The 1948 Massacre at Deir Yassin Revisited
by Matthew Hogan
Between 9 and 11 April 1948, over 100 Arab townspeople were massacred by Jewish paramilitaries in Deir Yassin near Jerusalem in the British Mandate of Palestine. The incident was pivotal in modern Middle East history, becoming in one Israeli historian's words, "a landmark in the chronicles of the Israel-Arab conflict and a symbol of the horrors of war."(1) It greatly stimulated Palestinian Arab refugee flight and appears to have been critical in the final decision of the Arab states to intervene directly in Palestine in 1948 to thwart the creation of the state of Israel. The Deir Yassin incident, therefore, is intimately connected to the two main issues that have defined the Arab-Israeli conflict: the armed hostility to Israel by the Arab states and the enduring Palestinian refugee issue.
The massacre's historical prominence in such a major conflict has subjected it to various, often polemical, interpretations about its scope and causation.(2) This paper revisits the Deir Yassin incident to present an up-to-date narrative and analysis of the event based on a wide-ranging survey of available Israeli, Palestinian, and other sources that have emerged over time. These sources include very recent research and argumentation associated with the fiftieth anniversary of the incident, as well as the papers of journalist and author Larry Collins archived at Georgetown University. The latter are a rich and generally untapped collection of authoritative primary and secondary sources on the 1948 Middle East war.
The narrative that emerges is of a wartime tragedy of complex causation, neither wholly spontaneous nor wholly premeditated, during which an inept booty and morale-building raid by irregular Jewish fighters became an episode of prolonged slaughter and wanton abuse of Arab civilians. The study confirms an increasingly accepted lower casualty figure; that significant house demolition did not occur during the takeover, in contrast to most conventional reconstructions; the likelihood of sexual assault incidents; and the theorization of different motivational states during the course of the massacre.
The Deir Yassin incident was part of the Middle East war of 1948, variously referred to as the Israeli War of Independence, the First Arab-Israeli War, or the First Palestine War. The conflict arose out of decades-old competing claims of nationalist Jews and Arabs for sovereignty over Palestine (today Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip). European Jewish nationalists, organized as Zionists in 1897, sought to establish a Jewish state through colonization of Palestine, while Arab nationalists sought an Arab state for Palestine's Arab majority.
Although there existed a traditional Jewish community and a significant Jewish settler population in Palestine prior to World War I, Jewish immigration began in earnest after a British League of Nations Mandate was established over Palestine following Turkey's defeat in World War I. The Mandate incorporated the policy enunciated in the 1917 British Balfour Declaration favoring the establishment of a "Jewish national home" in Palestine. Intramural violence among Britons, Arabs, and Jews characterized different periods of the Mandate, with some of the worst strife occurring in 1929 and again from 1936 to 1939. The 1929 Arab-Jewish clash included deadly Arab attacks on the Jewish community, climaxing in the massacre of dozens of non-Zionist religious Jews in Hebron. The Arab rebellion against the British in the late 1930s led to the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Arabs through official counterinsurgecy and internal Arab disputes, as well as causing the deaths of hundreds of Jews in Arab raids, terror attacks, and combat against Jews who assisted the British.(3)
Despite such political tensions, Jewish immigration increased dramatically over the 1930s as Jews fled economic desperation and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe and particularly Nazi Germany. By the late 1940s, the Jewish population of Palestine constituted one-third of the total. After World War II, the existence of large numbers of displaced European Jewish survivors of Nazi genocide led to pressure for their settlement in Palestine, especially in light of Britain's adamant refusal to admit significant numbers of Jews after 1939, even during the Holocaust.
The 1948 warfare was presaged by a guerrilla insurgency by Palestine's Zionists against Britain following World War II, which led to Britain's unilateral decision in 1947 to terminate the Mandate by 15 May 1948. In November 1947 the new United Nations General Assembly recommended partitioning the territory. The official Zionist Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the U.N. partition proposal of one Jewish and one Arab state, with Jerusalem internationalized, but Arab leaderships inside and outside Palestine rejected the proposal as unfair and a violation of the rights of Palestine's much larger Arab population.
As British forces withdrew in anticipation of Mandate termination, surrounding Arab nations infiltrated irregular fighters into Palestine. Jewish paramilitaries also mobilized, and ethnic harassment and rioting expanded into sniping, village raids, and street combat. As take-no-prisoners ambushes, terror bombings, and village depopulation contributed to cycles of violence, British forces rarely intervened to halt the bloodshed. The Deir Yassin incident took place during this increasing civil strife inside Palestine.
The Arab nationalist forces then in Palestine were the Arab Liberation Army (ALA), which consisted mostly of volunteer foreign Arab soldiers. Some Palestinian Arabs joined in actions as individual volunteers or through the faza'a system in which village leaderships formally provided men and supplies. Rural villages, isolated by underdeveloped communications, clan insularity, and collapsing government, often effectively made their own policies. The Jewish community's forces were principally the Haganah (Defense) organization, which boasted many professionally trained and experienced soldiers, and the Haganah's strike force, Palmach, a product of the leftist kibbutz movement. Politically, the Labor Zionist-dominated Jewish Agency controlled the Haganah.(4)
Factionalism characterized both sides. ALA militia leaders answered to different foreign and local authorities. Besides the Haganah, Jewish forces included two smaller right-wing (known as Revisionist) Zionist organizations, the Irgun Z'vai Leumi (National Military Organization) and the Lochamei Herut Israel (Lehi, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, also called the Stern Gang or Group), which operated as independent guerillas. They opposed the partition plan, believing the proposed Jewish state should include all of Palestine and neighboring Transjordan (now Jordan). The Jewish Agency referred to these territorial maximalists as "dissidents."(5) These factions' entry into the ground fighting in early 1948 would precipitate the Deir Yassin massacre.
That spring, ground fighting became the "battles of the roads" as Arab forces attempted to cut off routes to Jewish settlements. The boldest effort was to besiege Jewish western Jerusalem--home to one-sixth of Palestine's Jews--by blocking the vital supply route from Tel Aviv and the coast. On 27 March, in a related action south of Jerusalem, a faza'a of Arab villagers ambushed a Haganah convoy from the Gush Etzion settlements.(6) Thirty-six Jewish fighters were killed, some of them wounded and deliberately executed, and the Red Cross delegate discovered that "their heads and sexual organs [had been] carefully mutilated" by the Arab fighters.(7) Jews were outraged, but morale sank as the siege intensified.
