- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: Clarendon Press; Revised & enlarged edition (December 11, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198292627
- ISBN-13: 978-0198292623
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,667,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation, and the Countdown to the Suez War Revised & enlarged Edition
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"No one henceforth will be able to write on this period without reference to this basic study....Told with high regard for sources, in a smoothly written narrative that leaves the reader with a sense for how deep the antagonism between Arabs and Israelis really is."--Foreign Affairs
"Morris has thoroughly combed newly opened archival material...and newly published studies, to produce an exhaustive, often revealing...account of those seven years of Arab-Israeli hostilities."--The Jerusalem Report
From the Back Cover
This revised and updated paperback edition of a highly successful study looks at the development of Israel-Arab relations during the formative years 1949 to 1956, focusing on Arab infiltration into Israel and Israeli retaliation. Palestinian refugee raiding and cross-border attacks by Egyptian-controlled irregulars and commandos were a core phenomenon during this period and one of the chief causes of Israel's invasion of Egypt in 1956. This pioneering study, which has been expanded on the basis of much new, and recently declassified material from the IDF, deepens our understanding of the current situation in the Middle East, and of the prospects for a lasting peace there.
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I got much more than I bargained for.
This is not a blow by blow description of military operations but an epic survey of the border situation of Israel and its Arab neighbors in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s war of independence. Morris relied heavily on data from the archives of: Israel, the UN, and Britain (which covers a lot of the Jordanian side). He does not pull any punches in regards to tactics used by Israeli’s military or Arab terrorists.
Morris delves into the precarious state of Israel’s borders following the war as it struggles to secure a new country from infiltrators. The Israelis enacted a “shoot to kill” policy against all infiltrators and often placed brand new immigrants, who were unfamiliar with region, in border villages on the front lines. The new Israeli government worked to keep these people in place (and thus has to insure their security) in a situation where the former residents were sneaking back to the lands in order to work the fields, “steal” things left behind, and sometimes commit crimes including murder.
The Arab nations made frequent efforts to control the infiltrators with some notable successes and failures. Syria and Lebanon were fairly successful at controlling their borders, the Egyptians usually managed to insure that only “authorized” infiltrations got through, but the Jordanian frontier was far too vast to manage to despite the Jordanians best efforts (which were inconsistent).
Morris goes to lengths to explain that approximately 90% of the infiltrations were “economic” which included Arabs returning to lost land, recovering (or stealing) lost property, and even trying to till fields in their old properties. As the situation degenerated, infiltrators began carrying weapons with them to counter Israeli’s “shoot to kill” policy, resulting in scores of deaths. Eventually, certain groups (primarily Egyptian military intelligence) hired smugglers and former residents to carry out raids on Israeli targets, usually civilians. Israel responded with raids of its own, usually against Arab civilians who could not be tied to the original transgressions, and systematically claimed that these acts were the work of “settler vigilantes” rather than IDF troops. This policy changed after the 1953 raid on Qibya in which over 50 homes in Jordan were demolished. Following Qibya, the IDF generally targeted Police and military targets. However this actually escalated the tension between Israel and its neighbors which ultimately lead to the Suez War in 1956.
This book is one of best attempts I have read to get “the whole story” so I highly recommend it.
I can only suggest that the information here largely comes from from primary Israeli sources.
Judge for yourself. I found it important.
Middle East Quarterly, September 1994