Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War

  • Saleh Abdel Jawad
Part of the Beiträge zum ausländischen öffentlichen Recht und Völkerrecht book series (BEITRÄGE, volume 189)


Gaza Strip Student Interview Terror Attack Eyewitness Account Selective Killing 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in B. Harlow, “Remember the Solidarity Here and Everywhere”, Middle East Report 229 (2002), 4 et seq.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    G. Ehrlich, “Not only in Deir Yassin”, Ha’ir, 6 May 1992, 22.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    S. Power, “The Lesson of Hannah Arendt”, New York Review of Books 51 (2004), 34 et seq., uses this language to describe the work of Hannah Arendt and it perfectly describes why I greatly admire her intellectual work.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    This contradicts both the old Israeli historiography that recognises only Deir Yassin, as well as the work of Benny Morris who continues to insist that “atrocities were limited in size, scope and time” (B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004, 2nd ed., 482).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    For the harsher behaviour against people in Gaza, G. Levy, “The IDF’s Shooting Range”, Ha’aretz, 15 February 2004, <>, and, in general, Amira Haas’ reports from the Gaza strip in Ha’aretz.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    The United Nations archives in New York, which I visited in March 2004, contain rich documentation about the war. However, the UN archives continue to classify certain documents even 55 years after the events that they describe. The question is: who is protected by this discretion? M. Palumbo, “What Happened to Palestine? The Revisionists Revisited”, The Link 23 (1990), argues that the UN limits access to documents that might damage its own reputation — but the implication of this standard for particular research questions is unclear. Similarly, Israeli archives are open but continue to censor many of the documents which relate to atrocities and war crimes in 1948.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    S. A. Jawad, Deir Yassin: Exception or Rule, paper given at a meeting commemorating the anniversary of Deir Yassin in April 1996 in Pclel-Bireh’s Town Hall, and idem, see note 13.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    For a discussion of the credibility of Palestinian oral testimonies see “Le Témoignage des Palestiniennes Entre l’Historiographie Israélienne et l’Historiographie Arabe: Le Cas de 1948”, in: C. Coquio (ed.), l’Histoire trouée, négation et témoignages. Travaux du Colloque à la Sorbonne, Septembre 2002, 2004, 627–640. For a more detailed and complete discussion, see S.A. Jawad, “The Arab and Palestinian Narratives of the 1948 War”, in: R. Rotberg (ed.), The Intertwined Narratives of Israel-Palestine: History’s Double Helix, forthcoming, 93–142.Google Scholar
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    See M. Lacey, “U.S. Report on Violence in Sudan Finds a Pattern of Atrocities”, New York Times, 25 August 2004. The State Department’s finding of a pattern of atrocities was based exclusively on 257 eyewitness accounts.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    Based on the interviews I conducted with survivors, I estimate that aerial bombardment was one of the deadliest forms of killing since July 1948, especially in southern Palestine and the central Galilee in the north. While my interviews cover only a very limited number of villages from these areas, the testimonies are all in agreement about the high casualty rates produced by aerial bombardment. My respondents’ observations are consistent with data reported by Benny Morris on the bombing of Tarshiha in Morris, see note 5, 479. Morris’ account, based on Israeli army records, acknowledges a higher level of devastation than is found in Nafez Nazzal’s coverage of the same events based on eyewitness testimonies in N. Nazzal, The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee, 1978, 97 et seq.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    B. Morris, 1948 and After, Israel and the Palestinians, 1990, 177–178, also cites Nahmani’s dismayed reaction.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    For a more detailed discussion of Ein Zaytoun, see the section of the massacre of prisoners in the typology of massacres, below. The use of the assault on Ein Zaytoun to soften up Safad see M. Kelman, in: IDF Archives, file no. 1226/922/75, 121/4.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    D. Ben-Gurion, Yumann Hamilhamah, 1947–1949 (Diaries of War, 1947–1949), 1984, G. Rivlin/ E. Orren (eds), Samir Jabbour (trans.), 1993, see especially footnotes for 27 October 1948, 597 in the Arabic version (hereafter: AV) and on 779 in the Hebrew version (hereafter: HV).Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    Ibid., Entries for 13 September 1948, 521, and for 26 September 1948, 556 (AV), 683 and 721 (HV).Google Scholar
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    Ibid., Entries for 15 July 1948, 454 (AV), 591 (HV). Ben-Gurion also urged extreme restraint in the occupation of Jerusalem, for similar reasons.Google Scholar
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    Lecture, in Baladna Center, el-Bireh/ Ramallah, 30 October 1997.Google Scholar
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    S.A. Jawad, “Ein Fall von ‘ethnischer Säuberung’: Warum haben die Palästinenser 1948 ihre Heimstätten verlassen”, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 9 January 2001, 14 et seq.Google Scholar
  19. 28.
    B. Morris, “Vertreibung, Flucht und Schutzbedürfnis. Wie 1948 das Problem der palästinensischen Flüchtlinge entstand”, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29 December 2001, 8.Google Scholar
  20. 29.