In early April, the Haganah initiated a large-scale counter offensive, Operation Nachshon. Palmach convoy escorts forced through supplies from Tel Aviv and set about to depopulate and destroy hostile roadside grab villages. Haganah forces in Jerusalem assisted by taking Kastel, a towering strategic roadside town. On 6 April, Jewish Jerusalem celebrated the successful Haganah relief efforts. The success at Kastel was short-lived, however, and full-scale fighting between Arabs and Jews over the town took place over the next few days. About the same time, the Haganah's rival Irgun and Lehi determined to enter the conflict by capturing an Arab village.(8)
Their main goal, in addition to improving Jewish morale, was to obtain supplies for their bases, according to Irgun officer Yehuda Lapidot. Irgun operations chief Yehoshua Goldshmidt urged Deir Yassin as a target. The village was an Arab Muslim stonecutter community of about 750 people, located a few kilometers east of Kastel on a rocky hillside west of Jerusalem and two kilometers south of the Tel-Aviv highway. Lying inside the United Nations' proposed Jerusalem international zone, its terraced stone houses descended eastward to meet a quarry-studded pathway from Jewish Jerusalem's western suburb, Givat Shaul.(9)
Goldshmidt, raised in that suburb, had been sworn by his father to avenge armed attacks emanating from Deir Yassin against Givat Shaul during Arab-Jewish-British strife of the 1920s and 1930s. But during the 1948 conflict, Deir Yassin was studiously honoring a Haganah-sponsored agreement to refrain from hostilities with neighboring Jewish areas in exchange for protection from Jewish attack. One Lehi member, David Siton, protested that hitting a nonhostile village might endanger western Jerusalem. A Lehi reconnaissance appears to have confirmed the village's nonhostility. And although Irgun district commander Mordechai Raanan insisted Deir Yassin was part of an Arab logistical route to Kastel, he had to concede after another reconnaissance that the town appeared docile.(10)
In fact, the town had nurtured its quietness vigilantly, training guards for watch patrols and carefully maintaining contacts with both sides. Villagers provided intelligence to the Haganah and even cooperated while the Haganah took the strategic Sharafa ridge between Deir Yassin and the nearby ALA base at Ein Kerem. Deir Yassin repeatedly repelled, once with reported loss of life, ALA attempts to infiltrate troops into Deir Yassin. Haganah intelligence confirmed in a secret report after Deir Yassin's capture that the town had stayed "faithful allies of the western [Jerusalem] sector."(11) Yona Ben-Sasson, Haganah commander in Givat Shaul, later recalled that "there was not even one [hostile] incident between Deir Yassin and the Jews,"(12) despite increasing Arab military activity in the vacinity.
As the battle for Kastel seesawed and Operation Nachshon continued, the Irgun and Lehi took their plans to attack Deir Yassin to the Haganah for coordination. Rivalry made matters tense, especially with the guerrilla groups loudly denouncing the internationalization of Jerusalem accepted by the Jewish Agency. Discussions from 6-8 April reveal that a takeover of Deir Yassin was also a Haganah war aim in order to make the pathway from Givat Shaul an airstrip. Still, the Haganah preferred a peaceful occupation through villager cooperation, and Haganah Jerusalem commander David Shaltiel therefore initially rejected the guerrillas' plan. Instead, the Haganah asked them to help attack Kastel or other targeted villages.(13)
The Revisionist groups refused to budge, and Shaltiel ultimately gave in, writing to Jerusalem guerrilla heads Raanan and Yehoshua Zetler that "I have nothing against your carrying out the operation." The letter confirmed that Deir Yassin's ultimate takeover fit Haganah planning, though it warned against blowing up houses lest the townspeople flee and thereby permit hostile forces to use the ruins as cover for attacking the airstrip project. The letter also directed them to hold the village after capture.(14)
Shaltiel's acquiescence met internal resistance. When Meir Pa'il, local chief of the Jewish Agency's antidissident intelligence, objected to violating the village agreement, Shaltiel maintained that he lacked sufficient power to stop the guerrillas. Haganah Jerusalem intelligence chief Yitzhak Levi urged notifying the town that the truce was over, but Shaltiel refused to endanger a Jewish operation by warning Arabs.(15)
The guerrillas' internal planning discussions stymied on the issue of Deir Yassin's inhabitants. A Lehi proposal suggested "liquidating" them "to show the Arabs what happens when the IZL [Irgun] and the Lehi set out together."(16) "The majority," Irgun officer Ben-Zion Cohen recorded, "was for liquidation of all the men in the village and any other force that opposed us, whether it be old people, women, or children."(17) The recent Gush Etzion and Atarot take-no-prisoners actions by Arabs and subsequent mutilation of Jewish bodies were on their minds. Irgun command in Tel-Aviv (headed by Menachem Begin, later prime minister of Israel) is said to have directed that fighters avoid inflicting unnecessary casualties and warn the villagers by loudspeaker to surrender or take flight.(18)
The attack was set for early morning on Friday, 9 April, perhaps, as some guerrillas have since contended, partly as a distraction from a Haganah attack on Kastel or a convoy movement. An odd entry in Shaltiel's log for that morning tells of cabling the Palmach Operation Nachshon chief that Arabs in Deir Yassin had set up a mortar to shell a convoy. The mortar report is not credible as it is inconsistent with all other sources, including other statements by Shaltiel, and there is no record of the alleged message being received. The notation may have been an attempt to justify to the Palmach allowing the rightists to hit a friendly town, or it may simply be a misstatement. No Arab mortar in Deir Yassin is reported as a fact or concern by any other source before, during, or after the attack.(19)
On the night of 8-9 April, the guerrillas assembled about 132 men, 72 from Irgun and 60 from Lehi, as well as some women to serve as support. Most were teens lacking military training or experience. The Irgun provided three Bren machine guns, rifles, and Sten (automatic) guns, many of which were in poor condition. In addition, two hand grenades per man were issued. The small arsenal meant that rear personnel received no weaponry, expecting to acquire them from casualties. The stretcher-bearers had only clubs. Ammunition supply was similarly low, but the troops were optimistic, anticipating an easy victory. While according to most insider accounts, instructions were given to minimize casualties, some guerrillas nonetheless anticipated inciting panic throughout Arab Palestine by their actions in Deir Yassin.(20)
From Givat Shaul, a Lehi unit prepared to approach Deir Yassin from the east, while a truck was to take the pathway westward and warn the villagers by loudspeaker to flee. Meir Pa'il and a photographer accompanied the Lehi "to watch their military performance"(21) About 3:00 A.M., one Irgun section moved west from the Jerusalem suburb Bet Hakerem to approach the Sharafa ridge, while a second turned north to approach Deir Yassin from the south. Fighting broke out about 4:45 A.M. by accident, when concealed Irgunists encountered a village guard calling in Arabic "Muhammad," "Ahmed," or perhaps "yahud" (Jews). One attacker, thinking it part of the guerrillas' Hebrew recognition phrase "achdut lochemet" ("fighting in unity"), responded. Revealed, the Irgun unit gave the starting signal, machine gun tracer bullets.(22)
Chaos ensued. The loudspeaker truck became stuck in a ditch or trench, its Arabic broadcast urging flight to Ein Kerem too remote for effective notice. As gunfire and hand grenades warned of imminent danger, screams and panic overtook Deir Yassin, and villagers, many clad in nightclothes, filled the southwestward route to Ein Kerem. Agile young male villagers fled quickest in the initial panic. Several women at the bakery were separated from their families and hid inside the mukhtar's (mayor's) house, a multi-storied dwelling at the town's summit. Thinking quickly, the girls' schoolteacher, Hayat Balabseh, refused flight, retrieved a first aid kit for wounded, and recovered guns from the dead.(23)
