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Old March 25th, 2008 #1
Join Date: May 2006
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Default the massacre at Deir Yassin by the Israelis

Early in the morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. The village lay outside of the area to be assigned by the United Nations to the Jewish State; it had a peaceful reputation. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Deir Yassin was slated for occupation under Plan Dalet and the mainstream Jewish defense force, the Haganah, authorized the irregular terrorist forces of the Irgun and the Stern Gang to perform the takeover.

In all over 100 men, women, and children were systematically murdered. Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City, where they were found by Miss Hind Husseini and brought behind the American Colony Hotel to her home, which was to become the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi orphanage.

Part of the struggle for self-determination by Palestinians has been to tell the truth about Palestinians as victims of Zionism. For too long their history has been denied, and this denial has only served to further oppress and deliberately dehumanize Palestinians in Israel, inside the occupied territories, and outside in their diaspora.

Some progress has been made. Westerners now realize that Palestinians, as a people, do exist. And they have come to acknowledge that during the creation of the state of Israel, thousands of Palestinians were killed and over 700,000 were driven or frightened from their homes and lands on which they had lived for centuries.

Deir Yassin Remembered seeks similar progress on behalf of the victims of the Deir Yassin Massacre . . .

"Behind the creation of Israel is a wound that after six decades continues to fester and refuses to heal... There is immense pressure in Western educational systems to teach the lessons of the Holocaust... Yet Holocaust lessons are rarely applied to the continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people." (Continued...)

WWW Deir Yassin remembered
Old March 25th, 2008 #2
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,201

Deir Yassin massacre
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948 when between 107 and 120[1] Palestinian Arabs, predominantly old men, women and children[2] living in the village of Deir Yassin (transliterated Hebrew: Dirat HaYasmin) near Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine were murdered by Jewish Irgun-Lehi force. It occurred while Yishuv forces fought to break the siege of Jerusalem during the period of civil war that preceded the end of the Mandate.

Contemporary reports gave an initial estimate of 250 killed.[3] These had a considerable impact on the conflict and became a major cause of the Arab civilian flight from Palestine.[3][4]

The incident was universally condemned at the time, including repudiations from the Haganah command and the Jewish Agency.[5] While discussion continues, very few English-language history books raise serious doubts that a massacre occurred.[6]

The military scholar Uri Milstein maintains that massacres were not uncommon during the war and that the events at Deir Yassin were unique only in the manner they were "seized upon and publicized by all involved parties, albeit for a variety of different reasons."

Har Nof in Jerusalem is partially built on the location of the site of Deir Yassin.Contents [hide]

[edit] Historical background
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations passed UN Resolution 181, calling for the internationalization of Jerusalem and the partition of the British Mandate into Arab and Jewish states. In December, as the British rule was wound down, tensions, widespread disagreements and occasional fighting between Jews and Arabs boiled over into rioting and low-intensity warfare. On the day the Mandate ended, 14 May 1948, a new State of Israel was officially declared and the fighting escalated soon afterward, becoming the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

In the months leading up to the end of the Mandate, in a phase of the war known as "The Battle of [the] Roads",[citation needed] the Arab League-sponsored Arab Liberation Army (ALA) (composed of Palestinian and other Middle Eastern Arabs) attacked Jewish communities in Palestine and Jewish traffic on major roads in an effort to isolate Jewish communities from each other. The ALA managed to seize several strategic vantage points along the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – Jerusalem's sole supply route and link to its western side where 16% of all Jews in Palestine lived – and began firing on convoys travelling to the city. By March 1948, the road was cut off and Jerusalem was under siege.

In response, the Haganah decided to launch a major counteroffensive, Operation Nachshon, to break the siege. It would become the first large-scale military operation in the ensuing Arab-Israeli conflict. On 6 April, in an effort to secure strategic positions, the Haganah and its strike force, the Palmach, attacked al-Qastal, a village two kilometers north of Deir Yassin overlooking the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. Days of intense fighting followed as control of the village remained contested and convoys continued to try to reach Jerusalem. On 9 April, on their own initiative[citation needed], Irgun-Lehi forces attacked the nearby Deir Yassin. The rationale and authority justifying their action remain controversial.

[edit] Overview of the event and its consequences
Early in the morning of Friday, April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. It was several weeks before the end of the British Mandate. The village lay outside of the area that the United Nations recommended be included in a future Jewish State. Deir Yassin had a peaceful reputation and was even said by a Jewish newspaper to have driven out some Arab militants. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and one plan, kept secret until years afterwards, called for it to be destroyed and the residents evacuated to make way for a small airfield that would supply the beleaguered Jewish residents of Jerusalem.

By noon over 100 people, half of them women and children, had been systematically murdered. Four commandos died at the hands of resisting Palestinians using old Mausers and muskets. Twenty-five male villagers were loaded into trucks, paraded through the Zakhron Yosef quarter in Jerusalem, and then taken to a stone quarry along the road between Givat Shaul and Deir Yassin and shot to death. The remaining residents were driven to Arab East Jerusalem.

That evening the Irgunists and the Sternists escorted a party of foreign correspondents to a house at Givat Shaul, a nearby Jewish settlement founded in 1906. Over tea and cookies they amplified the details of the operation and justified it, saying Deir Yassin had become a concentration point for Arabs, including Syrians and Iraqis, planning to attack the western suburbs of Jerusalem. They said that 25 members of the Haganah militia had reinforced the attack and claimed that an Arabic-speaking Jew had warned the villagers over a loudspeaker from an armored car. This was duly reported in The New York Times on April 10.