    B. Morris, “The Survival of the Fittest”, Ha’aretz interview by A. Shavit, 9 January 2004, <>.Google Scholar
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    Here we are using a quote from Aryeh Yitzachi, a historical researcher whose job enabled him to see all censored materials in the IDF archives where he worked, in Ehrlich, see note 2, 22.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Elsewhere, I have written about the historiography of this period and the use of different terms by Palestinians and Israelis at different points in time to describe the events of 1948. In brief, Palestinians refer to these events as genocide, expulsion, and catastrophe, while Israelis refer to ‘Transfer,’ abandonment, and flight. Among Israelis, Ilan Pappe is the first to use the term ethnic cleansing. For further details on this point see Jawad, see note 17. See also S. Slyomovics, “The Rape of Qula, a Destroyed Palestinian Village”, in: L. Abu-Lughod/A. Sa’di (eds), The Claims of Memory: Palestine 1948, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    E. Sanbar, Palestine 1948, l’expulsion, 1984.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    The interviewee, from a well-known Lod family, became a trader in el-Bireh and, from 1992 until his death, he served as the head of the Chamber of Commerce in Ramallah and el-Bireh. Interview in his house in el-Bireh, November 1996.Google Scholar
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    Author interview with E. Sanbar, Paris, 5 January 1995. Sanbar used in French “partir ou mourir.”Google Scholar
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    Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, 1960, 267. Author’s emphasis.Google Scholar
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  29. 39.
    Edward Said expresses a similar point of view when he says: “For the Palestinians, a vast collective feeling of injustice continues to hang over our lives with undiminished weight. If there has been... one particular delinquency committed by the present Palestinian leaders for me, it is their supernally gifted power of forgetting... [O]ne of them... reported blithely, ‘We are prepared to forget history.’ That is a sentiment I can neither share nor, I hasten to add, easily forgive” (E. Said, “Introduction: The Right to Return at Last”, in: N. Aruri (ed.), Palestinian Refugees: The Right of Return, 2001, 1).Google Scholar
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    J.L. Herman, Trauma and Recovery, 1992.Google Scholar
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    U. Milstein, The War of Independence Vol. IV: Out of Crisis Came Decision, 1991, 255–276.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 21, 36.Google Scholar
  33. 43.
    A. al-Aref, Nakbat Filastin wa al-Firdaws Mafqud (Palestinian Nakba and the Lost Paradise), 1956–1958. Originally published in Lebanon. Page citations in this article are taken from a pirated copy (Dar al-Huda publishers, in Kofr Qar’, Israel, n.d.) in the author’s possession. Aref’s work represents the first Palestinian attempt to create a complete account of the war. He relates many atrocities, but rarely uses the term ‘massacre.’ Nor does Nazzal, see note 20, in his recounting of the exodus.Google Scholar
  34. 45.
    For an early eyewitness account of the ‘Horrid Massacre in Boston,’ which lists five dead, two mortally wounded, and four more seriously wounded, see N. Harris et al. (eds), The History of The United States, volume I: 1600–1876, Sources Readings, 1969, 168–169.Google Scholar
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    R. Gellately/ B. Kiernan, “The Study of Mass Murder and Genocide”, in: R. Gellately/ B. Kiernan (eds), The Spectre of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, 2003, 9–11, summarise the theoretical frameworks used for describing genocide. They identify the “intentionalist” approach that focuses on the plans of the leaders of genocidal armies or nations and the “interactive” approach which places more emphasis on the understandings of field commanders in producing genocidal outcomes. These two interpretive traditions have in common the presumption that genocide, mass murders and massacres are committed by state actors.Google Scholar
  36. 47.
    For a Palestinian interpretation, see N. Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of Transfer in Zionist Political Thought 1882–1948, 1992, Arabic version hereafter AV, English version hereafter EV. For an Israeli interpretation, see A. Shapira, Land and Power, The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881–1948, 1992.Google Scholar
  37. 48.
    French historian Henri Laurens describes this premise in these words: “Pro-Palestinian historians projected the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 as the achievement of a long envisioned project. In some manner, the expulsion of the Palestinians is part of the genetic code of Zionism.” Notes given to author from a lecture given at the French Cultural Center, Jerusalem, 1998.Google Scholar
  38. 49.
    A way of reconciling this contradiction was to argue that the land, while not physically empty, was empty of civilisational achievements. Zionists used this variant of the ‘empty land’ argument as well. M. Rodinson, “Israel: Fait Colonial”, Les Temps Moderns 253 (1967), 51 et seq., emphasises this second sense of ‘emptiness.’Google Scholar
  39. 50.
    For a history of the term, see A.M. Garfinkle, “On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase”, Middle Eastern Studies 27 (1991), 539 et seq., <>.Google Scholar
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    Shapira, see note 47, 45.Google Scholar
  41. 52.
    The insistence on the ‘emptiness’ of Palestine is not limited to 19th century Zionists. For example, in his book (B. Netanyahu, A Place Under The Sun, 1993, 40) Benjamin Netanyahu adopts the image of physical emptiness. He quotes Arthur Stanley, the British “map expert” who wrote in 1881 “In Judea it is hardly an exaggeration to say that for miles and miles there was not appearance of life.” But, in a contradictory testimony conveniently ignored by Netanyahu, Zionist preacher Israel Zangwill talked about a dense Palestinian population. I. Zangwill, Speeches, Articles and Letters, 1937, 210, complains that “Palestine is already twice as thickly populated as the United States... and not 25 per cent of them [are] Jews.”Google Scholar
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    A. Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, 1987, 212.Google Scholar
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    Masalha, see note 47, 30 (EV).Google Scholar
  45. 57.
