defense Forces but the point is: the army didn't come out of nowhere, it was created around existing organizations that came out in the open. Obviously, these were reinforced by a mass conscription once war broke out but there were existing structures available to integrate new arrivals in.

As to the military equipment, there was apparently a lot of it smuggled into the country over the earlier years. France was also an important source of weaponry, at that time it was the only country to sell weapons to Israel (later replaced by the United States).

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"The Battle" of Tel Hai in 1920 is a peculiar choice of wording: 8 killed vs 5 killed... Thus decisive Arab victory! No kidding, everything is in Wikipedia. –  kubanczyk Nov 24 '12 at 19:36
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@kubanczyk: Your point posting this non-sense? –  Wladimir Palant Nov 25 '12 at 21:29
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@corsiKa: You are wrong. –  Wladimir Palant Nov 26 '12 at 16:34
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Wasn't Czech republic also a source of weapons alongside France? Or was that later on? –  DVK Nov 27 '12 at 18:29
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@WladimirPalant - who said it was without approval? Remember that USSR started out VERY pro-Israel, thinking it will be another Socialist Paradize based on who was running things there (yeah, I know it is deeply schitzophrenic relative to Stalin's ideas about jews in 1952/3) –  DVK Nov 27 '12 at 21:18

The Israel had a number of paramilitary groups which had been training, stockpiling arms long before the 1948 war, many Jews joined the British forces during ww2 to gain military experience. The Zionists had created a shadow army and had stockpiled weapons for a long time before 1948.

The Local Arab forces were very disorganised divided and had little weaponry by comparison, and their supporters in other Arab states were reluctant to effectively arm them no lest because they were keen to suppress any possible Palestinian state and annex land the could form that state.

The Arab intervention forces were poorly organised and equipped in General and very divided politically. The Arab Legion was pretty well equipped and organised (though not that well supplied with ammunition that had not stockpiled well and the blockade of resupply was much more effective on Arab forces than Zionist forces, who were better able to circumvent the arms embargo during the war and cease fires) Jordan sought to reach an understanding with the Zionist leadership and was primarily focused on annexing much or the proposed Palestinian state rather than attacking the new state of Israel the only real disagreement being Jerusalem. Syrians were involved in a limited land Grab, the Lebanese made a demonstration not an attack, and Iraqi forces were troublemakers shipped off rather than supported army force.

The Syrians used extremely dated pre ww2 French tanks of dubious value. The Israeli forces were not fighting well developed and equipped armies. The Arab states were also fairly new, badly equipped with obsolete weapons operating in many cases a long distances from the logistical bases.

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second paragraph is bogus. There was no concept of "Palestinians" until AFTER the 1948 war, when Jordan and Syria invented the term to unite the Arabs they'd forcibly displaced out of Israel against Israel. The Arab locals in Israel were as well armed as the Israeli locals, mostly with assorted WW1 and WW2 era rifles and pistols. On the Israeli side though, the armed forces had detachments in most towns and Kibutzin in anticipation of an attack and raids by Arab bandits, which helped enormously during the early stages of the conflict. –  jwenting Mar 4 at 8:08
    
Yes there was a concept of Palestinians before 1948. My wife who was born early 1948 in what is now Northern Israel has Palestine as the place of her birth on her birth certificate. –  ExpatEgghead Mar 4 at 8:34
    
"Palestinian" meant "Jew" until 1960-ies, when PLO hijacked the term. –  sds Mar 4 at 20:42
    
The various Palestinian Arab Congresses 'en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Arab_Congress –  pugsville Mar 6 at 5:20
    

As a matter of fact, the 1948 war actually started on November 30th, 1947 - the day after the UN Partition Resolution, as the Arabs vowed not to accept it. The first phase of the war pitted Palestine Arab irregular warbands against Jewish paramilitary formations - the mainstream Haganah, the more nationalist Irgun, and the really really radical Lehi. The Arabs were largely beaten in this phase. During the second phase, the armies of five regular Arab states invaded the newly formed State of Israel and by and large met with defeat. (The only one of them to acquit itself well was the Transjordanian Arab Legion, a British-trained and partially British-officered unit).

The main brunt of the first phase of the fighting was borne by the Haganah. Where did it come from? Well, for the duration of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Jews were building, with British sanction, the institutions of a proto-state, usually called in later historiography "medina shebaderech", literally meaning Hebrew for "a state on its way". This included democratic elections of quasi-executive and quasi-legislative councils, trade unions, healthcare institutions etc. (Wikipedia is very brief on this - but still worth a look). It was also building a paramilitary capacity, known as the Haganah - unlike the rest of the institutions, this was mostly against British wishes. (Haganah-British relations are a somewhat complicated subject, which I haven't time to treat here fully). Haganah was also practicing a form of "voluntary conscription" - young men were expected by their society to join its training for a year; those who declined to do so were socially frowned upon.

So, when the newborn Israel needed an army, it had the nucleus of one - Haganah. This is the story in brief.

One source which treats this from an interesting angle is a chapter in the book Supreme Command by E.Cohen.

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