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Memories of the Deir Yassin massacre
Memories of the Deir Yassin massacre

Deir Yassin has become and still is a corrosive reminder of the continuous suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people that has been going on for 65 years.

Abdurrahman Aydin

“I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it”.
David Ben-Gurion, Meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive, 12 June 1938

“There is no choice: the Arabs must make room for the Jews of Eretz Israel. If it was possible to transfer the Baltic peoples, it is also possible to move the Palestinian Arabs."
Ze'ev Jabotinsky, 1939

“It should be clear to us that there is no room in Palestine for these two peoples. ... Without the Arabs, the land will become wide and spacious for us; with the Arabs, the land will remain sparse and cramped”.
Yosef Weitz, a leader of the Jewish National Fund

Friday, 9 April 1948, is one of the most unforgettable days in Palestinian history.

The Deir Yassin massacre marked one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history. Deir Yassin remains as one of the symbols of dispossession and humanity’s capacity for brutishness.

It was like a starting point of an avalanche that led to a catastrophe. With the goal of mass expulsion, Deir Yassin constituted a cornerstone in the implementation the Zionist policy to terrorize and erase the indigenous people from all of Palestine. This ultimately led to the exodus of more than 750,000 people from their homes. Currently, Palestinians have the largest refugee population in the world.

Deir Yassin has become and still is a corrosive reminder of the continuous suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people that has been going on for 65 years. When the village was raided to terrify people into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine. The massacre in Deir Yassin laid the blueprint for the construction of the present practice of apartheid in Israel.

The Zionist colonizers not only decided to capture Arab villages, but also they were determined literally to wipe them out from the map to make way for Jewish settlements. Zionist historian Benny Morris wrote: “Brigade and battalion commanders were given permission to raze or empty and mine hostile or potentially hostile Arab villages.”

Mounted loudspeakers on armored cars and touring a targeted area, the Zionists tried to induce panic. The Arab population was threatened to pay a heavy price if they insisted on staying in their homes. The psychological operation included loudspeakers mounted on jeeps broadcasting, amid barrel bombs, recorded sounds of horror and shrieks of frightened Arab women.

Deir Yassin was a typical Palestinian village, about 5 kilometers from Jerusalem, that had existed for hundreds of years. Most of its inhabitants worked hard in stone-cutting or in their fields and orchards. In the early hours of Friday April 9, 1948, the Zionist terrorist organizations, the Irgun and Stern Gang, with the knowledge and assistance of the Haganah, raided Deir Yassin as its people were in their sleep.

In fact, Deir Yassin had made a non-aggression pact with the Hagana in Jerusalem. Despite this pact, the Zionists decided to wipe them out because it was within the areas designated to be cleansed to make way for Plan Dalet. Ilan Pappe quotes David Shipler of the New York Times citing Red Cross documents showing that the Zionist attackers “lined men, women, and children up against the walls and shot them”. Pappe said “As they burst into the village, the Jewish soldiers sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of the women were raped and then killed”.

The victims of the massacre included unarmed elderly men, pregnant women and children. More than 100 people were murdered that day. The early accounts of the incidence reported 254 people were killed. Nowadays, even some Palestinian activists say this number was exaggerated by the Zionist perpetrators of the crime to intensify the wave of horror they spread by inciting panic and terror throughout the country.

Zionist leaders such as Ben-Gurion developed and implemented plans to empty Palestine of its native population in order to establish an exclusivist Jewish State that resulted in the catastrophe. The massacre of Deir Yassin was an outcome of carrying out a blueprint for ethnic cleansing known as Plan Dalet, mentioned above.

According to Plan Dalet, the Jewish armed forces were ordered to evict Palestinians from their homes by force. They were clearly instructed on the using various prescribed strategies to achieve their goals: large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding population centers; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and finally planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning. 

The Zionists did not wait for the British to depart before advancing the ethnic cleansing campaign. By the time of the British exit on 15 May 1948, Jewish forces had alreafy expelled or forced into exile a quarter of a million Palestinians and occupied 200 of their villages.

The atrocity in Deir Yassin was part of a broader plan designed by the Zionist High Command, led by Ben Gurion himself. As mentioned above, the aim was the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the British mandate territory and the seizure of as much land as possible for the intended Jewish state.

There are many accounts of what happened at Deir Yassin. Fahimi Zidan, a Palestinian child who survived by hiding under his parents’ bodies, recalled:

“The Jews ordered [us] … to line up against the wall … started shooting … all … were killed: my father … mother … grandfather and grandmother … uncles and aunts and some of their children … Halim Eid saw a man shoot a bullet into the neck of my sister … who was … pregnant. Then he cut her stomach open with a butcher’s knife … In another house, Naaneh Khalil … saw a man take a … sword and slash my neighbor …” 

One of the attacking forces, a shocked Jewish soldier named Meir Pa’el, reported to the head of his Haganah command:

“It was noon when the battle ended…Things had become quiet, but the village had not surrendered. The Etzel [Irgun] and Lehi [Stern] irregulars … started … cleaning up operations … They fired with all the arms they had, and threw explosives into the houses. They also shot everyone they saw … the commanders made no attempt to check the … slaughter. I … and a number of inhabitants begged the commanders to give orders … to stop shooting, but our efforts were unsuccessful … some 25 men had been brought out of the houses: they were loaded into a … truck and led in a ‘victory parade’ … through … Jerusalem [then] … taken to a … quarry … and shot … The fighters … put the women and children who were still alive on a truck and took them to the Mandelbaum Gate.”

A British officer, Richard Catling, reported:

“There is … no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young school girls were raped and later slaughtered … Many infants were also butchered and killed. I also saw one old woman … who had been severely beaten about the head with rifle butts …” 

Jacques de Reynier of the International Committee of the Red Cross met the “cleaning up” team on his arrival at the village:

“The gang … were young … men and women, armed to the teeth … and [had] also cutlasses in their hands, most of them still blood-stained. A beautiful young girl, with criminal eyes, showed me hers still dripping with blood; she displayed it like a trophy. This was the ‘cleaning up’ team, that was obviously performing its task very conscientiously.”

He described the scene he encountered on entering the homes:

“… amid disemboweled furniture … I found some bodies … the ‘cleaning up’ had been done with machine-guns … hand grenades … finished off with knives … I … turned over … the bodies, and … found … a little girl … mutilated by a hand grenade … everywhere it was the same horrible sight … this gang was admirably disciplined and only acted under orders.” 

The atrocity at Deir Yassin is reflective of what happened elsewhere in Palestine. It was a cornerstone of a systematic reign of terror, conducted to induce horror to terrorize the population that would make Palestinians left the land of their birth.

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