    Quoted in A. Shalhat, An Introduction to the Study of the Arab Personality in Zionist Literature, el-Karmel, Vol. 7, 1983, 379.Google Scholar
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    For example, M. Rodinson, “Israel and the Arabs”, in: G.V. Smith (ed.), Zionism, the Dream and the Reality, 1974, 259 et seq., notes that Yemeni Jews, who spoke a form of Hebrew closest to Arabic were shamed and “reprogrammed” into speaking a form of Hebrew closer to that spoken by European immigrants with no knowledge of Arabic.Google Scholar
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    Royal Committee for Palestine 1937, #5479 Full Report, Official Arabic version, White Paper, 1937, S. 440. Author’s translation.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 5, 437. Morris, who added the reference to Arab troops killing Jews, did not mention that Beit Daras was a Palestinian village which was attacked four times and the Jews who were killed there were military aggressors.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 29.Google Scholar
  50. 62.
  51. 63.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 6, 125, was the first to mention this massacre. He is followed by Nazzal, see note 20, 92; and M. Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, 1987, 171–172, who provides the comprehensive version, quoting UNA13/3.3.1, box 11, Atrocities September-November. The most detailed account is provided by A. Mana’, The Memories and Historiography of the Events of the Nakba: The Example of Madj al-Krum, al-Dhakira w-al-Ta’rikh li Ahdath al-Nakba, Majd al-Krum Mathalan, forthcoming. Compare Mana’s treatment to Morris. Mana used eyewitness accounts and interviews with Palestinians and Israelis, as well as documentary sources, and offered to show them to Morris, who declined.Google Scholar
  52. 64.
    Author interview with Mahmoud Mohammad Ghabish, el-Bireh, 29 October 1997. In addition to the interview above, see also al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 3, 582. Al-Aref says 32 prisoners were missing. H. Hamoudeh, Al-’Abbasiyeh 1921–1948: The Struggle of a Palestinian Village, Abbasiyeh Villagers Association, n.d., 47–50, in Arabic, supplies the names of 25 men killed. Hamoudeh is also the source of the names of the two survivors.Google Scholar
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    Idem; and author interview with Anis Abu Hakmeh, Ramallah, 1997.Google Scholar
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    For the battle of Safad, see M. Abbasi, “The Battle for Safad in the War of 1948: A Revised Study”, International Journal of Middle East Studies 36 (2004), 21 et seq.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 67.
    Nazzal, see note 20, 34–37, was the first to report the massacre.Google Scholar
  56. 68.
    Moshe Kelman, the military leader of this massacre was quite candid in his reports. He wrote “Safad was the [Arab] nerve-center... in the Galilee region, and to some extent it was a symbol for all the Arabs in the country. It was clear that once we succeeded in conquering Safad, it would undermine the whole basis for the secure existence of Arab settlement in Galilee, and the control over the entire eastern part of that region would come into our hands very easily” (M. Kelman, Hagana Archives, file no. 65/13, 22). Kelman wanted to use the effect of the conquest of Ein Zeitun and decided, as he says, “To blow up the village buildings [of Birya and Ein Zeitun] one by one during daylight hours so that the Arab residents of Safad who were on the opposite ridge could see what was in store for them” (Kelman, see note 22). Kelman is quoted in Abbasi, see note 66, 34.Google Scholar
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    Palumbo, see note 63, 111–112, and Nazzal, see note 20, 34–37.Google Scholar
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    This information comes from N. Ben-Yehuda, Passed the Ropes, 1985, 243–248, in Hebrew, quoted in Morris, see note 5, 289, note 427, who describes removing the handcuffs from executed prisoners. Two other massacres account for the difference in numbers between the 37 young men from Ein Zaytoun and the total of 70 prisoners killed there. In 1992, Ehrlich, see note 2, quoted Milstein, who interviewed soldiers who were at Ein Zaytoun. They told him that there were two more massacres. Milstein has testimony from Aaron Yoily who said that three people from Safad came to Ein Zaytoun, demanded 23 Arab prisoners, claiming they were murderers. The men from Safad took the prisoners watches and pocketed them and then marched them behind the hill and killed them. Another soldier, Yitzah Golan talked about 30 other prisoners who were taken for questioning at Kanaan by the Shai (Haganah) Intelligence Service who killed them after interrogating them because they “were attempting to flee.”Google Scholar
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    Ben-Yehuda, quoted in Morris, idem. Google Scholar
  60. 72.
    Different Israeli sources, including Moshe Kilman’s letters, confirm his role in killing of dozens of Palestinians, some even say as many as 250, in the Dahmash mosque in Lod. Ehrlich, see note 2, documents Kilman’s role in ordering the execution of those who buried the dead from the Dahmash mosque.Google Scholar
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    Author interview, Askar Refugee camp near Nablus, 1995.Google Scholar
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    Testimony of Youssef Sayigh, representative of the Arab POW in Ijlaiel Detention Center, in: W.R. Khalidi, Ramlehh Tataklam. Ramlehh Talks, 1991. Dr. Sayigh later became a renowned world economist.Google Scholar
  63. 75.
