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In late 1947 the British plan to withdraw from Palestine and the Arabs openly ignore the announcement of the United Nations to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. Col. David "Mickey" Marcus, West Point graduate, military adviser to Franklin Roosevelt, and D-Day veteran, is asked to reorganize the Haganah. Despite the objections of his wife, Emma, and Pentagon officials, Marcus accepts the responsibility. Upon his arrival in Palestine, he is informed that the underground army is outnumbered 60 to 1 and that its striking force is weakened by internal differences. Aiding Marcus in his program is Magda Simon, a soldier with whom he becomes romantically involved. Disturbed by news of Emma's ill health resulting from a miscarriage and the Haganah's reluctance to accept him as a leader, Marcus returns to the United States. While attempting to see whether the U. S. will be the first in the United Nations to recognize Israel, he becomes aware of his Jewish heritage and decides to go back and serve the new nation. He is reunited with Magda as the U. S. recognizes Israel. When word arrives that the U. N. has called for a cease-fire, Marcus is ordered to break through to Jerusalem before the truce takes effect. Several attacks fail until Marcus rallies the Jews to build a mountain pass. As victory comes, Marcus receives a letter from Emma offering him a divorce. Realizing how much he loves her, he says goodby to Magda and strolls into a monastery courtyard. Unable to speak or understand Hebrew, he ignores a sentry's warning and is accidentally killed a few hours before the truce takes effect.