The 1948 Deir Yassin Massacre as a Prequel to Hamas’ Assault

For Palestinians, April 9, 1948 launched a 76 year diaspora and calamity known as the Naqba (Catastrophe). Like Israel’s October 7, 2023 catastrophy, the April 9, 1948 Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin sent cataclysmic shock waves throughout Palestine, tremors whose reverberations extend to this day in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, unlike Israel’s October 7, 2023 trauma, the events of April 9, 1948 were but Israel’s launching pad for an ongoing 76 years of brutal massacres and expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians in 1948, and over 350,000 in 1967. The ethnic cleansing of Gaza is but a continuation of this dastardly policy of expelling Palestinians from their ancestral lands. In his diary, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, stated that “The compulsory transfer of Arabs from the valleys of the proposed Jewish state could give us something which we never had, even when we stood on our own feet during the days of the First and Second Temple. … We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places,­ then we have force at our disposal.”

And unlike the US and Western response and support for Israel post October 7, 2023, the US and (with few exceptions) European countries have never expressed serious objections or concern about Palestinian lives or their dispossession. If anything, they have been, and continue to be, complicit in the longest colonial crime in modern history.

Even though April 9, 1948, is a day of infamy for Palestinians, today few commemorative ceremonies will be allowed to be held anywhere – even in Palestine.

Seventy-six years ago today organized Jewish terrorist groups, including the Irgun and Stern Jewish terrorist gangs, attacked the Village of Deir Yassin, a Christian village whose population numbered some 600 people; 112 women children and old men were brutally butchered in a massacre that has been likened to the Babi Yar Nazi massacre of Jews in Kiev, Ukraine. Adding insult to injury, some of the survivors were stripped, loaded on flat truck beds, paraded in a demeaning triumphal drive through Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods where they were taunted by Holocaust survivors, driven out of town, and shot to death. Altogether, over 250 villagers were massacred. Under the cover of dark, 55 surviving children were loaded on trucks and dumped in a Jerusalem alleyway.

To her credit, Ms. Hind Husseini, the daughter of one of Jerusalem’s oldest Palestinian families, took the children in and opened an orphanage to house these youngsters whose parents were killed in a heinous crime. In 1948 and 1949 some 550 Palestinian villages were bulldozed and permanently wiped off the map. Some ironies: the Israelis would change the name of the village to Kfar Shaul, move Holocaust survivors into homes that were not destroyed, build a mental institution on the site, and the site itself is within full view of the Holocaust Memorial. Instead of being punished for this heinous crime, the leaders of these terrorist gangs would eventually become Prime Ministers and politicians.

The persecuted have become the persecutors. Reporters have documented the carnage: “corpses dotted the village’s square, several civilians were disemboweled, others were dumped into a well, and several women disfigured as a result of the malevolent theft of their jewelry – from their ears and arms. For those interested in pursuing the truth see Ofer Aderet’s (a self-hating Jew) complete and thorough July 16, 2017, report: Testimonies From the Censored Deir Yassin Massacre: ‘They Piled Bodies and Burned Them’ A young fellow tied to a tree and set on fire. A woman and an old man shot in back. Girls lined up against a wall and shot with a submachine gun. The testimonies collected by filmmaker Neta Shoshani about the massacre in Deir Yassin are difficult to” to fathom. Israeli historian Benny Morris remarked: “Whole families were riddled with bullets… men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. [Israeli terrorist gang] Haganah [sic.] 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.”

In a CP article under the title “The Deir Yassin Massacre,” Professor William James Martin wrote the following on May 13, 2004

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 [sic.], the militia under the control of David Ben Gurion. The Irgun, the Stern Gang and the Haganah [sic.] 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 [sic.], 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.”

The April 9, 1948 massacre of over 250 Palestinian civilians in the Christian Village of Deir Yassin (monastery of Yassin) has been whitewashed by Israel, the U.N., the media, and the so-called law-abiding civilized Western World – a world that lectures Palestinians on morality, the rule of law, and democracy – and a Western World that has sown the pestilence of genocidal wars, misery, and chaos – from as far as Libya to the west, and as far as Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Bangladesh to the east, and Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine in between.

Self-righteous knee-jerk liberals and Israel apologists such as AIPAC, Brett Stephens, including the Alan Silvermans (one of many characters whose unsavory and hateful emails show up in my in-box) are in the business of whitewashing myriad Israeli brutalities inflicted on Palestinians, the indigenous people whose ethnic cleansing continues to be the ultimate Israeli goal.

Professor Martin further states that:

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 [most of whom were Palestinian, including a relative]. 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).

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 events: 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.

To those interested in facts, I would suggest Ilan Pappe’s must-read book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Pappe is an Israeli citizen and Chair in History at University of Exeter; he is dubbed a self-hating Jew by the ardent defenders of the faith, Christian Zionists, and Israel’s apologists.

