Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Deir Yassin Massacre


On April 9, 1948, members of the underground Jewish terrorist group, the Irgun, or IZL, led by Menachem Begin, who was to become the Israeli prime minister in 1977, entered the peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin, massacred 250 men, women, children and the elderly, and stuffed many of the bodies down wells. There were also reports of rapes and mutilations. The Irgun was joined by the Jewish terrorist group, the Stern Gang, led by Yitzhak Shamir, who subsequently succeeded Begin as prime minister of Israel in the early ’80s, and also by the Haganah, the militia under the control of David Ben Gurian. The Irgun, the Stern Gang and the Haganah later joined to form the Israeli Defense Force. Their tactics have not changed.

The massacre at Deir Yassin was widely publicized by the terrorists and the numerous heaped corpses displayed to the media. In Jaffe, which was at the time 98 percent Arab, as well as in other Arab communities, speaker trucks drove through the streets warning the population to flee and threatening another Deir Yassin. Begin said at the time, “We created terror among the Arabs and all the villages around. In one blow, we changed the strategic situation.”

From about 1938 on to the founding of Israel, Begin was the leader of the Irgun. That group regularly assassinated English soldiers in Palestine and frequently hung their booby-trapped bodies in public places. Under Begin, the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 97 British civil servants. The Stern Gang, under Shamir, also assassinated the U.N. representative to Palestine, Count Bernadotte, in 1948.

But Deir Yassin was not the only massacre by the Israeli Defense Force. That army, under Moshe Dayan, took the unarmed and undefended village of al-Dawazyma, located in the Hebron hills, massacred 80 to 100 of its residents, and threw their bodies into pits. “The children were killed by breaking their heads with sticks … The remaining Arabs were then sealed in houses, as the village was systematically razed …” (Nur Masalha, The Historical Roots of the Palestinian Refugee Question).

We read further. According to Yitzhak Rabin’s biography:

We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Alon repeated his question: “What is to be done with the population?” BG waved his hand in a gesture, which said: Drive them out! … I agreed that it was essential to drive the inhabitants out.

Continuing the narrative, Ben-Gurion University historian Benny Morris writes in “Operation Dani and the Palestinian Exodus from Lydda and Ramle in 1948”, Middle East Journal, 40

At 13.30 hours on 12 July [1948]… Lieutenant-Colonel Yitzhak Rabin, operation Dani head Operation, issued the following order: ‘1. The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age. They should be directed to Beit Nabala,… Implement Immediately.’ A similar order was issued at the same time to the Kiryati Brigade concerning the inhabitants of the neighboring town of Ramle, occupied by Kiryati troops that morning… On 12 and 13 July, the Yaftah brigades carried out their orders, expelling the 50-60,000 remaining inhabitants of and refugees camped in and around the two towns….

About noon on 13 July, Operation Dani HQ informed IDF General Staff/Operations: ‘Lydda police fort has been captured. [The troops] are busy expelling the inhabitants…. Lydda’s inhabitants were forced to walk eastward to the Arab legion lines; many of Ramle’s inhabitants were ferried in trucks or buses. Clogging the roads… the tens of thousands of refugees marched, gradually shedding their worldly goods along the way. It was a hot summer day. The Arab chroniclers, such as Sheikh Muhammed Nimr al Khatib, claimed that hundreds of children died in the march, from dehydration and disease. One Israeli witness described the spoor: the refugee column ‘to begin with [jettisoned] utensils and furniture and, in the end, bodies of men, women, and children.

There were many other such villages with Arabic names that have almost been expunged from memory–but not quite. These facts have always been known to some historians, however they have been consistently denied by the official Israeli histories, as, indeed, Israel has never taken any responsibility for the exodus of Palestinians from the land of the present state of Israel.

Within the last 10 to 20 years, however, there has been an exponential increase in historical studies of the origins of the state of Israel which have coincided with the release by Israel of many, but not all, of the historical and military archives. Ben-Gurion University historian Benny Morris, as well as others, have systematically mined these documents and found numerous instances of massacres, and, by the way, not one shred of evidence for the frequently repeated official Israeli lie that the Palestinians fled Palestine because the surrounding Arab states told them to.

In fact, according to UN estimates, which some say are conservative, 750,000 Palestinians fled the site of the present Jewish state in 1948. Those refugees and their descendents now number about 4.5 million and constitute the largest and longest standing refugee population in the world. Many live in squalid refugee camps distributed in the surrounding Arab states or in the West Bank or Gaza, many retain the titles to their land, recognized by the British before 1948 or the Ottomans before that , and many retain the keys to their front doors of their former homes in what is now Israel, whether or not those doors still exists.

