In November 1947, a United Nations (UN) resolution agreed partition of British Palestine into separate, independent Jewish and Arab states. It was further specified that the area of paramount religious significance – the environs of Jerusalem – would be placed under UN control. Arab states, and the Palestinian Arabs, violently rejected the accord; mass flight of Arabs from territory allocated to Israel began, while Jewish residents of Jerusalem were blockaded by Palestinian militants. On Independence Day (15 May), Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq invaded. At the outset, the Israelis had no air defence, were outgunned and outnumbered, and had rapidly to combine the various paramilitary groups who had fought the British into a national army, the Israel Defence Force (IDF). While the Egyptians surged up the coast towards Jaffa, and Iraqis and Syrian forces occupied much of the north, the embattled Israelis, critically, kept control of a route into Jerusalem.
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