    A student interview with Amneh Mohammad Tomlieh (known as Umm Jihad) from’ Inaba, near Ramleh, conducted in the Am’ari refugee camp, 14 November 1999, shows one way the regional effect was created — by refugees from one massacre carrying their tales to surrounding villages. “They just hit us with a few shells from the Gezer settlement. The people heard and ran. They had taken Abu Shusha before us and the women and girls of Abu Shusha, when they arrived, they were crying how they saw, this one her brother, this one her father — they saw them killed.” Stories like that told by Amneh Mohammad Tomlieh repeated themselves in many villages around Abu Shusha, and led to widespread demoralisation and flight after the first shells fell.Google Scholar
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    Palumbo, see note 63, xii.Google Scholar
  65. 77.
    There are three main sources for the Al-Dawayima massacre. M.A.S. Hudeib, Al-Dawayimah Village, 1985; A. ‘Atharbeh, Al-Dawayimah, Birzeit Research Center, The Palestinian Destroyed Villages, 21 April 1997, 215–216; “Olive Season Massacres: This is How They killed The People in al-Dawayima Mosque During the Friday Prayer”, Sawtt al-Haq wa-al-Huriya, 21 October 1994, 9.Google Scholar
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    ‘Atharbeh, ibid., 212–216.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 212–213.Google Scholar
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    The Israeli military academy is named in his honour. C. Burgess, “Ord Wingate; Rebellious Misfit”, Quarterly Journal of Military History (1999), 68 et seq., recounts that Wingate was extremely pious, [in today’s terms, a fundamentalist Protestant], obsessed by the idea of revenge. Wingate’s fanaticism about the Old Testament led him to support the Zionists against the Arabs.Google Scholar
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    For example, in one of these reprisal attacks, on 15 July 1947, 11 Palestinians, all innocent civilians, were killed, including seven from a single (Abu Laban) family. See Masalha, see note 47, 143–144 (AV). Another attack, in Feja, in May 1947 was characterised by U. Milstein (with A. Amit), The Rabin File, An Unauthorized Expose, 1999, 45, in these words: “Allon’s contention that the Arab dead [in Feja] were later identified as gang members, can be treated as the propaganda it was.”Google Scholar
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    From the Arabic translation of Major R.D. Wilson, Cordon and Search, 1952, quoted in I. Abu-Loghod (ed.), The Transformation of Palestine, 1972, 201 (AV).Google Scholar
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    This is a well-known massacre, cited in most writing about the war, including Milstein, see note 41, 113, who acknowledges eight fatalities; Morris, see note 21, 169, acknowledges ten fatalities; in B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1987, 33, Morris cites “about a dozen” fatalities; Palestine (newspaper), 20 December 1948, 1.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Ben-Gurion, see E. Orren (eds), Samir Jabbour (trans.) note 23, 99 (AV), 97 (HV). Author’s translation.Google Scholar
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    Report by the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Palestine, Major General Vagn Bennike (of Denmark) to the UN Security Council, in particular to the incident at Qibya on 14–15 October, p.5.Google Scholar
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    Yosef Nahmani quoted in Morris, see note 21, 169–170.Google Scholar
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    These elite units, formed by the Palmach in 1942, were known in Hebrew as “mustarivim” meaning “like Arab.” Slotsky, see note 14, 160–161 (AV), 1316 (HV).Google Scholar
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    Oral testimony from Umm Riyad, Far’a refugee camp, 1995, 192–193; A.R. al-Mudor, Tieret Haifa, Berzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #19, 1995.Google Scholar
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    V. Nacquet, “Instruments Industriels de la Mort en Serie”, in: G. Wacjman (ed.), L’Objet du Siecle, 1998, 37; O. Bartov et al. (eds), Crimes of War, Guilt and Denial in the Twenthieth Century, 2002, 4, says “Guernica’s bombardment in 1937 and the bombardment of Barcelona in 1938 pushed the League of Nations on September 30, 1938 to adopt a resolution condemning indiscriminate bombing.”Google Scholar
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    M. Goldenberg quoted in W. Lehn (in association with U. Davis), The Jewish National Fund, 1988, 245–246.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 5, 228.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 5, 434, writes: “Hundreds of unburied corpses littering [Lod’s] streets and houses and the road between Lod and Ramleh during 12–15 July.”Google Scholar
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    Compare the testimony of Rantisi, above, with Benny Morris’ bloodless summary: “The atrocities were limited in size, scope and time. And, as immediately after Hiram, movement by inhabitants between villages was curtailed, news of massacres probably moved slowly. Moreover, atrocities did not occur in many, perhaps most, of the villages captured. In most, the primary causes of flight were those that had precipitated previous waves: Fear of being caught up and hurt in battle, fear of the conquerors and of revenge for past misdeeds or affiliations, a general fear of the future and of life under Jewish rule, and confusion and shock” (Morris, see note 5, 482).Google Scholar
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    See Nazzal, see note 20, 74, for Kuweikat whose elderly people were expelled to the Druse village of Abu Sinan, and 56, for Ez Zib.Google Scholar
  84. 103.
    Jawad, see note 17.Google Scholar
  85. 104.