At the Sharafa ridge, villager fire inflicted casualties and drove off the Irgun. With the path from Deir Yassin to Ein Kerem free of fire, some Deir Yassin men returned over the next few hours, and the attackers' anticipated easy victory became increasingly elusive.(24) The Lehi unit's advance stopped at the town's center, holding only the town's lower eastern section, and the Irgun's northward advance became a crawl. The attackers' fighting performance matched their poor progress, as weapons failed to work and some fighters could not operate the ones that did. A few tossed hand grenades without pulling the pins. One Lehi unit commander, Amos Keynan, was wounded by his own men.(25)
Command and control evaporated as the organizations failed to cooperate effectively. Attacking units wandered off, leaving some wounded out of reach, and defender fire inhibited evacuation of those wounded who were retrieved. The villagers sniped effectively from higher positions in the town's west, particularly the mukhtar's house, and contained attacker advance. Fear and frustration overtook the Lehi units, and some went for help to the Haganah's Camp Schneller in Jerusalem.(26)
By 7:00 A.M., ingress and egress at Deir Yassin was gravely hindered and as many as four attackers were dead. In the Irgun attack in the town's south, one commander, Yehuda Segal, fell mortally wounded. Ben-Zion Cohen, the field operations chief, was also hit, though less seriously. The Irgun unit decided to withdraw.(27) At that point the Deir Yassin massacre most likely began. "We had prisoners and before the retreat we decided to liquidate them," Irgun officer Yehoshua Gorodenchik recorded. "We also liquidated the [Arab] wounded."(28) Cohen more obliquely reported that "we eliminated every Arab we came across up to that point," fearing, he alleged, battle starting up in the rear.(29)
The Irgun retreat and prisoner executions did not end the operation. When word came of the Lehi's eastern penetration, the Irgun forces joined them, securing themselves among the sturdy stone houses and behind fences. The attackers evacuated some of the non-walking wounded by forcing captured village women to transport them in order to discourage villager fire. The Haganah in Givat Shaul obtained limited authorization to assist evacuation of attacker wounded by cover fire, as some wounded remained out of reach. Haganah Etzioni Brigade intelligence officer Mordechai Gihon reoccupied the Sharafa ridge and directed Spandau machine gun fire for an hour and a half toward Deir Yassin, and between it and Ein Kerem. Haganah troops in other suburbs added supporting fire, thus preventing Arab reinforcement or counterattack. The firing also hit fleeing villagers and perhaps some Irgunists.(30)
Some guerrillas, possibly with the loudspeaker, called unsuccessfully on the defenders to surrender, but villagers from Deir Yassin's higher western side continued to shoot at anything or anyone entering or advancing. "We expected the fighting to last two or three hours," one villager recalled, "after which they would retreat,"(31) but the stalemate persisted. Meanwhile, villagers unable to evacuate cowered in the homes among which the guerrillas maneuvered. Attacker frustration settled upon them as they were captured.
Fahimi Zeidan, then a 12-year-old girl, remembered hiding with her own and another family when the house door was blasted open. The guerrillas took them outside. An already wounded man was shot, she said, and
when one of his daughters screamed, they shot her too. They then called my brother Mahmoud and shot him in our presence, and when my mother screamed and bent over my brother (she was carrying my little sister Khadra who was still being breast fed) they shot my mother too.(32)
The children and others were put against the wall and fired upon. She and some other children were wounded, but survived.
Villagers recall townspeople being shot as they fled or helped the injured. One guerrilla was seen at a house window with a machine gun, firing upon anyone going past. As attacker rage increased, guerrilla members produced knives they brought or found in the houses. Haleem Eid, a woman, reported seeing "a man shoot a bullet into the neck of my sister Salhiyeh who was nine months pregnant" and then brutally stab the body.(33) A then eight-year-old girl named Thoraya later recalled cowering behind her aunts as they were stabbed to death. Villager accounts indicate that as many as 33 civilians were executed firing squad-style in the morning.(34)
As the guerrillas' supplies dwindled and their hopes waned, they traded incompatible ammunition, possibly found in Deir Yassin, with the Haganah for compatible bullets. A few Palmachniks from Jerusalem's Camp Schneller arrived with a small mortar. Accounts of this intervention are confused, but clearly it was ineffectual. About 10:00 A.M., however, a sizable Palmach unit arrived, commanded by Mordechai "Yaacov" or "Yakki" Weg. They brought an armored vehicle and also either brought a two-inch mortar or took control of the earlier one.(35)
Haganah district commander David Shaltiel had authorized Weg to further help rescue attacker wounded, though Weg communicated on arrival that he was acting on his own initiative. Reviewing the situation, he agreed that the dispersed guerillas and their wounded could not be assisted without suppressing all hostile fire, and the Palmach's rescue effort thus expanded to taking the entire town. Weg ordered the mortar and truck down the path from Givat Shaul while 17 Palmachniks went around to attack from the north. The mortar lobbed three shots towards the mukhtar's house, silencing its snipers. The unit entered the town in practiced formation, lobbing hand grenades into houses from which fire had come. Serious resistance ended, as Lehi officer David Gottlieb saw the Palmach accomplish "in one hour what we could not accomplish in several hours."(36)
The small Palmach unit's quick injury-free success, along with light guerrilla casualty figures, confirm that Deir Yassin's defense was neither tough nor professional. Only four attackers had been killed, four seriously injured (one to die later), and 28 "lightly wounded," according to the Irgun's contemporary account.(37) Fatal casualties inflicted at Deir Yassin thus amounted to 1 in 26 fighters (it appears that Segal died later, a fifth fatal casualty), a rate exceedingly below the same war's average Israeli combat death rate of 1 in 6. Professional ALA forces appear not to have been present except perhaps for a few stragglers, deserters, infiltrators during the fighting, or guests. Hard contemporary corroboration through precise ALA numbers or captured ALA weaponry is conspicuously absent; contemporary Haganah intelligence would flatly conclude that no foreign Arabs had been present.(38)
Many published reconstructions of the takeover describe several houses demolished by explosives.(39) Significant house demolition almost certainly did not occur, however. "No house in Deir Yassin was bombed," Pa'il emphatically recalls,(40) and subsequent independent visitors to the scene did not mention structural demolition. Yehoshua Arieli, who witnessed the village soon after its fall and was part of the burial operations, confirms that he saw no sign of systematic house destruction.(41) Haganah visitor Eliyahu Arbel specifically recalled finding dead inside houses "with no signs of battle and not as a result of blowing up the houses."(42) Menachem Adler, a nonparticipant Irgunist who entered the town over the next few days, has said that "I didn't see the destruction that is always recounted."(43) Furthermore, it is unlikely that inexperienced and undersupplied fighters under fire efficiently maneuvered explosives around defended houses. Published reconstructions of Deir Yassin appear to derive their eyewitness-based accounts of demolished houses ultimately from guerrilla participant recollections made after the event had become notorious, and that are likely designed to explain away villager deaths as combat accidents rather than deliberate massacre.
