Uri Avnery on the myths and realities of the 1948 war:

According to the Arab version, the Jews came from nowhere, attacked a peace-loving people and drove them out of their country.

According to the Zionist version, the Jews had accepted the United Nations compromise plan, but the Arabs had rejected it and started a bloody war, during which they were convinced by the Arab states to leave their homes in order to return with the victorious Arab armies.

Both these versions are utter nonsense - a mixture of propaganda, legend and hidden guilt feelings.

During the war I was a member of a mobile commando unit that was active all over the southern front. I was an eye-witness to what happened....

The 1948 war was actually two wars that blended into one. From December 1947 until May 1948 it was a war between the Arab and the Jewish population inside Palestine, from May until the armistices in early 1949 it was a war between the new Israeli army and the armies of the Arab countries – mainly Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq...

After the Arab armies entered the war in May, the Egyptians were stopped 22 km from Tel Aviv. A month-long cease-fire was decreed by the UN, and used by the Israeli side to equip itself for the first time with heavy arms (artillery, tanks, air force) sold them by Stalin. In the very heavy fighting in July, the balance shifted and the Israeli side slowly gained the upper hand.

From then on, a political – as distinguished from military – decision was taken to remove the Arab population. Units were ordered to shoot on sight every Arab who tried to return to their village.

The decisive moment came at the end of the war, when it was decided not to allow the refugees to return to their homes.