A final body count of 254 was reported by The New York Times on April 13, a day after they were finally buried. By then the leaders of the Haganah had distanced themselves from having participated in the attack and issued a statement denouncing the dissidents of Irgun and the Stern Gang, just as they had after the attack on the King David Hotel in July 1946. A 1987 study undertaken by Birzeit University's Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society found "the numbers of those killed does not exceed 120".

The Haganah leaders admitted that the massacre "disgraced the cause of Jewish fighters and dishonored Jewish arms and the Jewish flag." They played down the fact that their militia had reinforced the terrorists' attack, even though they did not participate in the barbarism and looting during the subsequent "mopping up" operations.

They also played down the fact that, in Begin's words, "Deir Yassin was captured with the knowledge of the Haganah and with the approval of its commander" as a part of its "plan for establishing an airfield."

Ben Gurion even sent an apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But this horrific act served the future State of Israel well. According to Begin:

Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of "Irgun butchery," were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.

Of about 144 houses, 10 were dynamited. The cemetery was later bulldozed and, like hundreds of other Palestinian villages to follow, Deir Yassin was wiped off the map. By September, Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland, Rumania, and Slovakia were settled there over the objections of Martin Buber, Cecil Roth and other Jewish leaders, who believed that the site of the massacre should be left uninhabited. The center of the village was renamed Givat Shaul Bet. As Jerusalem expanded, the land of Deir Yassin became part of the city and is now known simply as the area between Givat Shaul and the settlement of Har Nof on the western slopes of the mountain.

The massacre of Palestinians at Deir Yassin is one of the most significant events in 20th-century Palestinian and Israeli history. This is not because of its size or its brutality, but because it stands as the starkest early warning of a calculated depopulation of over 400 Arab villages and cities and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian inhabitants to make room for survivors of the Holocaust and other Jews from the rest of the world.[9]

[edit] Background to the military operation

[edit] Political and historical background of the attacking forces
The main Jewish forces participating in the Deir Yassin attack belonged to two underground Jewish paramilitary groups, the Irgun (Etzel) (National Military Organization) and the Lehi (Freedom Fighters of Israel).

During the Great Uprising (1936-1939) of the Arabs in Palestine, in which more than 320 Jews were killed in Arab attacks, the Irgun in turn carried out attacks against Arabs, which are believed to have killed at least 250[citation needed]. Irgun's tactics, which included bus and marketplace bombings, were condemned by both the British mandate authorities and the mainstream Zionist leadership, the Jewish Agency.

Lehi, an Irgun splinter group, was formed in 1940 following Irgun's decision to declare a truce with the British during World War Two. Lehi subsequently carried out a series of assassinations designed to force the British out of Palestine. Both Irgun and Lehi were strong ideological nationalist groups, with a long history of terrorism, aligned with the right-wing Revisionist movement.

The third group which took part in the attack on Deir Yassin was the Palmach, the armed wing of the mainstream Jewish Haganah (Defense) organization, whose membership eventually formed the nucleus of the Israeli Army, and whose leadership was aligned with the political left (see Mapai). The Palmach's role in the attack appears to have been limited to a brief but decisive intervention in the closing stages of the battle. Unlike the other two organizations, the Palmach has never been accused of taking part in the massacre which is said to have followed the battle.

Because of the political differences and mutual hostility between the Haganah and Irgun/Lehi, Deir Yassin became an issue of mutual recrimination between the various Jewish nationalist factions in Palestine and their successor political parties in Israel, one which continues to the present day.

[edit] The Village and Irgun and Lehi Activity
At this time the Irgun and Lehi had not made any major offensive action by their ground forces yet. The guerrillas consisted of a mix of hardened veterans and some inexperienced teenagers. The Arab village of Deir Yassin was situated on a hill which overlooked the main highway entering Jerusalem (although a direct line of sight from the village to the highway was blocked by a ridge below). Deir Yassin was also adjacent to a number of Jerusalem's western neighborhoods. The pathway connecting the town to nearby Givat Shaul and the elevation of the hills in the area made control of the town attractive as an airstrip.

Deir Yassin was different from al-Qastel that had recently been attacked by the Haganah, in that it did not participate directly in the conflict. The villagers reportedly wanted to remain neutral in the war and they had repeatedly resisted help and alliances with the Palestinian irregulars. Instead they had made a pact with Haganah to not help the irregulars as long as they were not the target of military operations.[10]

The inhabitants had even remained cooperative while the Haganah took the strategic Sharafa ridge between Deir Yassin and the nearby ALA base Ein Karem. Haganah intelligence confirmed after the village had been captured that it in fact had stayed "faithful allies of the western Jerusalem sector".[11]

Yoma Ben-Sasson, Haganah commander in Givat Shaul, later recalled that "there was not even one incident between Deir Yassin and the Jews".[12]

[edit] Battle Plans
During the battle for Kastel, the Irgun and Lehi took their plan to attack Deir Yassin to Haganah for coordination. Rivalry between them made matters tense. According to Meir Pa'il: The commanders of the underground groups came to Shaltiel [the Haganah district commander], and asked for his approval. Shaltiel was surprised by their choice and asked: "Why go to Deir Yassin? It is a quiet village. There is a non-aggression pact between Givat Shaul and the Mukhtar of Deir Yassin. The village is not a security problem in any way. Our problem is in the battle for the Qastel. I suggest you participate in the operations in that area. I will give you a base in Bayit Vagan, and from there you will take over Ein Kerem, which is providing Arab reinforcements to the Qastel."[13]

The Zionist irregulars refused to change their minds and complained that the proposed mission would be too hard for them. Shaltiel ultimately yielded and wrote in a letter to the underground commanders that he allows them to attack the village, provided that they could hold it thereafter.[14]

Shaltiel's consent was met with internal resistance. Meir Pa'il objected to violating the agreement with the village but Shaltiel maintained that he had no power to stop the guerillas. Yitzchak Levi proposed that the inhabitants should be notified that the truce was over but Shaltiel refused to endanger the operation by warning them.[15] During some of the preliminary meetings the idea of a massacre was discussed and rejected.[16] A Lehi proposal suggested "liquidating" them "to show what happens when the IZL [Irgun] and the Lehi set out together."[17]

According to most insider accounts, instructions were given to minimize casualties, some guerillas nonetheless anticipated inciting panic throughout Arab Palestine by their actions in Deir Yassin.[18]

[edit] The attack
This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards.
Please improve this article if you can. (November 2006)

The attack force consisted of about 132 men, 72 from Irgun and 60 from Lehi as well as a few women to serve as support.