    This massacre is universally recognised. However, most sources (e.g the Red Cross) estimated the fatalities at 254. Palestinian sources (al-Aref and my oral histories) put the number at 100. The best study available is W. Khalidi, Deir Yassin, 1998, in Arabic. Khalidi drew extensively on the work of S. Kanaana/N. Zitawi, Deir Yassin, Birzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #4, 1987. See also Milstein, see note 41.Google Scholar
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    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 1, 205; Ehrlich, see note 2; Morris, see note 21, 177, quoting Yossef Nahmani, gives the highest number of casualties (20) for Nasir al-Deen alone.Google Scholar
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    Morris, see note 5, 242–243, quotes a letter from Eliezer Bauer, Mapam member to Mapam leaders, attributing the killing in Abu Zureq to Jewish settlers from nearby settlements. Bauer writes: “When the village was conquered, the villagers tried to escape... Forces from the nearby settlements sortied out and outflanked them... [of those who] surrendered or were captured unarmed, most were killed [i.e. murdered]. And these were not gang members as was later written in [the Mapam daily]... but defenceless, beaten peasants... Also in the village, when adult males were discovered hiding hours after the end of the battle-they were killed.” For good relations between Abu Zureq and surrounding Jewish settlements, see M. Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape, the Buried History of the Holy Land since 1948, 2000, 74–77.Google Scholar
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    Milstein, see note 41, 211; Ben-Gurion, see note 23, entry for 21 April 1948, 273 (AV), 361 (HV), “Beit Surik was occupied and destroyed. Nothing remained except the Mosque. The same is in Bidu.” Oral testimonies indicate that those killed were civilians, student interview with Hassan Dawud al-Khatib, head of the village local council, 11 November 2000. However, our interviews failed to give an estimate of the number of fatalities.Google Scholar
  89. 109.
    This is a well-known massacre, al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 1, 222, is the earliest source, but for more complete information, see especially Palumbo, see note 63, 62–81; W. Khalidi, Fifty Years After the Partition Plan, 1947–1997, 1998, 29–134; Masalha, see note 47, 173–176 (AV); E. Childers, “The Other Exodus”, The Spectator (a London weekly), 12 May 1961; Morris, Birth, 76–77, especially the “22 Battalian (Carmeli Brigade) orders to its troops... ‘to kill every... Arab encountered’ and to set alight with fire bombs ‘all objectives that can be set alight’;” for the killing of Arab prisoners, Ben-Gurion relates a case in which a guard ordered prisoners not to speak and when they spoke anyway, he shot them, see note 23, 284 (AV), 378 (HV). B. Farah, Min al-’uthmaneya ila adawlat al-’ibrya (From Ottomanism to the Hebrew State), 1985, 197, documents details of individual Jews expelling individual Palestinians and taking their houses.Google Scholar
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    Masalha, see note 47, 176 (AV), quoting British document: “Section 257 and 317F.S, Weekly Report No. 3”, for the week ending 28 April in PRO, WO 275–79, 3.Google Scholar
  91. 111.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 1, 258–260. Dr. Hassan Hathut, an Egyptian doctor, collected eyewitness accounts from Egyptian fighters in Jaffa, in H. Hathut, Diaries of an Egyptian Doctor, Palestine the First Disaster of 1948, 1988, 32; student eyewitness interview with Abed Aziz Abu Raya, village of Silwad, 1979.Google Scholar
  92. 112.
    Palumbo, see note 63, 100, cites the report of the Red Cross doctor who, despite obstruction from the Haganah, followed the smell of rotting flesh to a cave where he found “A group of bodies piled in a heap, including soldiers, women and even a mule.” Six men who tried to help the doctor were overcome by the stench and were unable to go on.Google Scholar
  93. 116.
    For details about 2 March, see Masalha, see note 47, 155 (AV), quoting British documents; for the events of 9 May, see Morris, see note 5, 244; according to Morris’ map legend, xviii, Qanir fell on 25 April 1948. We can assume that the events of 25 April constituted a second attack on Qanir and the raid of 9 May a third attack, probably aimed at those who returned.Google Scholar
  94. 118.
    Morris, see note 5, 244.Google Scholar
  95. 119.
    S.H. Abu Sitta, The Palestinian Holocaust (Al Nakba) 1948, The Register of Depopulated Localities in Palestine, Preliminary draft, 1997, 10, is the Arab source. Morris, see note 5, map, identifies 12–14 May as date of IZL occupation. On 243–244, Morris reports: “IZL forces... on 12 May attacked and cleared the last Arab villages in the Hills of Menashe... The dissidents attacked Sabbarin, al Sindiyana, Bureika, Khubbeiza and Umm al Shauf.” The Haganah often tried to distance itself from IZL and Lehi by describing them as “dissidents,” though the British High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Alan Cunningham, discounts this claim.Google Scholar
  96. 121.
    The most important and detailed source for this massacre is M.H.A. Hussein, Burayr Village, 1999, 142–147, which includes the names of all the villagers who were killed. The author is the son of the Mukhtar of Burayr and also the headmaster of the village school. Morris, see note 5, 258, implies the massacre when he says: “The 9th Battalion troops killed a large number of villagers, apparently executing dozens of army-age males.”Google Scholar
  97. 122.
