PACE Maal-Hijrah Message – Sixty-five Years of Struggle and Going Strong (Lessons from the events that paved the way to the creation of the illegitimate state of Israel)
The birth of the illegitimate state of Israel on Palestine was in the year 1367 Hijri, corresponding to Gregorian calendar 1948. Next tuesday, 7th December 2010, ushers in the new Islamic calendar year, 1432 Hijri. Sixty-four years on, Palestine is still under occupation with no signs of letting up by the Zionist usurpers. Perhaps, it suits the occasion of Ma’al Hijrah to revisit the events of 1948 as the tragedy unfolded and engulfed the whole region in a bitter struggle right up to this day.
In the run-up to the 15th May 1948 deadline for the withdrawal of the British, the Jewish National Council has made the preparation to establish an independent Jewish state in Palestine. Meanwhile, British troops gradually withdrew from Palestinian villages paving the way for Jewish armed gangs to take over. Haifa was occupied by the Jewish thugs on the 22nd of April. They drove out the Palestinian inhabitants. They also took over Baitul Maqdis and drove the Muslims out at gunpoint. The Arabs and the Muslim world responded by holding huge rallies in protest. The mounting pressure has lead Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Arab League to deploy troops to take over from the departing British army. Meanwhile, the French was supplying heavy military equipments to the Haganah, giving them more firepower to harass the Palestinians and instill fear in them. At this point, almost 200,000 inhabitants have evacuated their homeland for fear of their safety and loved ones.
Running battles were fought between the ill-equipped Arab army and the more organized Jewish armed groups. Jaffa was relieved by the Egyptian army but was quickly rerouted and the city fell for the second time. By May 14th, the day the British officially left Palestine, the Jordanian army moved in and attacked some of the Jewish settlements forcing them to surrender. In retrospect, if the Arab army was more coordinated in their attack and more determined, the Zionist dreams of seeing the birth of the Jewish state of Israel could have been dashed. However, as the British left on May 14th, Ben Gurion did not wait until the 15th to proclaim the birth of Israel. Eleven minutes later, President Harry S. Truman declared the recognition of Israel on behalf of the United States of America. It was a clear indication that American support for Israel has been planned well in advance. They are just waiting for the official announcement from the Zionist.
The pull out of the British on May 15th set the Arab army in full motion. Iraqi, Syrian and Egyptian, Lebanese and Jordanian army agreed to deploy their forces to central Palestine. Egyptian army had set Ashkalon as their objective while the Jordanian was deployed to relief Baitul Maqdis and Ramallah. But they have done something that was counterproductive to the struggle. For some unknown reason, the Arab armies disarmed all Arab resistance groups including the guerilla organization headed by the grand mufti, Al-Haj Amin Husayni, the Salvation army and the Arab High Commission which had represented the Palestinians all those years in their struggle against the Jewish usurpers. As a result, their strength was reduced to just 24,000 official troops facing a 70,000 strong Jewish soldiers. The Haganah which was supplied by the British was no match for the Arab army. Although 82% of Palestine was still under their control, but as soon as the British garrison left, the Jewish forces took over. One after another, towns and villages inevitably fell into the Jewish hands. At this critical moment, Arab armed volunteer groups especially from al-Ikhwan Muslimun (the Muslim brotherhood) enlisted and moved to the borders. The Muslim brotherhood of Syria under the leadership of Al-Ustaz Mustafa As-Sibai launched their attack from Syria. The Muslim brotherhood of the Iraq under As-Syeikh Muhammad Mahmud Aswaf enlisted 15,000 volunteers from Iraq to fight in Palestine. The Iraqi government put one condition for Muslim brotherhood to fight i.e. they have to join the Salvation army of Al-Haj Amin Husayni. However, once agreement was reached between the two parties, the Salvation army was disbanded by the Arab army. One Syeikh, Abdul Latif Abu Qurah nonetheless succeeded in crossing the river Jordan into Palestine and encamped in Baitul Maqdis. The Egyptian government which has been very repressive on the Muslim brotherhood had to yield to the people of Egypt to allow the Ikhwan army under the leadership of Syeikh Ahmad Abdul Aziz, and trained by Mahmud Labib to cross into Palestine via Gaza. It should be mentioned also that there were 250 volunteers from Bosnia who joined in the jihad to liberate Palestine. These volunteer groups (the mujahidin) fought gallantly in the battlefields and caused a scathing defeat on the Zionist army on many fronts. The Palestinian themselves rallied around the ‘Al-Qassan’ group and fought with great fervor alongside the volunteer Ikhwan army.