When the fighting ended about 11:00 A.M., Deir Yassin turned quiet. Several villagers escaped. Jewish wounded were treated and moved, and prisoners were rounded up as Palmachniks and guerrillas began to "clean up" houses to secure them. When Weg indicated to Meir Pa'il also that the Palmachniks had come on their own, Pa'il urged Weg to "get away from here! Don't get mixed up with the Irgun and Stern Gang."(44) The Palmach unit withdrew, and Pa'il, pinned in a house in the morning, was probably unaware of the attackers' excess killing during the early morning standoff.
The Irgun's Ben-Zion Cohen, evacuated as wounded about this time, summarized what may have been the prevailing attitude: "[We] felt a desire for revenge."(45) Between 11:00 A.M. and 12:00 noon, the desire became realizable. Irgun commander Raanan recalled that some men found the house where Yehuda Segal had fallen earlier. Nine people surrendered, including at least one woman and child. Another woman among them was discovered to be an armed man in disguise. Ranaan related that a guerrilla with a Bren machine gun executed them all, yelling "This is for Yiftach [Segal's nom de guerre]!"(46) Other accounts also suggest this may have set off the major killing. One villager has stated that the attackers appeared to have been set off by an Irgun commander's death; still others reported that upon discovering an armed man disguised as a woman, one guerrilla began shooting everyone around, followed by his comrades joining in.(47) Whatever the precise trigger, if any, the massacre began afresh.
Meir Pa'il recalled that he "started hearing shooting in the village. The fighting was over, yet there was the sound of firing of all kinds from different houses." The sounds were of "sporadic firing, not like you would [normally] hear when they clean a house."(48) He observed no orders or commanders directing the actions, just groups of armed guerrillas, eyes glazed, running about "full of lust for murder."(49)
Inside the houses, scores of villagers unable to escape earlier had sequestered themselves. Crowded into corners, residents were gunned down or blasted by hand grenades. Killings were not always quick. "You could hear the cries from within the houses of Arab women, Arab elders, Arab kids," Pa'il remembered.(50) Pa'il and his photographer followed "groups of men running from house to house looting and shooting, shooting and looting."(51) Mohammed Jaber, a village boy, hid under a bed, where he observed the guerrillas "break in, drive everybody outside, put them against the wall and shoot them."(52) One victim was holding a three-month-old baby. Mohammed remembered his mother screaming for a long time before she died.(53)
Some prisoners did not survive capture. Taken alive, Fahimi Zeidan, her wounded siblings, and some women encountered a captured pair of village males. "When they reached us, the soldiers [guarding us] shot them." When the mother of one of those killed started hitting the fighters, "one of them stabbed her with a knife a few times."(54)
Inside the houses, Pa'il and his partner photographed "people dead in the corners--an old man, a wife, and two children, here and there a [young adult] male."(55) Irgunist Yehoshua Gorodentchik has confirmed that "about 80 prisoners were killed after some of them had opened fire." [Male] Arabs dressed as Arab women were found, and so they started shooting the [surrendering] women also."(56) Although some village men did disguise themselves as women to escape detection, those statements contain partial rationalizations, as many villagers died in different locations after capture and many were children. Journalist Dan Kurzman learned from Deir Yassin veterans that some participants had "cold-bloodedly shot every Arab they found, man, woman, or child."(57) Villagers trying to run away also were gunned down.(58) Pa'il implied that he confronted the guerrilla commanders, but he has since admitted that the attackers' murderous ferocity, the situation, and his predicament as an infiltrator froze him in "a psychological trap" during the massacre: "I didn't know what to do."(59)
In addition to taking basic supplies like food and livestock, as originally planned, looting included direct robbery. Zeinab Akkel offered all her money (about $400) to protect her younger brother. One captor took the money and "then he just knocked my brother over and shot him in the head with five bullets."(60) The violence grew more organized, and in the early afternoon, the attackers appropriated village trucks to carry prisoners in a triumphal "victory parade" through neighborhoods in Jerusalem.(61) A group of males went early, and the Lehi's Yehuda Marinburg recalled that after the males were returned to Deir Yassin, "we executed the prisoners."(62) Aviezer Golan, a journalist close to the Irgun, learned from them that "the 20 eldest males among [the captives] were immediately executed."(63) Meir Pa'il appears to have directly witnessed this, recalling photographing an estimated 25 males shot by firing squad in the town quarry.(64)
The surviving captives numbered about 150, with as many as 70 injured. Pa'il recalls the guerrillas in the afternoon surrounding prisoners in a schoolhouse and threatening to blow them up. By then, news of the slaughter had reached Givat Shaul, and Pa'il recalled seeing many residents venture down the pathway to Deir Yassin. These included traditional religious Jews who furiously reproached the guerrillas in Hebrew and Yiddish. "Don't do it, you murderers!" "Stop it, you bastards!" they said.(65) They protested that Deir Yassin had been a friendly village.(66) This intervention may have caused a letup.
Trucks were loaded with villagers between 2:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M for their removal to Arab East Jerusalem, but not before additional humiliation. Fahimi Zeidan remembered that they "put us in trucks and drove us around the Jewish quarters, all the while cursing us."(67) The prisoners were paraded openly to raise city morale.(68) Harry Levin, a Haganah broadcaster and future Israeli diplomat, recorded seeing "three trucks driving slowly up and down King George V Avenue bearing men, women, and children, their hands above their heads, guarded by Jews armed with sten-guns and rifles." One captive was "a young boy, a look of anguished horror bitten into his face, his arms frozen upright."(69)
Many attackers' violence and rage had expanded beyond simple execution of captives. Villagers have affirmed that while in Deir Yassin, prisoners were terrorized, robbed, and brutalized. Women were stripped of their traditional modest attire and their jewelry torn from their bodies. One woman's son was reported stabbed to death in her arms.(70) The captives were told that "they were going to slaughter us, and make `kifta' [meat kebab] out of us."(71) Old women apparently were assaulted as well. A British policeman recorded seeing a surviving elderly woman's head evidence battering by rifle butts. Some captives were taken to the Sheikh Bader neighborhood Lehi base where, Haganah intelligence recorded, a baby was killed and then its mother as she fainted.(72) Lehi member Baruch Nadel has corroborated that in Deir Yassin "there were people killed in the most brutal way."(73)
Some village women and girls appear to have been raped, a few apparently killed afterwards. "There is no doubt," a British police investigation concluded, "that many sexual atrocities were committed."(74) This issue merits close examination because questioning of sexual assault allegations at Deir Yassin has been used to suggest that the entire massacre is subject to doubt.(75)
Doubts about sexual assault are principally reinforced by some Deir Yassin males' accusation that rape charges were fabricated by Palestinian Arab spokespersons to encourage external Arab military intervention. These denials carry minimal, if any, weight. First, the men are not competent witnesses as to what did not happen to others. Second, and much more significant, is a well-known cultural phenomenon that hinders accurate investigation of war crimes against women. As a recent account of Kosovo war crime investigation explains,
Rape is a deeply sensitive subject in ... a Muslim and largely traditional society, where a sexual assault can permanently stigmatize a woman, shaming her family. Gathering first-hand accounts of rape has proven very difficult for war crimes investigators, and the scale of sexual assaults ... may never be fully known.(76)
While the Islamic faith does not advocate stigmatizing a victim of sexual crime, cultures associated with the faith are often characterized by this patriarchal sensitivity. The vehemence of some Deir Yassin villager denials intrinsically corroborates the presence of such a similar family-honor-before-truth sensitivity.(77) Why passionately defend one's victimizers unless a uniquely irrational stigma attaches to the form of victimization?
