The first major massacre in the 1948 War was the massacre of Deir Yassin on April 9110, 1948. It was designed to spread terror and panic among the Palestinian population in every city and village of Palestine in order to frighten them into fleeing, so that their homes and land could be confiscated for the use of Jewish colonialist settlers. The tactics of the Zionist Jews were to frighten defenseless people into fleeing their homes out of fear for their lives.
Two hundred and fifty people were slaughtered. Mutilating the bodies, even before death, the culprits cut off parts and opened the bellies of others. Nursing babies were butchered on the bosoms of helpless mothers.
Of those two hundred and fifty people, twenty-five pregnant women were bayoneted in their abdomens while still alive. Fifty-two children were maimed under the eyes of their own mothers, and then they were slain and their heads cut off. Their mothers were in turn massacred and their bodies mutilated. About sixty other women and girls were also killed and their bodies mutilated. Such are the historical facts concerning the horrible crime perpetrated against the Arab village of Deir Yassin.
On the night of April 9/10, 1948, the peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin, a suburb of Jerusalem, was surprised by loudspeakers calling upon the inhabitants to evacuate the village immediately. The villagers woke up and, in a state of turmoil and fear, proceeded to investigate what was going on, only to find themselves surrounded on all sides by Jewish gangs. The Jews made use of the prevailing state of fright and disorganization by killing and mutilating people who had been deprived of every opportunity to defend themselves.
The marauders were not satisfied with the crimes they had committed in the village. They gathered together the women and girls who were still alive, and after removing all their clothes, put them in open cars, driving them naked through the streets of the Jewish section of Jerusalem, where they were subjected to the mockery and insult of the onlookers. Many took photographs of those women.
The crime of Deir Yassin shocked the world, which called upon the International Red Cross Society to establish the truth. The representative of the Red Cross, Mr. Jacques Reynier, asked the Jewish Agency for permission to visit the site of the massacre. The granting of this permission was delayed twenty four hours while the Jews tried to erase the traces of their crimes. They gathered together all that was possible to collect of the parts of the mutilated bodies of their victims, dumped them in the cistern of the village and locked it up. They did all they could to obliterate any traces that the representative of the Red Cross could come across. On visiting the site of the crime, however, the representative of the Red Cross discovered the cistern, and found one hundred and fifty maimed bodies of women andchildren. He couldexpress his horror, disgust and fright at the sight only by declaring that “the situation was horrible.”
In addition to the bodies that he had found in the cistern, the representative of the Red Cross discovered many other corpses scattered throughout the backstreets of the village and buried under the debris of the destroyed homes. Mr. Reynier found under a mound of dead bodies a girl of six who had been seriously wounded, but was not yet dead. He extracted the girl from under the human debris and carried her with him to the hospital.
All the Jewish Agency (the body responsible at that time for the activities of the Jewish gangs) did was to express its sorrow and condemn the affair as if it had been completely unaware of it.
David Shaltiel, Commander of the Haganah, released a communique about Deir Yassin on April 10, in which he stated:
This morning, the last Lehi and Etzel soldiers ran from Deir Yassin, and our forces entered the village. We were forced to take command of the village after the splinter forces (Irgunists and Stemists) opened a new enemy front and then fled, leaving the western neighborhoods of the city open to enemy attack.
The splinter groups did not launch a military operation … They could have attacked enemy gangs in the Jerusalem area and lightened the burden which Jerusalem bears. But they chose one of the quiet villages in the area that has not been connected with any of the gang attacks since the start of the present campaign; one of the few villages that has not let foreign gangs in.
For a full day, Etzel and Lehi soldiers stood and slaughtered men, women and children, not in the course of the operation, but in a premeditated act which had as its intention slaughter and murder only. They also took spoils, and when they finished their work, they fled ….(6)
The communique denied Irgun and Sternist claims that a Palmach force had participated in the attack. Enraged by this declaration, Raanan and Zetler released the text of the letter Shaltiel had sent them guardedly approving the attack in advance. Israel Galili, the Haganah commander, then asked Shaltiel about this letter, which Tel Aviv had never sanctioned. Shaltiel cabled back on April 15:
I learned they were preparing action against Deir Yassin. As I didn’t want to meet them I sent a letter. I would stop to the extent possible future operations of dissidents.(7)
Two days after this maneuver of the Jewish Agency, the newspaper Hamashekev, the organ of the Irgun, replying to the Jewish Agency’s condemnation of the Deir Yassin massacre, published the fact that the Commander of the Haganah (the organized forces of the Jewish Agency) had been fully aware in advance of the details of the plan and had already contemplated the occupation of Deir Yassin by the Irgun terrorists. Meanwhile, Menahem Begin, the leader of the Irgun gang, himself admitted on December 28, 1950, in a press interview in New York, that the Deir Yassin incident had been carried out in accordance with an agreement between the Irgun and the Jewish Agency and the Haganah.
Four criminals who had taken part in the Deir Yassin massacre and had been badly injured demanded remuneration from the Jewish authorities in occupied Palestine on the basis of a government decision to compensate all persons who suffered injuries during the fighting in Palestine. The authorities refused the request on the grounds that the Deir Yassin incident had not been perpetrated on orders from responsible Jewish authorities. The four culprits raised an action before the District Court at Tel-Aviv. They produced evidence that the Deir Yassin massacre had been carried out on the orders of the Jewish Agency, and in agreement with the Haganah. The District Court considered the evidence produced to be genuine and irrefutable and ruled that the plaintiffs should be compensated by the state.
By the criteriaestablished in the International War Crimes Tribunals after World War 11, the Irgun and Stern gang members directly responsible for the Deir Yassin massacre would receive death sentences for committing such an atrocity. The leaders of both gangs, including Menachem Begin of the Irgun and Yitzhak Shamir of the Stern Gang, would have been convicted with a death sentence for their Command Responsibility for the massacre. Moreover, the senior commanders of the Haganah, especially Chief of Staff Yaacov Dori and Commander David Shaltiel, and the political authority responsible for the discipline of the Jewish armed units, the Jewish Agency leaders and its head David Ben-Gurion, would have borne ultimate responsibility and would have been hung like their Nazi political counterparts after World War II.