    Oral testimonies delivered to us by Rashad Madani from Gaza who conducted oral history interviews with refugees in the south of Palestine for Birzeit Research Center and Amneh al-Najar, student interviewer from Beit Affa, el-Amari Refugee Camp, 1999; and Morris, see note 5, 258.Google Scholar
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    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 1, 250–268, estimates that 700 people were killed in the battle of Jaffa and 7,000 injured. Student eyewitness interview with Abed Aziz Abu Raya, village of Silwad, 1979; student eyewitness interview with Tamam Ahkal Shammoutt, 2001; other oral testimonies from people who still live in Jaffa and who wish to remain anonymous were given to the author. Palumbo, see note 63, 87–94, summarises the fall of Jaffa. See also W. Khalidi, Khamsun ‘aman’ ala harb 1948, ula al-hurub al-sihyuniyya al-’arabiyya [Fifty years since the 1948 War, the First of the Arab-Zionist wars], 1998, 134–138; for the looting in Jaffa, see an Israeli account by D. Kimchee, in: W. Khalidi (ed.), From Haven to Conquest, 1992.Google Scholar
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    Information communicated to the author by Elham Bayour, 1997, and Yousef Haddad, 1999 in California. Both are intellectuals from Bassa who did important work on village history. See also Nazzal, dissertation, Vol. II, 386; Benvenisti, see note 106, 140.Google Scholar
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    Benvenisti, idem. Google Scholar
  101. 126.
    N. Yakub/ F. Shalabi, Abu Shusha, Birzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #18, 1995. This monograph dedicated one whole chapter to the massacre. Later the author published more advanced accounts of the massacre in a number of newspaper articles-for copies, contact the author.Google Scholar
  102. 127.
    Five oral testimonies from the village, author and student interviews; S. Kanaana/ B. al-Ka’bi, Kofr Saba, Birzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #11, 1991, 59.Google Scholar
  103. 128.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 2, 416 dates the fall of Acre as 16 May; Slotsky, see note 14, 480 (AV), 1585 (HV), dates it on 17 May and Morris, see note 5, 231 on 18 May.Google Scholar
  104. 129.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 2, 424, talks about the death of 91 persons including fighters and many civilians. In one case, seven people he names, mainly old, were machine-gunned when they went out to welcome the Haganah troops who were disguised as Arabs. Morris, see note 5, 231, talks about the rape and the murder of a girl and her father. Saleh Idriss Titi, communication to the author, confirms atrocities, saying that most of those killed were refugees.Google Scholar
  105. 130.
    Nazzal, see note 20, 62–63, documents the first and most important killing along with the names of the victims. Morris, see note 5, 253, documents the kill orders. Ehrlich, see note 2, confirmed the massacre and provided the names of soldiers and their commander and details about the second incident.Google Scholar
  106. 131.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 3, 536, talks about 33 casualties and also documents one rape. He also talks about an earlier attack in which 80 persons from the village were killed in battles. Amneh Najar (oral testimony, previously cited, see note 122) provides the name of the rape victim. Morris, see note 5, 256, mentions 100 people killed and wounded from the earlier attacks.Google Scholar
  107. 132.
    The massacre was first mentioned in 1951 by M.N. al-Khatib, From the Events of the Disaster or the Palestinian Disaster, 1951, 204–205, who presented a complete eyewitness account from a survivor, Marwan ‘Iqab al-Yahya. Al-Aref, see note 43,Vol. 6, 124, talks about 85 people killed in the village, but, as was his habit, does not use the term massacre; in the early 1990s an Arab newspaper in Israel, Kull al-Arab, published two testimonies about the massacre. In 1998, an Israeli leftist, Teddy Katz, submitted a soon-to-be controversial MA Thesis, “The Exodus of the Arabs from the Villages at the Foot of the Southern Carmel in 1948”, to Haifa University. For two opposed views of Katz’s work, see I. Pappe, “The Tantura Case in Israel: The Katz Research and Trial”, Journal of Palestine Studies 30 (2001), 19 et seq.; and Morris, see note 5, 299–301, note 671.Google Scholar
  108. 133.
    Oral testimonies taken by Rashad al Madani, for Birzeit Research Center document the killing of the Egyptian workers and the killing in the Muslim sanctuary; Benvenisti, see note 106, 137, describes what happened during the expulsion as “serious atrocities;” Morris, Birth, 127, documents the killing in the home.Google Scholar
  109. 134.
    S. Kanaana/ R. al-Madani, Kaufakha, Birzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #8, 1990, 43. Morris, see note 5, does not acknowledge fatalities — however, his map, xx, confirms a military assault on the settlement whose villagers “had earlier repeatedly asked to surrender, accept Jewish rule and be allowed to stay, to no avail” (ibid., 258).Google Scholar
  110. 135.
    In the Jamal Husseini report, dated 13 July 1948, entitled “Memorandum to the Secretary General of the United Nations on the Violation of the Truce by the Jews.” Morris, see note 5, 260, quoting a Gi’vati report talks about forces deployed in the area for “cleansing that was carried out to completion.” Morris says that on the eve of the first truce there were orders “to create facts of political importance” and to “clean” all the Arab villages that were occupied by the Egyptian forces. Here the reference was particulary to the villages of Jules and Yasur, which were to be occupied several hours before the start of the truce so that, according to Morris the Egyptians would have no time before the truce took effect to recapture them.Google Scholar
  111. 136.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 4, 903.Google Scholar
  112. 138.
