From May 1948, the balance of military power swung decisively in Israel’s favour. A rapid inflow of volunteers from home and abroad gave them troop parity by June 1948, a 2:1 advantage six months later. A steady supply of fighter planes from Czechoslovakia gave Israel command of the air, while resourceful engineering created a navy from civilian shipping and tanks from cannibalized parts. After two truces, in which mediation failed (and the UN negotiator was assassinated by militant Zionists), fighting recommenced in October, and the Israelis rapidly went onto the offensive, securing their borders with Lebanon and Syria within the month. The focus then moved south against the Egyptian forces. After quickly capturing Beersheba and Ashdod, the Israelis raced to encircle the Egyptian forces in the Sinai, and then Gaza, but were forced to desist by British-American pressure. By the war’s end in March 1949, the Israelis had reached the Red Sea.
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