Based on extensive research extracted from the Israeli national archives, including personal interviews, witness accounts, a plethora of documentary materials, diaries, and tape recordings, Pappe’s book chronicles Jewish terror in pre-Israel Palestine. The second half of the book chronicles the post-April 9, 1948 implementation of the U.N. partition plan, a plan that robbed Palestinians of their lives, birthright, country, identity, properties, personal possessions, and dignity.

Emboldened by the Balfour Declaration, in the 1930s Zionists formulated a plan to ethnically cleanse Palestine of her indigenous population. Demonizing the Palestinians as cockroaches, jackals, subhuman, primitive, and dirty, and with the help of European Zionists, pressure was exerted on England to implement the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

Said declaration called for the establishment in Palestine a homeland for the Jews. Pappe documents Britain’s Machiavellian scheme in handing over Palestine to European Jews; that the Brits (pox on their house) were complicit in this crime is supported by their standing by as one defenseless Palestinian village after another was wiped off the face of the earth. In fact, British Mandate forces in Palestine provided logistical support to Jewish terrorist organizations, including military training and arms. Pappe cites the example of a British Sergeant who trained Jewish terrorists in using bayonets; the sergeant advised that “killing dirty Arabs” with bayonets will save ammo for other purposes.

According to Pappe, Plan Dalet was a military plan whose sole intention was to depopulate Palestine of her indigenous population so as to create an ethnically pure Jewish state. The plan followed a systematic implementation. First was the infiltration of Palestinian villages and communities by Jewish fact-gathering spies/personnel, often posing as businessmen or farmers who would befriend the locals to gather intelligence. And sometimes these Jewish spies (as they still do today) pretended to be Palestinian Arabs. The names of the Mukhtars (community elders) and the organizational community structures were inventoried; meticulous details of the villages’ layouts were recorded, and intelligence gathering on every aspect (rich farm lands, water resources, topographical data, demographics) were recorded. Pappe documents these materials under the heading “Village Files,” files that were eventually sent to the Tel Aviv headquarters of the Jewish leadership. Gathered over a period of fifteen years, including the interception of cables and communications (with British complicity) between Palestinian resistance leaders, this information set the stage for the implementation of Plan Dalet.

Simply put, Plan Dalet was a military plan whose sole intention was to terrorize, through sheer asymmetrical brutal force, unarmed Palestinians, and to drive them off their lands.

Under the cover of dark, Jewish terrorists would enter villages from the three weakest flanks; bombs would be thrown through windows of alternating homes and, as the terrorized villagers emerged from their homes, they were machine-gunned in cold blood. The same tactics were used either in the early or late hours of the day. With the help of masked informants, males were targeted for executions either in the center of the village square or on the outskirts of villages. Frequently one group of males was ordered to dig graves into which corpses were deposited and, Nazi-style, these unsuspecting villagers were in turn gunned down and deposited into mass graves. The coup de grȃce for rural Palestine was the summary expulsion of the entire population – this, after looting, the stealing of jewelry, and ISIS-style assaults on women and girls, including the raping of young girls.

As soon as a village was ethnically cleansed, the rich farmlands were appropriated for the collective Kibbutzim. The fate of most of the structures was a systematic demolition (bombing and razing) of homes, mosques, schools, and churches. Crimes that are still committed in the West Bank and especially Gaza – even as I write. In the span of three years, over 530 Palestinian villages were pulverized to rubble and permanently wiped off the face of historic Palestine, a land desecrated, blemished, and made unholy, a land whose Palestinian population lives in the grinding Artificial Intelligence slaughterhouse of a murderous regime run by a self-serving megalomaniac terrorist. Ironically, the AI program is called Gospel. I shall never forget what a Jewish friend told me: “in the synagogue pews [across America] were Jewish-Federation marked Tu Bishvat envelopes soliciting funds to plant trees in Israel.” To cover their dastardly deeds, Israeli leaders, with the help of Jews in diaspora, planted pine forests in each of the 530+ locations of what used to be Palestinian villages. And to this day the visible remains of homes, mosques, and churches, albeit in rubble reminiscent of ancient archeological sites, bear witness to the Jewish attempt to erase Palestine from the annals of history.

Little did these donors know that the trees were planted on razed Palestinian villages where a peaceful agrarian population thrived for centuries. In addition to this cynical coverup, on July 3, 2000 the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on the “The Great Tree Fraud Arboreal Scandal in Israel: Not all of the Trees Planted There Stay”” in which the Israeli government was exposed for hauling busloads of tourist/donors to sites where they were led to believe that their tree fund donations were put to good use. Appears that at dusk, the saplings planted earlier in the day with generous donations were “cynically” uprooted “to make way for the next day’s busloads.” The Maariv, “printed three photographs taken from the same vantage point on two consecutive days in late June”

Pappe calls this reprehensible policy of wiping forever Palestinian presence and identity as Memoricide.