    Menachem Attar (soldier)’s letter to editor, 2 May 1972, Yedi’ot Ahronot, quoted in Ehrlich see, note 2, 25.Google Scholar
  113. 140.
    Student interview with oral testimony of Amneh Ahmad Khalil Danyali, Bireh, 1999; student interview with Abdel Jabir Bajiss (Abu ‘Izat), Rafat, near Ramallah, 20 October 1999; student interview with Ahmad Rashid, Qalandia Refugee Camp, 10 November 1999.Google Scholar
  114. 141.
    Author interview with oral testimony of Samara Rantisi, el-Bireh, 2001; student interview with Hassan Abu Ghanim, Birzeit, 20 December 2000; student interview with Mohmmad Mahmoud Ibrahim, el-Bireh, 2 January 2001; student interview with Tawfiq Hussein Saleh, Birzeit, 2000. See also Slyomovics, see note 32.Google Scholar
  115. 142.
    Originally reported in al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 3, 631, and later confirmed with some difference in numbers and details by oral testimonies published in al-Itihad (Haifa newspaper), 6 January 1998, 11; and, finally mentioned by Morris, see note 5, 422–423.Google Scholar
  116. 143.
    Oral testimonies in al-Itihad, idem; Morris, Birth, 2nd ed., 422–423, using Golani documents, acknowledges the killing of ten inhabitants “while trying to escape.”Google Scholar
  117. 144.
    Al-Itihad, idem. In all, the sources agree that there were three atrocities committed in ‘Illut within three weeks and that they involved an initial expulsion and then continued raids against returnees. The sources differ on the number of fatalities, dates, and details. Morris, see note 5, 422, argues that “The available documentation does not paint a clear picture of what exactly happened.”Google Scholar
  118. 145.
    The Palestinian account of the massacre can be found in al-Mudor, see note 90, especially 28–30. Efrat ben Ze-ev, author interview, Hebrew University, 1996, translated and gave me copies of some of the correspondence between the IDF and the UN. For Morris, see note 5, 440 and 458, note 167.Google Scholar
  119. 146.
    Ben-Gurion, see note 23, 278 (AV), 369 (HV).Google Scholar
  120. 147.
    Student interview, Jalazoun Refugee Camp/Ramallah, 22 December 2000.Google Scholar
  121. 148.
    Morris, see note 5, 244.Google Scholar
  122. 149.
    For the massacre against the civilians see al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 3, 736, who talks about a massacre and names some of the victims, but to reconstruct a more complete picture, see Vol. 6, 29–30, 36–37, 39, 43, 51, 62–63, 72, 92, 94; for the massacre of the Egyptian soldiers see Ehrlich, see note 2, 25, citing Abraham Adan who was an IDF officer and eyewitness.Google Scholar
  123. 151.
    G. Gil’ad, “Hiram” Report Activites ‘B’ 290800-292000’, undated, IDFA 7249/49/170.Google Scholar
  124. 152.
    G. Gil’ad, “Hiram” Report Activites ‘C’ — 292000-300800’, undated, IDFA 7249/49/170.Google Scholar
  125. 153.
    Morris, see note 5, 501, note 120, on the massacre of prisoners; S. Kanaana/M. Eshtieh, Kofr Bir’am, Birzeit Research Center, Palestinian Destroyed Villages, series #13, 1991, 28; Palumbo, see note 63, 171, documents the killing of individuals who asked for receipts for their property from looting Israeli soldiers; Morris, Birth, 230; idem, see note 5, 474.Google Scholar
  126. 154.
    Nazzal, see note 20, 43.Google Scholar
  127. 155.
    In Morris, Birth, 230.Google Scholar
  128. 156.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 6, 125, was the first scholar to report the massacre. Later, Nazzal, see note 20, 93–95, provided a more accurate and detailed report compared to al-Aref. “About 70 of our men were blindfolded and shot to death, one after the other, in front of us. The soldiers took their bodies and threw them on the cement covering the village’s spring and dumped sand on them.” The testimony by Mouhamed Karim, Mukhtar of Safsaf in UN documents, # S-0636-003-002, “Subject files — UN Military Observer Records 9/8/48 — 23/03/4” reported by Major Loheac and Captain Ballanie on 13 December 1948, describes all the killings and rape. The first Israeli document to acknowledge the massacre is Israel Galili, a Mapam party leader and Israeli cabinet minister, quoted in Morris, Birth, 230, who reports: “52 men tied with a rope, and dropped into a well and shot. Ten were killed. Women pleaded for mercy. [There were] three cases of rape... A girl aged 14 was raped. Another four were killed.”Google Scholar
  129. 157.
    All sources confirm the massacres, but differ on whether the executions were performed in front of the assembled villagers. Sources also differ on what triggered this massacre. Morris claims an element of reprisal, but this is denied by Srour. The best primary source is E.S. Srour, Eilaboun: History and Memory, 1997, using the diaries of Fr. Marcos, the village priest who was an eyewitness and who interceded with the IDF. The UN documents (UNA (old numbers) 13/3.3.1, box 11, Atrocities September-November) are cited in Palumbo, see note 63, ch. 10, note 225. For the IDF denial to UN officers of this now well-known massacre, see Morris, note 5, 499, note 109, quoting IDFA 1261/49/4; additional eyewitness sources include an interview with Butrus Shukri Mata (Abu Hana), Sunara (newspaper), supplement, 31 October 1997, 6, who was wounded during the massacre and helped to bury the dead; and E. Srouji, “The Fall of a Galilean Village during the 1948 Palestine War: An Eyewitness Account”, Journal of Palestine Studies 33 (2004), 74 et seq., who explains the attempt to deceive UN observers. Al-Ayyam, in an article, 15 May 2000, reports on a monument in ‘Eilaboun to 28 villagers killed during the war.Google Scholar
  130. 158.