From Givat Shaul a Lehi unit approached Deir Yassin, accompanied with Meir Pa'il and a photographer "to watch their military performance".[19]

One Irgun unit moved towards Deir Yassin from the east, while a second approached it from the south. At 4:45 a.m. the fighting started when concealed Irgunists encountered a village guard.[20]

The road south-westward towards Ein Kerem filled with panicked villagers fleeing.

Villager fire inflicted heavy casualties and drove off the Irgun. The Lehi units advance stopped at the town's center where they were only holding the eastern parts. The attacker's fighting capability matched their progress, weapons failed to work, a few tossed hand-grenades without pulling the plug, and a Lehi unit commander, Amos Keynan, was wounded by his own men.[21]

While both Irgun and Lehi commanders had anticipated many residents would flee, and the remaining would surrender after token resistance, both groups of Jewish assaulters, entering the town from different sides, immediately encountered fierce volleys of Arab rifle fire.

Irgun deputy commander Michael Harif, one of the first to enter Deir Yassin, later recalled how, early in the battle, "I saw a man in khaki run ahead. I thought he was one of us, I ran after him and told him, 'Move ahead to that house!' Suddenly he turned, pointed his weapon at me and fired. He was an Iraqi soldier. I was wounded in the leg".[20] Patchiah Zalivensky of Lehi recalled that among the Arab soldiers killed by his unit was a Yugoslavian Muslim officer.[22]

The villagers sniper fire from higher positions in the west contained effectively the attack, especially from the mukhtar's (= mayor's) house. Some Lehi units went for help from the Haganah's Camp Schneller in Jerusalem.[23]

Intense Arab firepower caused the assaulters' advance into Deir Yassin to be very slow. Reuven Greenberg reported later that "the Arabs fought like lions and excelled at accurate sniping". He added that "[Arab] women ran from the houses under fire, collected the weapons which had fallen from the hands of Arab fighters who had been wounded, and brought them back into the houses".[24] In certain cases, after storming a house, dead Arab women were found with guns in their hands, a sign they had taken part in the battle.[25]

Ezra Yachin recalled, "To take a house, you had either to throw a grenade or shoot your way into it. If you were foolish enough to open doors, you got shot down — sometimes by men dressed up as women, shooting out at you in a second of surprise".[26]

Briefings before the battle had stated that most of the houses in Deir Yassin had wooden doors, so, while trying to storm them, the assaulters were surprised to discover the doors were made of iron, leaving no recourse but to blow them open with powerful explosives, killing and wounding some inhabitants. The Lehi forces slowly advanced house by house.[27]

Meanwhile, the Irgun soldiers on the other side of the village, were having a very difficult time. By 7:00 a.m., discouraged by the Arab resistance and their own increasing casualties, Irgun commanders relayed a message to the Lehi camp that they were seriously considering retreating from the town. Lehi commanders relayed back that they had already entered the village and expected victory soon.

The large number of wounded was a big problem for the guerillas: they had to be evacuated but if they did they could be fired upon. Meret called the Magen David Adom station for an ambulance that came to the battle area. The attackers took beds out of the houses, laid the wounded on them and ordered the inhabitants of the village, including women and old people, to carry the beds to the ambulance and to screen them. They believed the Arabs would not shoot their own people, which however they did.[28]

The Irgun quickly arranged to receive a supply of explosives from their base in Givat Shaul, and started blasting their way into house after house. In certain instances, the force of the explosions collapsed whole parts of houses, burying Arab soldiers as well as civilians who were still inside.

In numerous instances Arabs emerged from the houses and surrendered; over 100 were taken prisoner by day's end. At least two Haganah members on the scene reported the Lehi repeatedly using a loudspeaker to implore the residents to surrender.[22][29]

In certain cases Arabs pretending to surrender revealed hidden weapons and shot at their would-be Jewish captors, according to the testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik.[30] Benny Morris, has characterized Gorodenchik's testimony as confused.[31]

At about 10:00 am a sizeable Palmach unit from the Haganah arrived. They brought an armored vehicle and a two-inch mortar.[32] The mortar was fired three times at the mukhtar's house which silenced its snipers. The Palmach unit managed to clear the village of serious resistance and Lehi officer David Gottlieb saw the Palmach accomplish "in one hour what we could not accomplish in several hours."[33]

