Middle East Studies

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Palestine 1948

War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem

Yoav Gelber is Professor of History at the University of Haifa and Head of the Herzl Institute for Research and Study of Zionism. He is the author of a number of books on Middle East affairs, including: Jewish–Transjordanian Relations, 1921–1948 (Frank Cass, 1997).


Based on new or newly interpreted Israeli, British and Arab documents, this book attempts to integrate present controversies concerning the development of the Jewish–Palestinian war from December 1947 to mid-May 1948 and the consecutive Israeli–Arab war. It follows the organization of both sides at the beginning of the war and the shaping of their respective war policies. Further, it describes the creation of the invading coalition and its disintegration in the wake of the Arab armies’ military failure.

The book stresses mainly the processes that led Palestinian society to its collapse and mass flight and the Israeli reactions and policies that turned this temporary escape into a long-lasting refugee problem. Emphasizing the different historical and cultural perspectives of the adversaries and the context of the war’s development, it criticizes the approach of the Israeli “New Historians” who tend to isolate the refugee problem from the broader issues of the war and treat it separately.

Includes a glossary of Arab/Israeli wartime operations

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-902210-67-4
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $85.00
Release Date: November 2000
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-075-0
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $39.95
Release Date: December 2005
Page Extent / Format: 400 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Foreword by Walter Lacquer
List of Abbreviations


1 The Outbreak and Expansion of Hostilities
2 The Palestinians' Organization for War
3 The Arab League's Intervention
4 Shaping the Yishuv's War Policy
5 The Beginnings of the Palestinians' Mass-Flight
6 From a Civil War to Regular Warfare
7 Palestinian Society's Collapse
8 The Arab Regular Armies' Invasion of Palestine
9 Fighting and Flight after the Invasion
10 The Ten-Day Campaign and the Second Truce
11 The Palestinians' Decay
12 Diplomacy and Intrigues
13 Operations in the Negev
14 The End of the War with Lebanon and Syria
15 Ending the War with Egypt and Transjordan
16 Welcoming the Refugees in the Arab States
17 From Flight to Refugeeism: Blocking the Return


Appendixes: I History and Invention: Was Plan D a Blueprint for "Ethnic Cleansing?"; II Propaganda as History: What Happened at Deir Yassin?; III Folklore
versus History: The Tantura Blood Libel

Sources and Bibliography

Recommended for its contribution to a continuing debate over a controversial issue.

There have been flashier histories of Israel’s war of independence, and longer ones, but none as well informed, more sensible and more compelling than Gelber’s magisterial account.
Middle East Quarterly

Yoav Gelber's contribution to the literature on 1948 is useful for its detailed chronology of ‘Israel’s most significant and triumphal’ campaign against the Arabs … The book’s value lies in its shedding light on the loose alliances unfolding in the Middle East.
Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Oxford University Press

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