Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On Deir Yassin by a Hagana Veteran Who Was There

At the Hagana Archives in Tel Aviv, I met Shraga Peled and in talking, he mentioned to me that he was a bit of an outsider in that in his memoirs, he expressed sympathy for the Irgun's Deir Yassin operation.

I asked him about it and he showed me the book, "Stories from the Archives", published in 2006 by a company called Kavim.

Here's the frontispiece:

The two pages dealing with Deir Yassin follow below:

For those who cannot read Hebrew, I will summarize:

He notes that both Irgun and Hagana sources mention that a unit of the Palmach participated in the battle, each one telling his own version and here is his. He served in the Shai,, or Intelligence Unit and was a photographer with two cameras, a Leica and a Minoc, a spy's camera. I went out to Deir Yassin when the bodies were still warm. I snapped a few pictures of some not-very-nice scenes. Also one at the stonequarry where bodies lay. Since he wasn't in the village at the time of the action, he can't relate exactly what happened but he doesn't think any persons were concentrated there to be shot after the battle. The quarrey was a bit outside the village and people fled to it. There was a tree at the entrance and it was buring and an Arab was tied to it and he was told it was the work of the Irgun. The pictures, he was told, are some place in a restricted file.

At the end of the battle, the Irgun arranged a victory procession through town with old people up on trucks driving down Ben-Yehuda Street. He didn't feel comfortable with that but in war, as it war and he forgives the Irgun all.

The Irgun history asserts that at the end of the fighting was over, in addition to hundreds of villagers who had retreated to Ein Karem via the path left purposefully open, downes had surrendered and they were taken prisoner. The prisoners, mostly women and children, were loaded onto trucks and taken to East Jerusalem, where they were handed over to their Arab brethren at the Damascus Gate area.


...there was bitter fighting at Deir Yassin. More than 100 Arab fighters were well equipped and had large amounts of ammunition. The Arabs occupied fortified positions in stone buildings, while the attackers were exposed to enemy fire. The fierce gunfire directed from the houses forced the attackers to charge, throw grenades and, in several cases, to blow up houses. As a consequence, women and children were among the dead.

According to all the documents and testimonies, it is clear today that fewer than one hundred Arabs were killed at Deir Yassin, and not the 240 as published. Moreover, this was the first instance in the War of Independence where battle had taken place in a built-up area, and such fighting typically claims numerous victims. For the same reason, the number of Irgun and Lehi members injured by Arab fire was 35% of the force (5 dead and 35 wounded).



Anonymous said...

So that's all right then.
I guess Lidice was a war thing too.

Sérgio said...

Oh, yeah. Was there a fierce battle going on in Lidice? No. Was that episode yet another typical act of nazi criminality, this time to celebrate the death of that exemplary pure-breed German aryan, Reihard Heydrich, that one that coordinated the final solution? Yes.

So, your "analogy" is more anal that logical and just served to display your perverted moral inversion and mendacity.

Anonymous said...

comparison with lidice is logically impossible. now, you are going to have to come up with something better than libel. i mean deir yassin is your lynchpin isn't it?

muebles said...

Oh my god, there is a great deal of worthwhile data above!

tokugawa said...

From Wikipedia:

Jacques de Reynier, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Palestine, and his assistant Dr. Alfred Engel, visited Deir Yassin on April 11. In his personal memoirs, published in 1950, Reynier wrote: "a total of more than 200 dead, men, women, and children. About 150 cadavers have not been preserved inside the village in view of the danger represented by the bodies' decomposition. They have been gathered, transported some distance, and placed in a large trough (I have not been able to establish if this is a pit, a grain silo, or a large natural excavation). ... [One body was] a woman who must have been eight months pregnant, hit in the stomach, with powder burns on her dress indicating she'd been shot point-blank."[42]

He wrote that he had encountered a "cleaning-up team" when he arrived the village.
The gang [the Irgun detachment] was wearing country uniforms with helmets. All of them were young, some even adolescents, men and women, armed to the teeth: revolvers, machine-guns, hand grenades, and also cutlasses in their hands, most of them still blood-stained. A beautiful young girl, with criminal eyes, showed me hers still dripping with blood; she displayed it like a trophy. This was the "cleaning up" team, that was obviously performing its task very conscientiously.

I tried to go into a house. A dozen soldiers surrounded me, their machine-guns aimed at my body, and their officer forbade me to move ... I then flew into one of the most towering rages of my life, telling these criminals what I thought of their conduct, threatening them with everything I could think of, and then pushed them aside and went into the house
...I found some bodies, cold. Here the "cleaning up" had been done with machine-guns, then hand grenades. It had been finished off with knives, anyone could see that ... as I was about to leave, I heard something like a sigh. I looked everywhere, turned over all the bodies, and eventually found a little foot, still warm. It was a little girl of ten, mutilated by a hand grenade, but still alive ...[42]

After his inspection, the Irgun asked him to sign a document to say he had been received courteously and thanking them for their help. When he refused, they told him he would sign it if he valued his life. "The only course open to me was to convince them that I did not value my life in the least," he wrote.[42]

Menachem Begin hailed the taking of Deir Yassin as a “splendid act of conquest" that would serve as a model for the future: in a note to his commanders he wrote: 'Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue thus until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.'[6

tokugawa said...

Einstein and over 20 other Jewish intellectuals condemn Deir Yassin massacre. The Irgun, which Menachem Begin led, is called a terrorist organization.

December 4, 1948


Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin's behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin's party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants: 240 men, women, and children - and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.


New York, Dec. 2, 1948