[edit] The loudspeaker truck
Before the battle the Irgun had prepared a truck with a loudspeaker to warn the villagers of the attack. It is unclear whether the Truck reached the battle scene. The truck left Givat Shaul a few minutes before 5:00 AM as planned, and by then the battle had already started.[citation needed] According to Irgun leader Menachem Begin the truck was driven to the entrance of the area and broadcast a warning to the civilians. Other sources say that the truck never reached the village and still others claim that the truck came within a relatively small distance from the village.[citation needed] Other sources claim that the truck rolled into a ditch caused by Palestinian gunfire before it could broadcast its warning.[citation needed] According to Ezra Yachin, "After we filled in the ditch we continued traveling. We passed two barricades and stopped in front of the third, 30 meters away from the village. One of us called out on the loudspeaker in Arabic, telling the inhabitants to put down their weapons and flee. I don't know if they heard, and I know these appeals had no effect. We alighted from the armored car and joined the attack." Whether or not the truck's message was heard by the villagers is unclear. It is known, however that hundreds of Deir Yassin residents did flee, and those who did were not pursued by the Irgun.[34][20]

[edit] After the battle
The fighting was over at about 11:00 am. The fighters begin to clean up the houses to secure them. Irgun's commander Ben-Zion Cohen noted: "[We] felt a desire for revenge." One villager has stated that the attackers appeared to have been set off by an Irgun commander's death, still others reported that upon discovering an armed man disguised as a woman, one guerrilla began shooting everyone around, followed by his comrades joining in. In the afternoon prisoners were taken on the village trucks to a victory parade in the Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem before they were released in Arab East Jerusalem. Fahimi Zeidan testified that they "put us in trucks and drove us around the Jewish quarters, all while cursing us." Harry Levin, a Haganah broadcaster, reported seeing "three trucks driving slowly up and down King George V Avenue bearing men, women, and children, their hand above their heads, guarded by Jews armed with sten-guns and rifles."[35]

[edit] The massacre claims
Milstein writes: The story of the Deir-Yassin massacre is now part of the heritage of both Arabs and Jews.[36] Sharif Kananah, of Bir Zeit University, came in a detailed study to an estimate of 110-120 killed villagers,[1] an estimate generally accepted by other authors.[37][38]

Of the many eyewitness accounts, only the core IZL narrative differs from the Arab and the remaining Israeli narratives.[39] Morris attributes this in part to the: unstated semantic differences over what constitutes a "massacre".[39] He summarizes, drawing on work of Milstein and Khalidi, but also on the investigation of the Bir Zeit University and on the Israeli documentation, that: Combatants and noncombatants were gunned down in the course of the house-to-house fighting, and, subsequently, after the battle, groups of prisoners and noncombatants were killed in separate, sporadic acts of frenzy and revenge in different parts of the village and outside of Deir Yassin. The remaining villagers were then expelled. But this was no Srebrenica.[40]

[edit] Eyewitness accounts
Meir Pa'il's eyewitness account is one of the most detailed single eye witness accounts of the massacre, as he claims to have been at the scene while it happened. Pa'il was a spy for the mainstream Jewish organizations in Palestine monitoring the activities of the right-wing or "dissident" groups. He stated that he:

"... started hearing shooting in the village. The fighting was over, yet there was the sound of firing of all kinds from different houses ... Sporadic firing, not like you would [normally] hear when they clean a house.". He also stated that no commanders directed the actions, just groups of guerillas running about "full of lust for murder".[41]
Historian Uri Milstein says: "On a massacre following the battle there is only the account of Me’ir Pa’il, who claims that he was in the village during and after the battle," and notes that Irgun members denied seeing Pa’il there. [42]

Mordechai Gihon's eyewitness account: Mordechai Gihon was a Haganah intelligence officer in Jerusalem. He was in the village at the afternoon of April 9. He reported:-

"Before we got to the village we saw people carrying bodies to the quarry east of Deir Yassin. We entered the village around 3:00 in the afternoon . . . In the village there were tens of bodies. The dissidents got them out of the roads. I told them not to throw the bodies into cisterns and caves, because that was the first place that would be checked..."
"I didn't count the dead. I estimated that there were four pits full of bodies, and in each pit there were 20 bodies, and several tens more in the quarry. I throw out a number, 150."[43]
Eliahu Arbel's eyewitness account: Eliahu Arbel arrived at the scene April 10. He was an Operations Officer B of the Haganah's Etzioni Brigade. He reported:-

"I saw the horrors that the fighters had created. I saw bodies of women and children, who were murdered in their houses in cold blood by gunfire, with no signs of battle and not as the result of blowing up the houses. From my experience I know well, that there is no war without killing, and that not only combatants get killed. I have seen a great deal of war, but I never saw a sight like Deir Yassin."[44]
Jacques de Reynier's eyewitness account: Jacques de Reynier was a French-Swiss Representative of the International Red Cross. He came to the village on April 11. He reported:-

"... a total of more than 200 dead, men, women, and children. About 150 cadavers have not been preserved inside the village in view of the danger represented by the bodies' decomposition. They have been gathered, transported some distance, and placed in a large trough (I have not been able to establish if this is a pit, a grain silo, or a large natural excavation). ... [One body was] a woman who must have been eight months pregnant, hit in the stomach, with powder burns on her dress indicating she'd been shot point-blank.".[45]
Dr. Alfred Engel's eyewitness account: Alfred Engel went to Deir Yassin with Jacques de Reynier, his conclusion is similar to de Reynier's. He reported:-

"In the houses there were dead, in all about a hundred men, women and children. It was terrible. ... It was clear that they (the attackers) had gone from house to house and shot the people at close range. I was a doctor in the German army for 5 years, in World War I, but I had not seen such a horrifying spectacle."[46]
Yeshurun Schiff's eyewitness account: Yeshurun Shiff was an adjutant to David Shaltiel. He was in Deir Yassin April 9 and April 12. He reported:-

"[The attackers chose] to kill anybody they found alive as though every living thing in the village was the enemy and they could only think 'kill them all.'...It was a lovely spring day, the almond trees were in bloom, the flowers were out and everywhere there was the stench of the dead, the thick smell of blood, and the terrible odor of the corpses burning in the quarry."[47]
Yair Tsaban's eyewitness account: Yair Tsaban was one of several youths in the burial team at Deir Yassin April 12. He reported:-

