At stake in this civil war was Israel’s existence, and in the early months the Arabs appeared to be winning. By the end of March 1948, most of the Haganah’s armored car fleet lay in ruins, and Jewish West Jerusalem, with 100,000 residents, was under siege. Had the run of successful Arab convoy ambushes continued, and had Jerusalem gone under, it seems certain that the armies of the Arab states that invaded the country seven weeks later would have aborted the tiny state before its birth.
Instead, in April 1948, with its back to the wall, the Yishuv (in Hebrew, the Settlement)—as the 630,000-strong Jewish community in Palestine called itself—struck back. In a series of campaigns lasting six weeks, they battled mercilessly with the Palestinian Arab militias and overran dozens of Arab villages and towns. Slowly but surely, the balance of the war began to tip in their favor. [-]