The ’67 War generated a second wave of about 300,000 refugees from the West Bank and Gaza who were either expelled through direct or psychological methods or fled the Israel aerial attacks on the territories which included the extensive use of napalm.

The reader is invited to read the Hagana’s Plan D , which has been available in English since the 1960s and was a military strategy of 1948 that entailed the evacuation of the Palestinian population from the areas of a future Jewish state.

Those who invoke the suicide bombings against mostly Israeli civilians to infer the righteousness of the Israeli cause live in a twilight of psychic denial of an otherwise unambiguous historical record: the state of Israel was founded on terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

The suicide bombings inside Israel, the first of which only occurred in 1994, after 25 years of occupation, is only a side show. That is a symptom and long way from the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There will never be a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until Israel takes responsibility, under U.N. Resolution 194, calling for reparation of the Palestinian refugees, and recognizes the immense suffering it caused at that time. We need also to recognize the US is giving unqualified moral support to a state that is based on racial purity and one that is intrinsically expansionist.

William James Martin is a visiting Instructor of Mathematics at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. He can be reached at:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 20, 2016
Eric Draitser
Syria and the Left: Time to Break the Silence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Extreme Unction: Illusions of Democracy in Vegas
Binoy Kampmark
Digital Information Warfare: WikiLeaks, Assange and the US Presidential Elections
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Bogus History Lesson
Bruce Mastron
Killing the Messenger, Again
Anthony DiMaggio
Lesser Evil Voting and Prospects for a Progressive Third Party
Ramzy Baroud
The Many ‘Truths’ on Syria: How Our Rivalry Has Destroyed a Country
David Rosen
Was Bill Clinton the Most Sexist President?
Laura Carlsen
Plan Colombia, Permanent War and the No Vote
Aidan O'Brien
Mao: Monster or Model?
David Swanson
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Less Than Two Weeks
Victor Grossman
Suicides and Hopes and Fears
October 19, 2016
Dan Schiller – Shinjoung Yeo
The Silicon Valley Candidate
Mike Whitney
Trump Unchained
Paul Buhle
Criminalizing the Struggle: Incarceration and the Rise of the Neoliberal State
Linn Washington Jr.
Abusing the Abused: Philly Police Abuse Case Typifies All-Too-Common Misconduct by US Prosecutors
Terry Tempest Williams - Brooke Williams
Rejected by the BLM
Binoy Kampmark
Neither War Nor Peace: Shimon Peres, Israel and History
Patrick Cockburn
This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau Bullying on Trade Deal
Thomas Mountain
Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia
Serge Halimi – Benoît Bréville
The Limits of Eloquence: the Failures of Barack Obama
Mel Gurtov
America’s Dangerous Moment
Jerry Kroth
Questions for Obama Before Leaving Office
Michael Garrity
America is a Nation of Laws: Collaboration and Its Discontents
October 18, 2016
Srećko Horvat
The Cyber-War on Wikileaks
Zoltan Grossman
Stop the Next President From Waging the Next War
Jim Kavanagh
Hillary’s Hide-and-Seek
Robert Fisk
After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What?
Ted Rall
The 4 Things Hillary Could Do To Close the Deal Against Trump
Pepe Escobar
Why Hillary Clinton is a Bigger Concern for China than Donald Trump
Colin Todhunter
World Wide Fund for Nature: Stop Greenwashing Capitalism, Start Holding Corporations to Account
David Macaray
Whiskey Workers Go on Strike: I’ll Drink to That
James A Haught
After the Election, Back to Important Things
Arturo Desimone
How a Selective Boycott Can Boost External Support for Palestinians
Russell Mokhiber
If Chris Wallace Asks About Street Crime He Should Also Ask About Corporate Crime
Mark Kernan
Moloch in Paris: on the Anniversary of COP21
Carol Dansereau
The Hillary Push: Manipulation You Can Believe In
Andre Vltchek
Will They Really Try to Kill the President of the Philippines?
Sean Joseph Clancy
The Wreckage of Matthew: Cuba and Haiti
October 17, 2016
Paul Street
Pick Your Poison? Presidential Politics and Planetary Prospects
Patrick Cockburn
US Allies are Funding ISIS (and Hillary Knew All Along)
David Swanson
What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs
Fran Shor
A Rigged System?