"What we saw were [dead] women, young children, and old men. What shocked us was at least two or three cases of old men dressed in women's clothes. I remember entering the living room of a certain house. In the far corner was a small woman with her back towards the door, sitting dead. When we reached the body we saw an old man with a beard. My conclusion was that what happened in the village so terrorized these old men that they knew being old men would not save them. They hoped that if they were seen as old women that would save them."[48]
In an article dated April 2, 1998, The Jerusalem Post describes a BBC program in which Abu Mahmud resident of Dir Yassin in 1948 stated: "... the villagers protested against the atrocity claims: We said, "There was no rape." [Khalidi] said, "We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews..."[49]

Khalidi was a prominent Palestinian Arab leader who pushed the editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service's Arabic news in 1948, Hazem Nusseibeh, to make the most use of alleged atrocities in Dir Yassin.[citation needed]

Mohammed Radwan who fought in the battle:-

"I know when I speak that God is up there and God knows the truth and God will not forgive the liars," said Radwan, who puts the number of villagers killed at 93, listed in his own handwriting. "There were no rapes. It's all lies. There were no pregnant women who were slit open. It was propaganda that... Arabs put out so Arab armies would invade," he said. "They ended up expelling people from all of Palestine on the rumor of Deir Yassin." This was reported by Paul Holmes, Middle East Times, 20-April-1998
Mohammed Jaber, a village boy, observed the guerillas:-

"break in, drive everybody outside, put them against the wall and shoot them."[50]
Ayish Zeidan, a teenager, known as Haj Ayish:-

"We heard shooting. My mother did not want us to look out of the window. I fled with my sister, but my mother and my other sisters could not make it. They hid in the cellar for four days and then ran away". He said he never believed that more than 110 people had died at Deir Yassin and that Arab leaders exaggerated the atrocities. "There had been no rape. The Arab radio at the time talked of women being killed and raped, but this is not true. I believe that most of those who were killed were among the fighters and the women and children who helped the fighters."[51]
Zeinab Akkel, a woman, offered money (about $400) to protect her brother. One guerilla took the money and:-

"then he just knocked my brother over and shot him in the head with five bullets.".[52]
Fahimi Zeidan stated that she and her wounded siblings encountered a captured pair of village males and:-

"When they reached us, the soldiers [guarding us] shot them. When the mother of one of the killed started hitting the fighters, one of them stabbed her with a knife a few times. When one of his daughters screamed, they shot her too. They then called my brother Mahmoud and shot him in our presence, and when my mother screamed and bent over my brother (she was carrying my little sister Khadra who was still being breast fed) they shot my mother too."[53]
Haleem Eid, a woman, saw:-

"a man shoot a bullet into the neck of my sister Salhiyeh who was nine months pregnant."[1]

[edit] Irgun members Eyewitness accounts
Yehoshua Gorodentchik, an Irgunist fighter, said that they:-

"found men dressed as women and therefore they began to shoot at women who did not hasten to go down to the place designated for gathering the prisoners."[54]
Ben Zion-Cohen (an Irgun commander) reported to the Jabotinsky archives that at some point in Deir Yassin:-

"We eliminated every Arab that came our way."[55]

[edit] Number of dead, wounded and prisoners
In 1948 participants, observers and journalists wrote that as many as 254 villagers were killed that day. Everyone had an interest in publicizing a high Arab casualty figure: the Haganah, to tarnish the Irgun and Lehi; the Arabs and the British to malign the Jews; the Irgun and Lehi to provoke terror and frighten Arabs into fleeing the country.

The first number publicized about the death toll was 254. Irgun commander Raanan told it to reporters and it quickly stuck. Raanan's figure was a deliberate exaggeration, he later explained: "I told the reporters that 254 were killed so that a big figure would be published, and so that Arabs would panic."[56]

The fog of war accounts for some of the discrepancies. In addition, there were severe rivalries between the Haganah, the Irgun and the Lehi. The number of 254 killed was readily accepted and disseminated for different reasons of convenience for various parties. This figure has become, until recently, the standard one usually quoted.

In 1987, the Research and Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, a prominent Arab university on the West Bank, published a comprehensive study of the history of Deir Yassin, as part of its Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project. The Center's findings concerning Deir Yassin were published, in Arabic only, as the fourth booklet in its "Destroyed Arab Villages Series.[57]

The Bir Zeit researchers tracked down the surviving Arab eyewitnesses to the attack and personally interviewed each of them. "For the most part, we have gathered the information in this monograph during the months of February–May 1985 from Deir Yassin natives living in the Ramallah region, who were extremely cooperative," the Bir Zeit authors explained, listing by name twelve former Deir Yassin residents whom they had interviewed concerning the battle. The study continued: "The [historical] sources which discuss the Deir Yassin massacre unanimously agree that number of victims ranges between 250–254; however, when we examined the names which appear in the various sources, we became absolutely convinced that the number of those killed does not exceed 120, and that the groups which carried out the massacre exaggerated the numbers in order to frighten Palestinian residents into leaving their villages and cities without resistance." A list of 107 people killed and twelve wounded was given.[58]

Additional reports:

Menachem Begin, who did not participate in the battle, wrote that:-

'Apart from the military aspect, there is a moral aspect to the story of Dir Yassin. At that village, whose name was publicized throughout the world, both sides suffered heavy casualties. We had four killed and nearly forty wounded. The number of casualties was nearly forty percent of the total number of the attackers. The Arab troops suffered casualties nearly three times as heavy. The fighting was thus very severe. Yet the hostile propaganda, disseminated throughout the world, deliberately ignored the fact that the civilian population of Dir Yassin was actually given a warning by us before the battle began. One of our tenders carrying a loud speaker was stationed at the entrance to the village and it exhorted in Arabic all women, children and aged to leave their houses and to take shelter on the slopes of the hill. By giving this humane warning our fighters threw away the element of complete surprise, and thus increased their own risk in the ensuing battle. A substantial number of the inhabitants obeyed the warning and they were unhurt. A few did not leave their stone houses — perhaps because of the confusion. The fire of the enemy was murderous - to which the number of our casualties bears eloquent testimony. Our men were compelled to fight for every house; to overcome the enemy they used large numbers of hand grenades. And the civilians who had disregarded our warnings suffered inevitable casualties.