How could the survivors of the Holocaust, those who want to keep reminding us of Nazi atrocities, undertake Gestapo tactics to effect this memoricide?

Presented in chronological order, Pappe’s meticulous recording of the genocidal carnage highlights the following: so successful were these Jewish terroristic crimes in ethnically cleansing some 300+ villages leading up to early 1948, the terrorists became emboldened as they began attacking urban centers. Beginning on page 91 and under the heading “Urbicide,” Pappe tells his readers that Ben Gurion and his henchmen moved on to urban Palestine in Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Safad. In Acre, the Jewish terrorists deposited typhoid viruses into the drinking water, thus killing scores of civilians. A similar attempt in Gaza was preempted when the two Jewish chemists were caught. In Haifa, barrel bombs (loaded with oil and explosives) were rolled down into Palestinian neighborhoods thus killing and terrorizing civilians, and jeeps, mounted with loudspeakers, drove through Arab neighborhoods in Jaffa, Haifa, and other urban centers advising Palestinians to flee lest they suffer the same fate as this or that village.

Jerusalem was the coveted prize of the murderous interlopers.

To frighten Jerusalem’s Palestinian population, the Posh Semiramis hotel in a West Jerusalem suburb was bombed killing, among other victims, a Spanish diplomat, and the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in which 94 people were killed when and entire wing of the hotel collapsed was a message to the British to acquiesce, keep their eyes blindfolded, keep their mouths shut, and to get out of Palestine – pronto.

Years later, Menahem Begin (the most wanted Jewish terrorist on whose head the Brits put a pile of Georges) would later become Israel’s Prime Minister, and he would brag about his role in this and other Irgun terrorist murderous crimes.

And yes, he would also be awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace. That’s akin to giving Goebbels or Mussolini The Humanitarian Man of the Year Award.

Which brings me to this…

The leadership of the Jewish terrorists realized that if Jerusalem’s Palestinian population could be terrorized and ethnically cleansed as the rural and other urban areas had been cleansed, then the prize was within their reach.

Thus, having perfected their killing tactics and having terrorized Palestinian villages with their successive successful ethnic cleansing tactics, and as previously stated, the Jewish terrorists set their eyes on Deir Yassin. Not only did the terrorist thugs commit a barbarity as heinous as Hitler’s Gestapo, but they went on to brag about it and broadcast, again, through jeep-mounted loudspeakers driven in Palestinian neighborhoods, to taunt, threaten, harass, and instill fear in the remnants of Palestine’s population

And thousands Palestinians fled for their lives, with only the clothes on their backs.

And thus began the Naqba (Ar. for Catastrophe). 750,000 Palestinians were cleansed from their ancestral lands. And the world stood by, as it still does today, as the 76-year tragedy plays out in repeated fashion..

Israel was born as a result of hatred, apathy, brutality and crimes of epic proportions. And because deeply embedded in Israel’s DNA is that same hatred, apathy, brutality, and monstrous penchant to subjugate, dehumanize, kill, and rule over a people yearning to have the yoke of occupation lifted, Israel has thrived on the banality of its ethnocentrism. Egged on by their politicians, military, and rabbinical leaders, the majority of Israelis consider the Palestinians as dirty Arabs, cockroaches, jackals, and subhuman.

The Israelis have built a Holocaust memorial to tell the world “Never Again.” The once-thriving Palestinian village of Deir Yassin lies in very close proximity to the Holocaust memorial. And what have the Israelis built on Deir Yassin’s holy site? Yes: A mental institution. Yes, a home for Meshugaim (Heb. For lunatics).For over 60 years Israel’s Prime Ministers came from the ranks of the Haganah, Irgun, Stern, and other Jewish religious fanatics. And today they are led by a racist warmonger abetted by another racist, bigoted, orange-haired schoolyard bully and a president more concerned about getting elected in November than he is about what his gift of 2,000 pound bombs are doing to turn Gaza into a graveyard from whence children – fragmented into shredded torsos – are wailing under the cold and cruel concrete and steel coffins

In 1988 La Belle Femme and I visited Bethlehem’s Church of the Holy nativity where we bought a few candles that hold special meaning. On special occasions I light a candle for a brief moment to think of someone special, someone in need of a cure, a miracle of sorts, to meditate, and to summon that deity whether She/He be Elohim, God, or Allah (and aren’t they all the same?) to somehow pull a Deus Ex Machina for a loved one, a friend, or an acquaintance. And for me faith teeters between believing and doubt, a kind of struggle between the heart and the mind, a migration from certainty to uncertainty and back again to certainty.

Today I will light the candle for a longer period of time to honor not only the memory of the innocent lives brutally wasted at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, but the lives of the thousands of Palestinians wasted in Gaza – by God’s Unchosen and their so-called Arab brethren.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.