Shalom Life | July 22, 2014

The Establishment of Israel - A Photo Retrospective

Shalom Life and LIFE Magazine take you back to 1948

By: David Shear

Published: July 15th, 2012 in News » Israel

The Establishment of Israel - A Photo Retrospective

When World War II finally came to an end, Britain found itself in conflict with the Jewish community, as the Haganah joined Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors and refugees sought a new life far from their destroyed communities in Europe. The Yishuv attempted to bring these refugees to Palestine but many were turned away or rounded up and placed in detention camps by the British. In 1947, the British government announced it would withdraw from Mandatory Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.

On December 1 1947, the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a three-day strike, and Arab bands began attacking Jewish targets. The Jews were initially on the defensive as civil war broke out, but gradually moved onto the offensive. The Palestinian Arab economy collapsed and 250,000 Palestinian-Arabs fled or were expelled.

On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."

The following 20 photographs depict the struggles faced by these Jewish pioneers to settle in their new home, their home of Eretz Yisrael.

All photos taken from LIFE Magazine archives:

Jewish families leaving the old city through Zion's Gate. June 1948. John Phillips

Sandbagging in Tel Aviv. June 1948. Frank Scherschel


Jewish soldiers being guarded by Arab Legion soldiers after their surrender in Jerusalem. June 1948. John Phillips


Captured Jewish soldier sitting between two members of the Arab Legion. Jerusalem, Israel. June 1948. John Phillips

Click on the page numbers to the right for more photos.

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