The education which we gave our soldiers throughout the years of revolt was based on the observance of the traditional laws of war. We never broke them unless the enemy first did so and thus forced us, in accordance with the accepted custom of war, to apply reprisals. I am convinced, too, that our officers and men wished to avoid a single unnecessary casualty in the Dir Yassin battle. But those who throw stones of denunciation at the conquerors of Dir Yassin would do well not to don the cloak of hypocrisy.

In connection with the capture of Dir Yassin the Jewish Agency found it necessary to send a letter of apology to Abdullah, whom Mr. Ben Gurion, at a moment of great political emotion, called 'the wise ruler who seeks the good of his people and this country.' The 'wise ruler,' whose mercenary forces demolished Gush Etzion and flung the bodies of its heroic defenders to birds of prey, replied with feudal superciliousness. He rejected the apology and replied that the Jews were all to blame and that he did not believe in the existence of 'dissidents.' Throughout the Arab world and the world at large a wave of lying propaganda was let loose about 'Jewish atrocities.'

The enemy propaganda was designed to besmirch our name. In the result it helped us. Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. Kolonia village, which had previously repulsed every attack of the Haganah, was evacuated overnight and fell without further fighting. Beit-Iksa was also evacuated. These two places overlooked the main road; and their fall, together with the capture of Kastel by the Haganah, made it possible to keep open the road to Jerusalem. In the rest of the country, too, the Arabs began to flee in terror, even before they clashed with Jewish forces. Not what happened at Dir Yassin, but what was invented about Dir Yassin, helped to carve the way to our decisive victories on the battlefield. The legend of Dir Yassin helped us in particular in the saving of Tiberias and the conquest of Haifa.".[59]

The historian Benny Morris writes:

'Deir Yassin is remembered… for the atrocities committed by the IZL and LHI troops during and immediately after the drawn-out battle: Whole families were riddled with bullets… men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot." Haganah intelligence reported "there were piles of dead. Some of the prisoners moved to places of incarceration, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors… LHI members… relate that the IZL men raped a number of Arab girls and murdered them afterward (we don't know if this is true).' Another intelligence operative (who visited the site hours after the event) reported the 'adult males were taken to town Jerusalem in trucks and paraded in the city streets, then taken back to the site and killed… Before they were put on the trucks, the IZL and LHI men searched the women, men, and children [and] took from them all the jewelry and stole their money.' Finally, the 'Haganah made great efforts to hide its part in the operation.' - Righteous Victims, ibid.p.208

[edit] Results
Deir Yassin very quickly became ideological bait in the propaganda war between Israel and the Arab states. Panic flight of Arabs across Palestine intensified. It was also used as a strong argument for the Arab states to intervene against Israel, Arab League chief Azzam Pasha said "The massacre of Deir Yassin was to a great extent the cause of the wrath of the Arab nations and the most important factor for sending [in] the Arab armies**.

A member of the Herut party in the Knesset, in a parliamentary debate in August of the following year, claimed that the events at Deir Yassin were central to Israel’s eventual victory in 1948: 'Thanks to Deir Yassin, we won the war.' [60]

After the war Deir Yassin was settled by Israelis and named Givat Schaul Beth, today belonging to the city of Jerusalem (at the top end of Har Nof). The Kfar Shaul mental health center is built on much of the western side of the former village.

[edit] Retaliation killings
The ambush and killing of 77 Jewish doctors, nurses, patients and guards in a convoy headed to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus near Jerusalem by Arab fighters (see Hadassah medical convoy massacre) soon after the events of Deir Yassin is regarded as one immediate act of retaliation by Arabs.[61]

In 1972, the Japanese Red Army (trained in Lebanon) and acting on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, opened fire indiscriminately on passengers and staff in the Lod Airport in Israel, killing 24 people and wounding 78 others. The PFLP referred to it as "Operation Deir Yassin" (see Lod Airport massacre).

Contemporary reports of the Deir Yassin incident had considerable impact on the development and outcome of the 1948 war. These reports are widely credited with greatly stimulating Palestinian Arab refugee flight (see Palestinian Exodus).