Muhammad Arif Sammour, former village schoolteacher and later a Jordanian education official, commented revealingly to author Eric Silver that "I didn't hear or see anything of rape.... None of the other survivors ever talked to me about that kind of thing. If anybody told you that, I don't believe it."(78) Carefully read, Sammour's phrasing not only does not deny that rapes occurred, it confirms the subject's sensitivity and admits to a prejudice about the issue. It also suggests that such incidents may not have been discussed with or disclosed to other villagers.
While the results of a secret April 1948 British Mandate criminal investigation into Deir Yassin have not been fully disclosed, the investigation's dossier was obtained by journalists Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre about 1970. According to the dossier, one woman, among others, described being assaulted while "other women around me were being raped, too."(79) The British investigation, according to Collins and Lapierre, included "corroborating physical evidence obtained through medical examination of the survivors."(80) In a more recent documentary, one female survivor nodded affirmatively when asked about "molestation" of captive women.(81)
The British investigation reflected professionalism and authenticity. It noted the personal and cultural difficulties in getting the women to discuss the subject, as well as their severe emotional breakdowns while recording their statements. British bias against the Irgun from prior conflict cannot explain this report away; rape charges are superfluous in a massacre, and moreover have no vilification value if kept secret.(82)
Rape over the course of the Deir Yassin incident is also credibly suggested simply in light of the long duration and wantonness of the general violence, much of which occurred against women. Rape is common in war and a known excess of both sides of the 1948 conflict.(83) Meir Pa'il saw no rapes during his presence in the town, but his presence was limited in duration and movement.(84) While some massacre aftermath visitors also recall seeing no specific evidence of rape, all bodies were not systematically examined, and corpses were eventually burned and moved. Far more telling, some witnesses did report sexual anatomy violence. Further, since sexual assault claimants were released alive and village captives were also transported to other locations, evidence from the village bodies or even the village itself cannot wholly negate the likelihood of sexual assaults. Thus, the presence of sexual assault remains a likely part of the incident in light of credible contemporary allegations and the violent nature of the incident, as well as the bias and lack of direct knowledge by those dismissing the possibility.
That the rampage was broad and ruthless was abundantly evident to initial observers. When Shaltiel's adjutant Yeshurun Schiff explored Deir Yassin Friday afternoon, the village looked as if the guerrillas had chosen "to kill anybody they found alive."(85) About 3:00 P.M., the Haganah's Mordechai Gihon was sent in and experienced "moral shock" at the sight.(86) Unnerved by guerrillas "eating with gusto next to the bodies," Gihon fretted politically about the fallout from "the murder of falachim [Arab peasants] and innocent citizens."(87) Meanwhile, Pa'il left to write a final report for the Jewish Agency leadership. His photographer developed only negatives of their film to prevent its discovery and circulation for fear of damaging publicity for the Zionist side.(88) The Deir Yassin massacre did not end on Friday, 9 April; until he was found and released the next day, young Mohammed Jaber could still hear screams and shots. A guerrilla or Haganah squad found him and others and brought them to Arab Jerusalem. The guerrillas' "cleanup" continued through Saturday and Sunday, 10-11 April, as Shaltiel pressed the guerrillas to stay and bury the dead. The guerrillas delayed, and the spectacle worsened.(89) On Saturday, Haganah operations officer Eliyahu Arbel inspected the town. "I have seen a great deal of war," he related 24 years later, "but I never saw a sight like Deir Yassin," largely comprised of "the bodies of women and children, who were murdered in cold blood."(90)
On Sunday, Palestine Red Cross delegate Jacques de Reynier, accompanied by members of the Jewish Magen David Adom medical organization, obtained access to the village. By then, a disciplined "cleanup" was in progress. De Reynier could hear shots and screams as well-equipped teens combed the town and thoroughly looted its houses. Stopped near Deir Yassin's entrance, he could make out a man and woman being stabbed to death. The squad leader--probably Lehi officer Petachiah Zalivensky--assured him that "cleanup" would leave "not a single Arab alive." De Reynier did find some still alive, however, including a maimed little girl.(91)
The dead had been "deliberately massacred," de Reynier discerned readily.(92) Alfred Engel, an accompanying Jewish doctor, saw that "it was clear that [the attackers] had gone from house to house and shot the people at close range."(93) "I had been a doctor in the German Army for five years in World War One," Engel later reflected, "but I never saw such a horrifying spectacle."(94) De Reynier reported his findings to Jewish and Arab authorities, and with great difficulty, dodged the press.(95) With the dead unburied, the Red Cross planning to return, the British contemplating attacking the guerrillas, and a new battlefront opened near Deir Yassin, by Monday, 12 April, the Haganah decided to take full control of Deir Yassin from the Irgun and Lehi.(96)
The precise timing and sequence of burial operations remains unclear, but eventually the Haganah's Gadna youth brigade formed the final burial crew. Crew leader Yehoshua Arieli found the Deir Yassin site "absolutely barbaric," and younger members were sent away. Gadna commander Zvi Ankori "entered six or seven houses" and, as he later revealed, found several bodies sexually mutilated.(97) Female burial crew member Shosanna Shatai went into shock after finding an apparently pregnant woman with a crushed abdomen. The small crews slowly hauled about 70 bodies to a quarry and burned them. Bulldozers later filled the quarry with dirt. Two houses were blasted over bodies that were not removed. For most dead, the quarry remains their resting place.(98)
The death toll from the massacre most likely fell between 110 and 140. That range represents a growing consensus among researchers, derived from villager and contemporary eyewitness testimony.(99) The 254 figure commonly cited comes from a post-battle press statement by Irgun commander Raanan. Describing the slaughter as a successful battle, he exaggerated the toll. As he later explained, "I told the reporters that 254 were killed so that a big figure would be published, and so that Arabs would panic ... across the country."(100) Shimon Monita, in 1948 a Haganah infiltrator of the Jerusalem Lehi, has perhaps best explained the odd congruence of divergent political interests that originally propelled that figure into ready conventional acceptance:
Everyone was comfortable with the high number. The dissidents were interested in boasting and scaring the Arabs; the Haganah and the Jewish Agency were interested in making dissidents look bad and scaring the Arabs; the Arabs were interested in making the Jews look bad; the British were interested in making the Jewish terrorists look bad. Everyone grasped at the number that Raanan had made up.(101)
About two-thirds of those killed were women, children, and men over 60, most executed by gunfire, along with grenades and knives. The casualty figures confirm deliberate massacre as they are profoundly atypical for combat-incident deaths; in the Vietnam War's heavier firepower assaults amidst flimsier dwellings, just 20 civilian deaths in a comparably sized village was considered abnormally high, warranting special investigation. The low number of Deir Yassin villager wounded (50-70) compared to the number killed (110-140), the reverse of ground combat's normal ratios, is also a noted trait of systematic killing.(102) Such anomalies, coupled with the copious and authoritative testimony, put to rest any serious questioning of whether there was or was not a massacre at Deir Yassin.
