The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people. The invasion occurred as Jewish militia sought to relieve the blockade of Jerusalem during the civil war that preceded the end of British rule in Palestine.While Wikipedia is widely considered as informative and well-respected informational source, not all the posts are equally accurate and based on the real facts.
Around 107 villagers (245-from other sources), including women and children, were killed. Some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes. Several were taken prisoner and may have been killed after being paraded through the streets of West Jerusalem, though accounts vary. Four of the attackers died, with around 35 injured. The killings were condemned by the leadership of the Haganah, the Jewish community's main paramilitary force, and by the area's two chief rabbis. The Jewish Agency for Israel sent King Abdullah of Jordan a letter of apology, which he rebuffed.
Facts and Commentaries
On April 2, 1948, the Arab inhabitants of Dir Yassin began sniping at the Jewish Quarters of Bet Hakerem and Yefe Nof. According to reports by the Shai (Haganah Intelligence), fortifications were being constructed in the village and a large quantity of arms being stockpiled. Several days before the attack on Dir Yassin, the presence of foreign fighters was reported, including Iraqi soldiers and irregular forces. An Arab research study conducted at Bir Zeit University (near Ramallah) relates that the men of Dir Yassin took an active part in violent acts against Jewish targets and that many of the men of the village fought in the battle for Kastel, together with Abd-el-Kadr el-Husseini. The report also stated that trenches had been dug at the entry to the village, and that more than 100 men had been trained and equipped with rifles and Bren guns. A local guard force had been set up and 40 inhabitants guarded the village every night.
On April 6, 1948, Operation Nachshon was launched by the Haganah with the aim of opening up the road to Jerusalem. The Palmach was part of this effort together with the Irgun (under Menachem Begin) and Lehi forces, their first combined operation. On Thursday, April 8, 1948 they launched an attack on Dir Yassin between 4 and 5 AM. A loudspeaker mounted on an armored car warned the Arabs and asked them to evacuate their women and children. Hundreds left, but hundreds stayed. A pitched battle ensued, and when the smoke cleared, 110 to 120 Arabs were killed, 40 Jews were seriously injured and four Jews were dead. The number killed has been confirmed even by Palestinian Arab researchers, such as Bir Zeit University professor Sharif Kanaana who puts the number no higher than 120. Another contemporary Arab source deflates the number killed to less than 100, stating, after a count, "that there were no more than 46 corpses". The head of the coroner unit, professor Yehoshua Arieli, testified that the number was 110.
The original claim of 254 dead was not based on any actual body count. The number was invented by Mordechai Ra'anan, leader of the Jewish soldiers who fought in Deir Yassin. He later admitted that the figure was a deliberate exaggeration in order to undermine the morale of the Arab forces, which had launched a war against the Jews in Mandate Palestine to prevent the establishment of Israel. Other eyewitnesses to the battle estimated that about 100 Arabs had died. Despite Ra'anan's admission, the figure 254 was circulated by Palestinian Arab leader Hussein Khalidi. His claims about Deir Yassin were the basis for an article in the New York Times claiming a massacre took place--an article that has been widely reprinted and cited as "proof" of the massacre throughout the past 50 years.
There were strict orders (documented) given in advance to the commanders and fighters not to harm the elderly, women and children. It was also stated explicitly that any Arab who surrendered was to be taken prisoner.
The use of the loudsepaker to warn the civilians to evacuate is a key point, certainly not the action of soldiers planning to murder the population. The loudspeaker is not in dispute. A publication of the Arab League titled Israeli Aggression states:
• On the night of April 9, 1948, the peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin was surprised by a loudspeaker, which called on the population to evacuate it immediately.The village was not peaceful, but the essential part of this quote agrees with Jewish accounts.