[edit] Modern debate
In 1969, the Israeli Foreign Ministry published a pamphlet “Background Notes on Current Themes: Deir Yassin” in English denying that there had been a massacre at Deir Yassin, and calling the story "part of a package of fairy tales, for export and home consumption". The pamphlet led to a series of derivative articles giving the same message, especially in America. Menachem Begin's Herut party disseminated a Hebrew translation in Israel, causing a widespread but largely non-public debate within the Israeli establishment. Several former leaders of the Hagannah demanded that the pamphlet be withdrawn on account of its inaccuracy, but the Foreign Ministry explained that "While our intention and desire is to maintain accuracy in our information, we sometimes are forced to deviate from this principle when we have no choice or alternative means to rebuff a propaganda assault or Arab psychological warfare." Yitzhak Levi, the 1948 leader of Hagannah Intelligence, wrote to Begin: "On behalf of the truth and the purity of arms of the Jewish soldier in the War of Independence, I see it as my duty to warn you against continuing to spread this untrue version about what happened in Deir Yassin to the Israeli public. Otherwise there will be no avoiding raising the matter publicly and you will be responsible." Eventually, the Foreign Ministry agreed to stop distributing the pamphlet, but it remains the source of many popular accounts.[62]

As mentioned above, the most detailed account of what happened at Deir Yassin was published by Israeli military historian Uri Milstein. Milstein describes examples of atrocities committed by the Irgun and Lehi forces, and agrees that most of the dead were “old people, women and children. Only a modest number were young men classifiable as fighters.” However, Milstein concluded that most of these events occurred while the fighting was in progress, rather than afterwards. He doubts that Meir Pa'il was present early enough to see everything he claims to have seen (which Pa'il hotly denies). Finally he is reluctant to call it a "massacre", claiming that such occurrences are typical of war and that the Haganah did similar things on many occasions, even if not on such a scale.

[edit] See also
List of massacres committed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

[edit] Footnotes
Major and recurring sources quoted by author and year only. Full citations can be found in the References section.
^ a b c Kananah and Zaytuni 1988, p.55.
^ Uri Milstein: " fact, nobody denies: most of the dead in Deir Yassin were old men, women and children" (The War of Independence Vol. IV, p273; translation by Ami Isseroff).
^ a b Milstein 1999, p.388 ("the leaders of ETZEL, LEHI, Hagana and MAPAM leaders had a vested interest in spreading the highly inflated version of the true facts") and pp.397-399.
^ Morris 2004, p.239: "IZL leaders may have had an interest, then and later, in exaggerating the panic-generating effects of Deir Yassin, but they were certainly not far off the mark. In the Jerusalem Corridor area, the effect was certainly immediate and profound."
^ Sachar, p.333: "The most savage of these reprisal actions took place on April 9, 1948 ... the deed was immediately repudiated by the Haganah command, then by the Jewish Agency"
Morris 2001, p.208: "the Jewish Agency and the Haganah leadership immediately condemned the massacre".
^ "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie", Zionist Organization of America, 1998: "A total of 170 English-language history books which refer to the battle of Deir Yassin were analyzed for this study. Only 8 of the 170 raised serious doubts as to whether or not there had been a massacre."
^ Uri Milstein quoted in Ha'ir, "Not Only Deir Yassin", 6 May 1992 (article by Guy Erlich, translated by Elias Davidsson): "I maintain that even before the establishment of the State, each battle ended with a massacre... [The] War of Independence was the dirtiest of them all... The idea behind a massacre is to inflict a shock on the enemy, to paralyze the enemy. In the War of Independence everybody massacred everybody, but most of the action happened between Jews and Palestinians."
^ Yoav Gelber, Palestine 1948 Appendix II.
^ Deir Yassin Remembered
^ Yitzhak Levi, "Conquest of Deir Yassin" (1948 Jerusalem Haganah intelligence chief) file, quoted in Levi, "Nine Measures", pp 340-341)
^ Kananah & Zaytuni 1988, p. 50; Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Milstein 1989, p. 257 (Hebrew version) ; Yitzhak Levi, "Conquest of Deir Yassin" (1948 Jerusalem Haganah intelligence chief) file, quoted in Levi, "Nine Measures", 343.
^ Milstein 1999, p. 351
^ Kfir, Ilan, Yediot Ahronot 4.4.72; Yitzak Levi, "Nine Measures", p. 341
^ Shaltiel, David, Jerusalem 1948, Israel Ministry of Defense, Tel Aviv 1981, p. 139
^ Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Levi, Nine Measures, p. 341
^ Milstein 1989, p. 258 (Hebrew version)
^ Statement of Yehuda Lapidot [Irgun], file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, Tel Aviv, quoted in Silver, "Begin: The Haunted Prophet", 90
^ Dan Kurzman, Geneis 1948: "The First Arab-Israeli War", 1970, p.139
^ Milstein 1999
^ a b c Milstein 1989, p. 262 (Hebrew version)
^ "Milstein 1999; "A Jewish Eyewitness": An Interview with Meir Pa'il, McGowan
^ a b Milstein 1989, p. 263 (Hebrew version)
^ Milstein 1989, p. 262-265 (Hebrew version)
^ Testimony of Reuven Greenberg.
^ Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ.
^ Lynne Reid Banks, "A Torn Country"; "An Oral History of the Israeli War of Independence", New York: Franklin Watts, 1982, p. 62.
^ Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ
^ Milstein 1989, p. 265 (Hebrew version)
^ Daniel Spicehandler's testimony, quoted in Ralph G. Martin, Golda: "Golda Meir - The Romantic Years" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988), p. 329
^ Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ
^ Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem" (New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 323, n. 175.
^ Milstein 1989, p. 265-266 (Hebrew version)
^ "Edge of the Sword", p.450, Lorch
^ "The Revolt", 1977, Begin; Levi, Yitzhak, "Nine Measures", p 342; "Terror out of Zion", 1977, Bowyer Bell
^ Statement of Ben-Zion Cohen, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives; Milstein 1989, p. 276 (Hebrew version);Kananah & Zaytuni 1988, p. 56; "Jerusalem Embattled", p.5 Levin.
^ Milstein 1999, p. 376
^ Morris (2004) Chanter 4: The second wave: the mass exodus, April—June 1948, Section: Operation Nahshon, page 238
^ Milstein 1999, p. 377
^ a b Morris (2005), page 98
^ Morris (2005), p. 100–101
^ Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account, Pa'il and Isseroff
^ Milstein 1999, p. 378
^ Milstein 1989, p. 274 (Hebrew version); Yitzhak Levi, Nine Measures, p. 343
^ Yediot Ahronot, 1972-02-05
^ Jacques de Reynier, "A Jerusalem un drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu" p. 74, Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem! p. 278
^ Milstein 1989, p. 279 (Hebrew version)
^ Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, "O Jerusalem!", p. 280
^ Eric Silver, "Begin", p. 93, 95
^ Silver, Eric. "Arab witnesses admit exaggerating Deir Yassin massacre" (Abstract), The Reporter, The Jerusalem Post, April 2, 1998, p. 6. Retrieved on 2007-10-02.
^ Statement of Mohammed Jaber, dossier 179/110/17 GS, "Secret," Police Investigator Team reports dated 13, 15, and 16 April 1948
^ Anton LaGuardia, "War Without End: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Struggle for a Promised Land", St. Martin's Griffin; Rev&Updtd edition (May 23, 2003) ISBN 0-312-31633-X , page 195
^ "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account", Pa'il and Isseroff
^ Kananah & Zaytuni 1988, pp. 55-56
^ Statement of Yehoshua Gorodentchik, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives
^ Amos Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, p. 216
^ Milstein 1989, p. 269 (Hebrew version)
^ Kananah & Zaytuni 1988, p. 5
^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named KZ57
^ Menachem Begin, The Revolt, Dell Publishing, NY, 1977, pp. 225–227. Cf. The footnote to pp.226-7 reads, To counteract the loss of Dir Yassin, a village of strategic importance, Arab headquarters at Ramallah broadcast a crude atrocity story, alleging a massacre by Irgun troops of women and children in the village. Certain Jewish officials, fearing the Irgun men as political rivals, seized upon this Arab gruel propaganda to smear the Irgun. An eminent Rabbi was induced to reprimand the Irgun before he had time to sift the truth. Out of evil, however, good came. This Arab propaganda spread a legend of terror amongst Arabs and Arab troops, who were seized with panic at the mention of Irgun soldiers. The legend was worth half a dozen battalions to the forces of Israel. The `Dir Yassin Massacre' lie is still propagated by Jew-haters all over the world.'
^ Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, 1986, p. 89.
^ "In April, a massacre by the Jewish militia Irgun in the Arab village of Deir Yassin shot waves of fear through Arab Palestine; this provoked a reprisal massacre by Arabs of Jewish doctors and nurses on the road to Hadassah hospital near Jerusalem." Sandy Tolan, "The catastrophe that never ends",, July 11, 2006.
^ Morris 2005, pp80-85