Although massacre of civilians was not the main or original purpose of the Deir Yassin operation, the atrocities did not result purely from "heat of battle." Massacre was discussed in advance, not restrained when it erupted, and later pursued with organized deliberation, impunity, and brutality. The cause of the massacre and brutality can be analyzed by separating events into three operative mental states: 1) "hot blood," 2) "warm blood," and 3) "cold blood." The hot blood mental state occurred during the morning fighting on 9 April. During this phase, angry, frightened, untrained, pinned down, poorly directed, and ambiguously instructed teens fell murderously upon Arabs within their control.
The warm blood mental state (a description used by eyewitness Meir Pa'il) occurred after serious resistance ended between 11:00 A.M. and noon, when combat memory was still fresh.(103) During this warm blood phase, revenge became paramount. Lethal and brutal punishment was inflicted on the subdued villagers for the deadly, humiliating, and injurious resistance, which included sniping, men disguised as women, and possibly feigned surrender. Considerations of prior Arab victories, threats, and atrocities, the stresses of the West Jerusalem siege, as well as past or imputed general hostility from Deir Yassin probably added to this. Additionally, the resistance had shown up the revisionists as ineffective fighters in front of the rival Haganah and Palmach.
The cold blood aspect bracketed the incident, being dominant in the preattack planning stages, somewhat eclipsed by the combat tensions, then reemerging in the later stages of organized executions (e.g., the quarry firing squad and Sunday cleanup). For the cold blood mental state, more enduring factors must explain the prior proposal and subsequent carrying out of executions and violence against the helpless. One such factor was that mutual Arab-Jewish war passions had reached exterminationist sentiments. Arab rhetoric spoke of throwing Jews into the sea.(104) Reciprocally, "in those days' terms," declared a Deir Yassin veteran, "a good Arab was a dead Arab."(105) The guerrilla organizations further elevated anti-Arab hostility from wartime prejudice to ideology. "The Islamic soul," Revisionist Zionist founder Vladimir Jabotinsky declared about the Palestine Arabs' dominant religion, "must be broomed out of [the Land of] Israel."(106) Lehi founder Avraham Stern pronounced Arabs "a mole that grew out of the eternal desert ... nothing but murderers."(107)
Another organizational ethos, deliberate terror, undoubtedly constituted a principal factor in the massacre. The Irgun's self-admitted operational tactics were "terror, bombs, [and] assassination."(108) Bus stops and public places were recurrent targets, and captives were sometimes executed and publicly abused. A popular slogan of Revisionist Zionists ran, "By blood and fire Judea fell/by blood and fire Judea shall rise."(109)
Broader questions about the Deir Yassin incident can also be addressed. The weight of the available evidence is that neither the attack nor massacre was initiated by official Labor Zionist leadership, local or central, though reluctant authorization for an attack was given by the local commander. The Jewish Agency in Tel Aviv was taken by surprise and ultimately issued a public condemnation. The attack planning also strongly suggests that the Jerusalem Revisionist Zionist organizations, and not their central commands, initiated the attack and massacre. Final British departure from Palestine over the weeks following Deir Yassin prevented any criminal prosecution or inquest beyond an initial police investigation. Further conclusions about Deir Yassin would benefit from declassification of the British C.I.D. report, the release of Meir Pa'il's photographs and report by the Israel Defense Forces Archives, and greater candor from Deir Yassin veterans and villagers.(110)
The effect of the Deir Yassin incident was profound. A large retaliatory massacre took place on 13 April 1948, when as many as 70 or more Jewish medical personnel were killed in a merciless Arab ambush of a convoy to Mt. Scopus near Jerusalem. Panic flight of Arabs from across Palestine also began to increase dramatically. "The news of [Deir Yassin] precipitated a flight of the Arab populations [in Palestine] from areas with large Jewish populations," the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress had concluded.(111) Meanwhile, the subsequent May 1948 outbreak of regional war between the newly declared state of Israel and the Arab states, beginning the prolonged Arab-Israeli conflict, was contemporaneously explained by Arab League chief Azzam Pasha in terms of the Deir Yassin incident: "The massacre of Deir Yassin was to a great extent the cause of the wrath of the Arab nations and the most important factor for sending [in] the Arab armies."(112)
Further, the massacre has an importance beyond the regional conflict in which it occurred, as it contained patterns common to other notable wartime killings of civilians and prisoners. The U.S. Army's Peers Commission investigation of the 1968 Vietnam war My Lai massacre found among the causative factors in that incident the presence of inexperienced and poorly trained forces, acute anger over casualties the unit had suffered, a desire to revenge past harm, a heightened military situation, ambiguous instructions from commanders, and racist disdain toward the victims. These factors were present at Deir Yassin, as well as at such other atrocities as the 1864 Sand Creek, Colorado, massacre of Cheyenne Indians by U.S. federal militia and the Wounded Knee, South Dakota, massacre of Sioux Indians by the U.S. Army in 1890. With closer and perhaps more quantitative study, it may be possible for military authorities to prevent such excesses through a "profiling" of the situational factors likely to provoke an atrocity. At the least, identification of such circumstances along with certain characteristic quantitative factors like anomalous casualty numbers and ratios may aid in investigating and reconstructing war crimes where they have occurred.(113)
Still, the regional importance alone of Deir Yassin was profound. The massacre still haunts the Middle East. Though not the first nor largest massacre there or elsewhere, its timing, scope, and historic long-term consequences have made Deir Yassin, in the words of philosopher Martin Buber, "infamous throughout the Jewish world, the Arab world, and the whole world."(114) Today there exists an international memorial organization, Deir Yassin Remembered, based in Geneva, New York. Revisiting the event thoroughly ought then to help the Jewish and Arab worlds come to greater understanding. Additionally, reconstructing such incidents to better understand their unfolding may help peoples everywhere to avert or prosecute other tragedies of this type.
(1) Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis (New York, 1998), 25.