The massacre claim, meaning the killing of defenseless people, has long since been discredited by the Israeli government and every other historical study. The story persists because pro-Arab sources constantly repeat it, often inflating the number of dead to 250 or more. There are completely fictional accounts written about Arabs being marched to the mosque and shot against the walls, or even worse stories of torture, rape or any other shocking aspect the storyteller invents. As an example, here is how one Arab website describes the scene:
• [The Jews used] machine guns, then grenades and finished of with knives. Women's bellies were cut open and babies were butchered in the hands of their helpless mothers. Around 250 people were murdered in cold blood. Of them 25 pregnant women were bayoneted in the abdomen while still alive. 52 children were maimed under the eyes of their own mothers, and they were slain and their heads cut off.To say there is not a shred of evidence for these embellishments is giving them too much credit.
On the contrary, there are eyewitness accounts from the time, Jewish and Arab, which tell the story as it happened. For example, according to the Daily Telegraph, April 8, 1998, Ayish Zeidan, a resident of the village and a survivor of the fighting there, stated:
• The Arab radio 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. The Arab leaders committed a big mistake. By exaggerating the atrocities they thought they would encourage people to fight back harder. Instead they created panic and people ran away.Dir Yassin was a reasonable military target for Jewish forces, there was warning given before the battle, a fierce battle was fought with casualties on both sides. No massacre, no mutiliations, no atrocities.
Palestinian Arab eyewitnesses have recently admitted that some of their claims about Dir Yassin were deliberate fabrications. The issue of the Jerusalem Report dated April 2, 1998 describes a BBC television program in which Hazem Nusseibeh, an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service's Arabic news in 1948, admits that he was told by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Dir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state.
According to the Jerusalem Report:The BBC program then shows a recent interview with Abu Mahmud, who was a Dir Yassin resident in 1948, who says:
• Nusseibeh "describes an encounter at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City with Deir Yassin survivors and Palestinian leaders, including Hussein Khalidi... 'I asked Dr. Khalidi how we should cover the story,' recalled Nusseibeh. 'He said, "We must make the most of this." So we wrote a press release stating that at Deir Yassin children were murdered, pregnant women were raped. All sorts of atrocities.' "
• ... 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."Khalidi was one of the originators of the "massacre" allegation in 1948. It was Khalidi's claims about Jewish atrocities in Dir Yassin that were the basis for an article in the New York Times by its correspondent, Dana Schmidt (on April 12, 1948), claiming a massacre took place. The Times article has been widely reprinted and cited as "proof" of the massacre throughout the past 50 years.
Nusseibeh, who is a member of one of Jerusalem's most prominent Arab families and presently lives in Amman, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Dir Yassin were:
• "...our biggest mistake," because "Palestinians fled in terror" and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims.
Origin of the Hoax
Distinguished military historian, Dr. Uri Milstein, believes that the Israeli left in 1948 or Mapai, the party of Ben-Gurion in order to smear its 'right' camp, or the 'Irgun' and its commander Menachem Begin, used Dir Yassin, the battle. The party inflated the story and distorted the truth to build a weapon against the Right opposition to Mapai, the ruling Labor party. The person who invented the massacre is Israel's famous military historian, Col. (Ret.) Meir Pail, today, a defender of Mapai's history or military history. Also, a guardian angel of the Palmach's legacy, Dr. Pail, a military scholar has always argued that the Irgun's leaders and fighters should express regrets for this massacre and ask Israel for forgiveness. Dr. Pail developed the myth since 1948. Dr. Milstein argued that the Palmach also was not always clean.
In 1948, Labor Zionist leaders initially claimed there was a massacre, in order to score points against the rival Irgun Zvai Leumi and Stern Group, the fighters who conquered Deir Yassin. But Israel's Labor-led governments have, over the years, gradually rescinded the massacre accusation. A little-known 1952 Defense Ministry judicial court ruled that Deir Yassin was a legitimate military target. Official Israeli government statements about Deir Yassin, in 1960 and 1969 (under Foreign Ministers Golda Meir and Abba Eban), formally rebuked the Labor Zionist officials who had made the false massacre accusation in 1948, and officially declared that there was no basis for the "massacre" charge.
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