It might be argued that Shavit overstates Zionism's overlooking of the indigenous Arab population, while understating the extent to which Zionists were forced to take up arms because segments of the Arab population responded to gestures of goodwill and cooperation with violence.
...he narrates the forced exodus in July 1948, after Arab governments ignored the U.N. call for a truce, of tens of thousands of Arabs by Israeli soldiers from the strategically important town of Lydda near Israel's primary airport
Is that right?
From David Gerstman:
...the story of Lydda (now called Lod) is not so simple. The residents of Lydda were not summarily expelled. The expulsion was a response to a massacre of Israeli soldiers, after the town had agreed to terms of surrender.
Maurice Ostroff interviewed a soldier who fought in that battle:
Mike Isaacson, who now lives in Pretoria, South Africa, served as a Mahal volunteer in Dayan’s battalion. This is how he described his experience to me:
“On July 10 when the battalion attacked Lydda, the Arab leadership surrendered. Lydda’s leaders were told they could continue to live in peace, provided they surrendered their arms and accepted Israeli sovereignty. They agreed. “Leaving only a few soldiers as guards, the battalion left Lydda to return to Ben Shemen. However, when two Arab Legion armored cars appeared on the horizon the next day, giving the impression that Legion reinforcements were arriving, the Lydda Arabs reneged on their agreement. They didn’t give the Israeli soldiers in the town the choice of being expelled. They slaughtered them. “In the meantime, the battalion was surprised to find itself in Ramle sooner than intended. Instead of taking the road to Ben Shemen, the leading vehicle, driven by Jimmy Kantey, had in error turned towards Ramle at the crossroad…. “As a consequence of the massacre of the Israeli soldiers, the troops on returning to Lydda could not accept a fifth column in their midst and forced thousands of families out of the towns during the next three days.
...Alex Safian of CAMERA adds some more details.
Despite the surrender agreement, and the promise to turn over arms, the Israelis, now numbering only 500 men, had to once again take the town in another desperate battle.
Fighting house-to-house to root out snipers, and this time giving no quarter, within an hour much of the town was once again under control, and an estimated 200 Arabs were dead.
But the Dahmash Mosque, was still fighting, held by an estimated 70 fighters, and with an unknown number of others inside. Rather than launch a costly frontal assault, Lt. Col. Kelman decided to breach the mosque’s walls with an anti-tank weapon, known as a PIAT, and then have a platoon rush the building.
After the PIAT was fired, the men that stormed the building found that the defenders were dead, killed by the effects of the armor piercing projectile in the confined space of the mosque. (Kurzman, p. 515-516)