[edit] References
Begin, Menachem (1978): The Revolt, Dell Publishing, ISBN 0440175984, ISBN 978-0440175988 (also available in a 2002 edition translated by Shmuel Katz, ASIN B000TAQ4Y2 ).
Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique (1972): O Jerusalem!, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-671-66241-4, p303-314.
Gelber, Yoav (2006). Palestine 1948, Appendix II. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 1-84519-075-0
Kananah, Sharif; Nihad Zaytuni (1988). Deir Yassin, القرى الفلسطينية المدمرة (Destroyed Palestinian Villages) (in Arabic). Bir Zeit: Birzeit University Press. LCCN 89-968187. OCLC 29364942.
Levi, Yitzhak: Nine Measures.
Milstein, Uri [1989] (1999). "Chapter 16: Deir Yassin", History of Israel's War of Independence v4: Out of Crisis Came Decision, trans. & ed. by Alan Sacks (in English), Lanham, MD: University Press of America, pp. 343-396. LCCN 96-17163. ISBN 0761814892. OCLC 34598075.
Milstein, Uri (1989). תולדות מחלמת העצמאות (History of the War of Independence) (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv, Israel: Zemorah, Bitan. LCCN 89-192316. OCLC 21330115.
Morris, Benny (1989). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33028-9.
Morris, Benny (2003). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81120-1; ISBN 0-521-00967-7 (pbk.).
Morris, Benny (2001): Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, Vintage Books, ISBN 0679744754, ISBN 978-0679744757
Sachar, Howard M. (2006): A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 0-679-76563-8
Segev, Tom (1998) 1949: The First Israelis, Holt Paperbacks, ISBN 0805058966 ISBN 978-0805058963

[edit] Further reading
Journals and articles

Morris, Benny (2005). "The Historiography of Deir Yassin". Journal of Israeli History 24 (1): 79-107.
"There was no Massacre there" by Yerach Tal, in Ha'Aretz, 8 September 1991, page B3.
"Indeed there was a Massacre there" by Danny Rubinstein, in Ha'Aretz, 11 September 1991.

[edit] External links
The Ghosts of Deir Yassin - Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2007.
Deir Yassin - by Professor Yehuda Lapidot, IZL (Irgun) website
Remembering Deir Yassin by James Zogby, Al-Ahram Weekly
On Recent Hebrew and Israeli Sources for the Palestinian Exodus, 1947-49 by Nur-eldeen Masalha, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 18, No. 1, Special Issue: Palestine 1948 Autumn, 1988), pp. 121-137 (database access required).
Deir Yassin - by Mitchell Bard, Jewish Virtual Library
Deir Yassin: History of a Lie - Zionist Organization of America, March 9, 1998 (from Web Archives).
Coming to Terms with Deir Yassin - PEACE Middle East Dialog Group.
What happened at Deir Yassin? - Palestine Facts website, includes additional links.
Deir Yassin Remembered - website of the Deir Yassin Remembered organization.
The Deir Yassin Remembered Documentary Video. Info, and link to video online.
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Categories: Battles and operations of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War | Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Irgun

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