    The massacre was first disclosed by Nazzal, see note 20, 89, who talked about two men being executed. However, in an interview with the author, in Irvine, California, 6 June 1999, Saleh Edriss Titti, an eyewitness originally from Bi’neh, named four victims: from Bin’eh: Hana Elias Farhud and Ali Mohamad ‘Abed and from Deir al-Asad: Ahmad ‘Abdallah ‘Issa Assadi and Subhi Mahmoud Thabah. Morris, see note 5, 477, also gives four as the number killed. Palumbo, see note 63, 168, cites the UN reaction: UNA13/3.3.1, box 11, Atrocities September-November.Google Scholar
  131. 159.
    Al-Aref, see note 43, Vol. 6, 125, documents 89 killed, but without any other details. Ehrlich, see note 2, mentions “all men from 15 to 70.” UN Document S-0636-0002-003 Subject Files — Senior UN Military Observers Records 28 July 1948 — 30 November 1948 Field Observer’s Group: Beirut, “19 Septembre, 1948 No. 17/F: Reference votre lettre du 15 septembre 1948” reads: “The Jews of the Al Manara post have the habit, since August, to come and steal the grapes from the vineyards which belong to the villagers of Hula. Slowly, slowly they got bolder and they wanted to prevent the villagers from leaving their village to come the vineyards, which are in Lebanese territory. Deciding to defend their property, the villagers surprised the Jews in their vineyards in the Lebanese territory and they killed two on 2 September (Daily report of 4 September, 1948).”Google Scholar
  132. 160.
    Details from Israel Galili who reports: At Sa’sa there were cases of “mass murder [though] a thousand lifted white flags [and] a sacrifice was offered [to welcome] the army. The whole village was expelled.” Morris, Birth, 230 (and 354, note 37; Ben-Gurion, see note 23, 844 et seq., entry for 25 November 1948; Weitz, Diary, III, 357, entry for 25 November, 1948). For details on the killing of cripples, see report by Emmanuel Yalan (Vilensky) cited in Morris, Birth, 501, note 122.Google Scholar
  133. 161.
    Al-Aref was the first to report the massacre in Saliha, see note 43, Vol. 6, 125, with 45 casualties. In UN document # S-0636-003-002, the Mukhtar also reports 60 deaths by firing squad “Subject files — UN Military Observer Records 9/8/48 — 23/03/49 reported by Major Loheac and Captain Ballanie on 13 December, 1948”; Morris, see note 5, 481 and note 118.Google Scholar
  134. 162.
    Al-Aref, idem; Morris, see note 5, xvii, map notes. The village account in UN document, # S-0636-003-002, “Subject files — UN Military Observer Records 9/8/48 — 23/03/49” refers to Kafar Hanay, probably Kofr Annan. Kafar is definitely Kofr, and the French observer might well have transcribed the ‘ein sound as an “h.”Google Scholar
  135. 163.
    Author interview with Saleh Idriss Titi, quoting his aunt Fatmeh Othman Hassan ‘Abas, Irvine, California, 6 June 1999. For Said Mouhamed’s letter to the UN Observers, see UN documents, # S-0636-003-002, “Subject files — UN Military Observer Records 9/8/48 — 23/03/49”.Google Scholar
  136. 165.
    Morris, see note 5, 481, quoting army report.Google Scholar
  137. 167.
    For the story of Sha’b’s resistance see Nazzal, see note 20, 87. This is confirmed by UN document # S-0636-0002-003 “Subject Files — Senior UN Military Observers Records”, 28 July, 1948 — 30 November, 1948 Field Observers’ Group Beirut 21st September 1948 No. 21/F Reference votre lettre du 15.9.48 paragraphe 2. Incidents de Sha’b (173–255). Details of the deaths of the young men in the mud from Elias Khoure in personal communication to author. Nazzal, see note 20, 90, tells a story which implicitly confirms Elias Khoure’s account.Google Scholar
  138. 169.
    This is a very common discourse, exemplified by the comment of Yigal Allon who, in denying Yitzah Rabin’s narrative about the expulsions of Arabs from Lod, ends his denial with the assertion that “If a war had not been imposed on us, all this suffering could have been avoided” (quoted in D.K. Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, 1986, 35).Google Scholar
  139. 170.
    This, too, is a common position, threaded through the most recent discourse of Benny Morris in Ha’aretz.Google Scholar
  140. 171.
    See Z. Sternhell who says “The founding fathers and those who immediately followed them knew that if the Jews wanted to inherit the land, they would have to take it by force. Until the War of Independence they had no other choice” (Z. Sternhell, “The logic of body counts”, Ha’aretz, 2 April 2004).Google Scholar
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    Jawad, see note 17.Google Scholar

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© Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V. 2007

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  • Saleh Abdel Jawad

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