Aug 31, 2011

Deir Yassin: Inconvenient History


First Published in

Inconvenient History 

Deir Yassin: Inconvenient History



 By Daniel McGowan1



The Massacre



There are many different accounts and interpretations of what happened on 9 April 1948 at Deir Yassin, a small village on the west side of Jerusalem. For ardent Zionists it was a battle at the beginning of Israel's War for Independence. For most historians (privately, in opinions they can no longer express without unacceptable professional consequences) it was a massacre of Arabs committed by dissident Jewish factions of the Irgun and the Stern Gang. For Palestinians it was the beginning of the Nakba or The Catastrophe, when they were stripped of 78 percent of historical Palestine.2


Despite these different interpretations, almost all will agree on the following:


Deir Yassin was a village populated by about 750 Arabs located 3 km west of Jerusalem near the top of a hill accessible only by one road coming from the east.


With about 120 men, the Jewish terrorist gangs known as The Irgun and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin at 4 a.m. on 9 April 1948 in their first joint 'military operation'.


Alerted by guards, the villagers from within their stone homes and with few weapons (including two machine guns) were able to kill four of the terrorists and wound thirty-six, bringing the attack to a standstill by late morning.


The gangs then sought the help of soldiers from the Palmach, the elite fighters of the Haganah, or the main Jewish military force. These seventeen professional soldiers, using a 52-mm mortar, conquered the village within an hour.


After the Palmach soldiers had left, the gangs went from house to house killing women, children, and old men.


They paraded some of the Palestinian men through the streets of Jerusalem and then brought them back to the stone quarry on the south side of Deir Yassin. There they shot them all to death.


The Irgun and the Stern Gang then herded the villagers who were unable to flee (down the mountain to the southwest toward Ein Karem) into the school and threatened to blow up the building with all the people inside.



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