Operation Balak

audiobook (Unabridged) The History of the Weapons Smuggling Operation that Helped Israel Win the 1948 Arab-Israeli War

By Charles River Editors

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Less than two weeks after the creation of Israel, the state's leader, David Ben-Gurion, announced the creation of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This represented the combined military forces that would protect the new state, and while it might have sounded impressive on paper, the reality was very different. The new army was comprised mainly of ex-members of several paramilitary organizations that had fought for the establishment of the new state, but they lacked heavy weapons, armor and air defenses. The Israeli navy and air force did not exist other than as largely notional organizations, and at the beginning of 1948, the Israeli Air Force did not possess a single combat aircraft of any type.

To many outsiders, the defeat of the nascent Jewish state seemed a certainty, yet in an unbelievably short space of time, and despite international embargoes on the export of arms to the region, Israel was able to procure sufficient arms to equip its armed forces and to successfully defend its territory in what became known as the War of Independence (also known as First Arab–Israeli War).

This was not the last war that Israel would fight, nor the largest, but its very survival as a state depended on avoiding complete military defeat in 1948. The efforts to do so were tied to a series of secret operations that provided the aircraft and weapons that enabled Israel to survive the First Arab–Israeli War. The smuggling would center on procuring advanced European weaponry, which ironically meant that some of the weapons that reached Israel hailed from none other than Nazi Germany. 

Operation Balak