On the 19th May, the Jewish army entered and seized the Old Jerusalem (Old city) but found them besieged by the Jordanian Army and Ikhwan from Jordan. Around 100,000 Jewish fighting men were trapped in the city. The UN Security council wasted no time to save the situation and forced the Arab countries to accept a ceasefire term that delivered the Jewish army from certain capitulation. The ceasefire was implemented and the Arab army withdrawn leaving behind the volunteers to keep up the fight with the Jewish army in the city. At this juncture, the Arabs have scored a series of blow to the Jews. The Egyptian army has routed the Jewish forces in Beersheba, Gaza and part of Nejev. The Iraqi army has retaken Jenin and the Jordanian army has liberated Jericho (Ariha) and the western sector of the Old City. They were encamped near Lydda and Ramallah and poised to take the entire city.
Perhaps these words from the British General Glubb Pasha, Commander of the Jordanian army is worth contemplating “If the Arabs had allowed their forces to finish the job and continue fighting on 15th May, they would probably have annihilated the emerging state of Israel.” Instead they observed the ceasefire imposed by the Western powers who certainly harbor great interest in seeing the birth of Israel. There was lull for four weeks while negotiations last until 11th June. Meanwhile the Jews took advantage of the situation by building up their reserves and enlisted Jewish army from Europe. Weapons were also brought in from the US. Shipments of weapons were delivered from Europe. The negotiations failed as both sides rejected them and hostilities resumed on the 9th June. The Arabs were surprised when they face a much stronger Jewish army equipped with heavy guns and military aircrafts. Obviously, the brief period of calm were optimally used by the Jews to amass and stockpile their arsenal. They clearly had the upper hand and swiftly relieved the 100,000 Jewish army besieged at Baitul Maqdis.
The Palestinians in their bid to preserve their homeland refused to recognize Israel. Al-Haj Amin Husayni was declared the leader of all of the Palestinians. The Arab regimes, however, refused to recognize the government of Al-Haj Amin Husaini forced him to leave Gaza. The threat came from none other than King Farouq of Egypt, who served the interest of the British in Egypt. At this point, the Palestinians were left to fend for themselves. They were strafed by fighters flown by pilots from Europe who were paid 5,000 pounds per month. The superior firepower of the Jewish army led to the loss of Palestinian land inch by inch. Out of 585 villages, 478 were destroyed by the Jewish thugs. Thirty-four massacres were committed on defenseless Palestinians especially women and children. More than 500,000 Palestinians fleed from their homes. The UN Security council again imposed a truce when everything has been lost. The volunteer fighters were ordered home and they were immediately arrested at the borders. On February 11, 1949, As-Syeikh Hassan Al-Banna, the supreme leader (mursyid-ul-am) the founder of al-Ikhwan Muslimin was assassinated and scores of its members were incarcerated.
On 24th February 1949, Egypt and Israel agreed to a ceasefire. Syria followed suit on 23rd March and Jordan on 4th April. Israel officially became a member of the United Nations and gain recognition from the whole world. Thus the state of Israel was established on the weakness, indecisiveness and betrayal of the Arab regimes.
The events of 1948 certainly served many lessons for the Muslim ummah. As we usher in the new Hijri year, we must ponder on this important part of our history. Let us take stock and be prepared in a struggle that’s beginning to turn in our favour. Israel is now on the defensive. They are retreating and losing grounds to ever achieve their utopic ‘Greater Israel’. Let us not waver in our quest to liberate our Holy Land. Let us be steadfast in defending our principles and not to be swayed by the empty promises of the Zionist who are now cornered and a spent force. . There is a good chance that we’ll see the end of Israel in our lifetime, InsyaAllah.
Dr. Hafidzi Mohd Noor
PACE (Palestine Centre of Excellence)
1 Muharram 1432 Hijriah