(2) See BBC, The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs, 15 March 1998 (documentary); Yitzhaq Ben-Ami, Years of Wrath, Days of Glory (New York, 1983), 216; Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem! (New York, 1972), 281; Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel (New York, 1987), 94-96; Frank Gervasi, The Life and Times of Menahem Begin (New York, 1979), 230-35; Morton Klein, "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie," monograph (New York, 1998); Arthur Koestler, Promise and Fulfilment: Palestine 1917-1949 (New York, 1949), 160; Daniel McGowan and Marc Ellis, eds., Remembering Deir Yassin (New York, 1998); Uri Milstein, "Deir Yassin," Ha'aretz, 30 August 1968; Yehoshua Ophir, Al Hachomot [On the Walls] (Tel Aviv, 1951), 49; Amos Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin (New York, 1987), 217; Dana Adams Schmidt, Armageddon in the Middle East (New York, 1974), 4-5; David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (New York, 1986), 38; Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, 25.
(3) Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 21-29; Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (Cambridge, 1987), 4-28; Howard Sachar, A History of Jerusalem: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York, 1996).
(4) Netanel Lorch, Edge of the Sword (New York, 1961), 75-84; Morris, The Birth of the Palastine Problem, 4-28, Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel (New York, 1987), 75-76.
(5) Lorch, Edge of the Sword, 75-84; Daniel McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," in Remembering Deir Yassin, 38.
(6) Lorch, Edge of the Sword, 67-75; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 233-41.
(7) Diary of Jacques De Reynier, 27 March 1948, quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 238.
(8) Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 245ff.; Lorch, Edge of the Sword, 89-92.
(9) Eric Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet (New York, 1984), 90; Milstein, The War of Independence, vol. 4, Out of Crisis Comes Decision (Tel Aviv, 1991), 255; Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, "Deir Yassin," box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers, Larry Collins Papers, Special Collections Unit, Georgetown University Library (n.d., unpublished Deir Yassin village research and survivor interview summary); Sharif Kanani and Nihad Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project (Bir Zeit, 1987), 8; McGowan and Ellis, ed., Remembering Deir Yassin, 68.
(10) Levi, Nine Measures (Tel Aviv, 1986), 340; Meir Pa'il and Ami Issseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account" (1998), available at PEACE Middle East Dialogue Group, World Wide Web at www.ariga.com/peacewatch/dy; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 256-57.
(11) Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 50; Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 257; "Conquest of Deir Yassin," Yitzhak Levi (1948 Jerusalem Haganah intelligence chief) file, quoted in Levi, Nine Measures, 343.
(12) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 257.
(13) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Meir Pa'il and Ami Issseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; BBC, "The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs."
(14) David Shaltiel, Jerusalem 1948 (Tel-Aviv, 1981), 139-43 (Israeli Defense Ministry publication), quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 91.
(15) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Levi, Nine Measures, 341.
(16) Statement of Yehuda Lapidot [Irgun], file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, Tel Aviv, quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 90.
(17) Statement of Ben-Zion Cohen, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 90.
(18) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 258; Yisrael Segal, "The Deir Yassin File," Koteret Rashit, 19 January 1983.
(19) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 259-60.
(20) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War (New York, 1970), 139; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 273; Yehuda Lapidot, interview transcription (n.d.), Collins and Lapierre, box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers; McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 37; David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (New York, 1986), 38.
(21) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 38.
(22) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 262.
(23) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 273; Kurzman, Genesis 1948, 143; Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 53.
(24) Levi, Nine Measures, 343; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Harry Levin, Jerusalem Embattled (New York, 1950), 59; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 263.
(25) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 36; "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre," ArabicNews.Com, 10 April 1998 (internet site www.arabicnews.com, 10 April 1998, interviews by Elias Zananiri, not attributed); Levi, Nine Measures, 342; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 263.
(26) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 262-65; Levi, Nine Measures, 342-44; Milstein, "Deir Yassin."
(27) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Meir Pa'il and Ami Issseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 93.
(28) Statement of Yehoshua Gorodentchik, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 93.
(29) Statement of Ben-Zion Cohen, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Yisrael Segal, "The Deir Yassin File," Koteret Rashit, 19 January 1983.
(30) Levi, Nine Measures, 343; Meir Pa'il and Ami Issseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Milstein, "Deir Yassin."
(31) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Ralph G. Martin, Golda: Golda Meir--The Romantic Years (New York, 1988), 329; "Interviews: Fiftieth Aniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre."
(32) Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 55.
(33) Ibid., 53-54; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 94; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 275.
(34) Pat McDonnell Twair, "The Surviving Children of Deir Yassin," in Remembering Deir Yassin, 51; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 275-76; Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 274.
(35) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 265-66; Levi, Nine Measures, 344.
(36) Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 584; Levi, Nine Measures, 344; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 265-66; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(37) Irgun communique, 11 April 1948, quoted in In the Underground, vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1977), 274.
(38) Lorch, Edge of the Sword, 450; Levin, Jerusalem Embattled, 59; Levi, Nine Measures, 343.
(39) J. Bowyer-Bell, Terror Out of Zion: Irgun Zvai Leumi, LEHI, and the Palestine Underground, 1929-1949 (New York, 1979), 371; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 275; Kurzman, Genesis: 1948, 145-46; Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 265; Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe (London, 1987), 51; Amos Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, 214; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 92.
(40) McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 38.
(41) Letter of de Reynier, International Committee of the Red Cross, Jerusalem, to International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 13 April 1948, Archives of the International Red Cross (AICRC.G3/83); Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 278-80; Jacques de Reynier, Un Drapeau Flottait Sur La Ligne de Feu (Geneva, 1950), 72ff; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 269, 271, 274; Yehoshua Arieli to author, 14 November 1999.
(42) Eliyahu Arbel, "I was the Haganah Officer Who Inspected Deir Yassin on the Day Following the Operation," Yediot Ahronot, 2 May 1972.
(43) Menachem Adler, interview transcript by Collins and Lapierre, box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers.
(44) Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 53-54; David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (New York, 1986), 41; Milstein, "Deir Yassin"; Jamil Ahmed interview, Gardner Films, Inc., and WETA-TV, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (video, 1989); "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre"; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account," quoted in Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, 50.
(45) Statement of Ben-Zion Cohen, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, 216.
(46) Yediot Ahronot, 9 April 1972.
(47) Al Urdun, 9 April 1953, quoted in Israel Office of Information, Israel's Struggle for Peace (New York, 1960), 41-42; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 276.
(48) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(49) Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 94; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(50) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 273; Diary of Jacques de Reynier, 11 April 1948, trans. Collins and Lapierre, box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers.
(51) Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 94.
(52) Statement of Mohammed Jaber, dossier 179/110/17 GS, "Secret," Police Investigator Team reports dated 13, 15, and 16 April 1948, forwarded to Sir Henry Gurney, chief secretary, Palestine Government, by Richard C. Catling, assistant inspector general of the Criminal Investigation Division, quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 275-76.
(53) Ibid.; Pat McDonnell Twair, "The Surviving Children of Deir Yassin," in Remembering Deir Yassin, 51.
(54) Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 56.
(55) McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 40.
(56) Statement of Yehoshua Gorodentchik, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 93.
(57) Kurzman, Genesis 1948, 148.
(58) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre."
(59) McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 40; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(60) Pail and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account;" Dawn [Karachi], 11 April 1998 (Guardian News Service).
(61) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 267.
(62) Statement of Yehuda Marinburg, file 1/10 4-K, Jabotinsky Archives, quoted in Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, 52.
(63) Yisrael Segal, "The Deir Yassin File," Koteret Rashit, 19 January 1983.
(64) McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 37.
(65) Ibid., 43-44; Letter of de Reynier, International Committee of the Red Cross, Jerusalem, to International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 13 April 1948; Diary of Jacques de Reynier, 11 April 1948, trans. Collins and Lapierre, box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers; McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 39, 43-44.
(66) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(67) Quoted in Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 56.
(68) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 267.
(69) Levin, Jerusalem Embattled, 57.
(70) Collins and Lapierre, "Deir Yassin"; Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 54; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 276; Fuzziah Ahmed interview, Gardner Films, Inc., and WETA-TV, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land; "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre."
(71) Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 53.
(72) Report of 15 April 1948, dossier 179/110/17 GS, "Secret" quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 276; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 267.
(73) Kati Marton, A Death in Jerusalem (New York, 1994), 29.
(74) Report of 15 April 1948, quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 276.
(75) BBC, The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs; Morton Klein, "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie," 18-19, 22-24; Press release, Zionist Organization of America, "Arab Eyewitnesses Now Admit: We Fabricated Claims Concerning 1948 Deir Yassin `Massacre,'" 20 March 1998.
(76) Peter Finn, "Signs of Rape Scar Kosovo: Families' Shame Could Hinder Investigation," Washington Post Foreign Service, 27 June 1999; CNN/Time, Newsstand with Jeff Greenfield, 23 May 1999 (broadcast segment on human rights workers in the field and the cultural difficulties of sexual assault investigation in postwar Kosovo).
(77) BBC, The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs; "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre."
(78) Quoted in Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 95.
(79) Statement of Safiyeh Attiyeh, dossier 179/110/17 GS, "Secret," quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 275, 276.
(80) Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 276.
(81) Badil Resource Center and Leone Films and Video, Jerusalem 1948: Yoom Ilak, Yoom Aleik, (video, 1998).
(82) Report of 15 April 1948, quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 276.
(83) Calvin Sims, "3 Dead Marines and a Secret of Wartime Okinawa," New York Times, 1 June 2000, A12; Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (Cambridge, 1987), 222-23, 230; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 364; Guy Ehrlich, "Not Only Deir Yassin," Ha'ir, 6 May 1992; Flapan, The Birth of Israel, 112; Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, 72.
(84) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(85) Quoted in Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! (New York, 1972), 280.
(86) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 267-68.
(87) Ibid., 268; Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War, 147.
(88) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; McGowan, "A Jewish Eyewitness: An Interview with Meir Pa'il," 44.
(89) Twair, "The Surviving Children of Deir Yassin," 51; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 267-68; Jacques de Reynier, Un Drapeau Flottait Sur La Ligne de Feu, 74.
(90) Eliyahu Arbel, "I Was The Haganah Officer Who Inspected Deir Yassin The Day Following the Operation."
(91) Letter of de Reynier, International Committee of the Red Cross, Jerusalem, to International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 13 April 1948; Jacques DeReynier Interview, (n.d.) Larry Collins Papers, Box 3, O Jerusalem! Papers; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 269.
(92) Jacques de Reynier, Un Drapeau Flottait Sur La Ligne de Feu, 74.
(93) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 279.
(95) Letter of de Reynier, International Committee of the Red Cross, Jerusalem, to International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 13 April 1948; Diary of Jacques de Reynier, 11 April 1948.
(96) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 273; Milstein, "Deir Yassin."
(97) Nahum Barnea, "Deir Yassin, We Have Returned to You A Second Time," Davar, 9 April 1982.
(98) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 273; Ibid.; "Interviews: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Deir Yassin Massacre."
(99) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 274; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 96; Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 56ff; Badil Resource Center and Leone Films and Video, Jerusalem 1948: Yoom Ilak, Yoom Aleik; Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 274; Yehoshua Arieli to author, 14 November 1999.
(100) Quoted in Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 269.
(101) Milstein, Out of Crisis Comes Decision, 274..
(102) Kanani and Zitawi, "Deir Yassin, Monograph No. 4," 56-60; Seymour Hersh, Cover Up (New York, 1973), 131; History Channel, "Quantrill's Raiders," In Search of History, 22 March 1999
(103) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account."
(104) Ehrlich, "Not Only Deir Yassin," Ha'ir, 6 May 1992; Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 55, 116, 309.
(105) Barnea, "Deir Yassin, We Have Returned to You A Second Time," Davar, 9 April 1982.
(106) Y. Shavit, "The Attitude of Zionist Revisionism Towards Arabs," in Zionism and the Arab Question, ed. S. Ettinger (Tel Aviv, 1979), 74, quoted in Perlmutter, The Life and Times of Menachem Begin, 212.
(107) Yoseph Heller, "Between Messianism and Realpolitik: The Stern Gang and the Arab Question," in Yahadut Zemanenu, vol. 1 (1983), 225, quoted in Perlmutter, The Life And Times of Menachem Begin, 212.
(108) Dana Adams Schmidt, Armageddon in the Middle East, 5.
(109) Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem! 116-17; Bowyer-Bell, Terror Out of Zion, 1; Silver, Begin: The Haunted Prophet, 11.
(110) Pa'il and Isseroff, "Meir Pa'il's Eyewitness Account"; Levin, Jerusalem Embattled, 57-59.
(111) Helen Chapin Metz, ed., Israel: A Country Study (Washington, D.C., 1991), 51.
(112) Sharq al-Adna (Arabic Radio), 20 May 1948, 11:00 A.M., Foreign Broadcast Information Branch, Central Intelligence Agency, Daily Report, Foreign Radio Broadcasts, 21 May 1948, European Section, Near and Middle East-North African Transmitters, II 3.
(113) William R. Peers, My Lai Inquiry (New York, 1979); Duane Schultz, Month of the Freeezing Moon (New York, 1990); Rex Alan Smith, Moon of Popping Trees (Omaha, 1981); James Weingartner, "War Against Subhumans," Historian 58, no. 3 (1996): 557-73.
(114) Letter of Buber, Simon, Senator, Roth to David Ben-Gurion, Israel State Archives, Pmo 5559/Gimel, quoted in Segev, 1949: The First Israelis, 88.
Matthew Hogan is an independent scholar in Texas and the Middle East.
Click here to see Deir Yassin Remembered's recent op-ed in the New York Times.
NEW on the main DYR web site: "Semitic Blood Feud" by Gregory M. DeSylva