Deir Yassin: Uri Milstein’s Account

Deir Yassin

Uri Milstein’s Account

Translated by Ami Isseroff

Presented by the PEACE Middle East Dialog Group


from Uri Milstein ‘The War of Independence Vol. IV: Out of Crisis Came Decision, Zmora – Bitan, Tel-Aviv 1991

Translator’s Introduction Uri Milstein’s history forms much of the basis for the ZOA report denying the Deir Yassin Massacre. However, Milstein himself did not deny the massacre. He simply sought to discredit the left as much as possible, and to place as much blame as possible on the Haganah and Palmach.
Milstein’s account includes many partial quotes, set up as if to prove a certain point. This is particularly evident in the quotes taken from Mordehai Gihon,  which Milstein brings to show that foreign soldiers entered Deir Yassin in March – he neglects to quote later reports showing that they left. Likewise, he leaves out of Gihon’s account a condemnation of the massacre, and a declaration that as far as he (Gihon) knew, the operation was not authorized by the Haganah/Palmach.

Both Milstein and Yitzhak Levi leave out key testimony by Yehoshua Gorodenchik, from the Jabotinsky archives, in which he admits that Irgun troops murdered about 80 prisoners – mostly men- corresponding to accounts of refugees. Milstein and the ZOA account make a big issue out of the body count, but it is in fact impossible to reach an accurate body count.

In the text below, translator’s comments are in curly brackets, in italics. Material from notes  marked with asterisks in the original has been included in rounded brackets and regular type. I have referred also to the ‘ZOA Study’ by Morton Klein, posted at and to Levitza or Yitzhak Levi in these notes. ‘Levitza – Yitzhak Levi’ is Yitzhak Levi, ‘Nine Measures.’   References to Meir Pail are  based on his eyewitness account, as well as an interview with Dan McGowan in McGowan and Ellis eds, Remembering Deir Yassin , Olive Branch Press, Interlink Publishing Group 1998 page 35 ff.

{tr. A. Isseroff}

From Milstein, Vol IV Page 255 ff

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Petachiah Zelivensky, a Tel-Aviv native from a Hebronite family, participated in many Lehi operations and was considered one of the more daring people in that organization.

Yehuda Lapidot was a platoon commander in Etzel in Jerusalem, and one of the three Jerusalem commanders of that organization who had been trained in regular warfare by people who had served in the British Army.

Meir Pail is the man who brought the affair to light in 1948 and who kept it alive for decades. Pail served in the Palmach, completed a squad commander’s course in the Haganah {note by A.I – Pail was deputy commander of Haim Barlev’s mem-kaf course and gave other courses for officers) , participated in ‘Sazon’ and was commander of a unit of the Shai {Haganaj intelligence service} in Jerusalem that acted against the Revisionists {note by A.I. Tthe unit was independent of the Shai and was a special unit under the command of Yehoshuah Gloverman and later David Cohen. The Shai unit was the “internal” division of the Shai, which was the responsibility of Avraham Heuzman – an ultra-orthodox man from Meah Shearim. He was killed in action Jan. 22 in Qastel}. “From the end of 1947 I was responsible for counter-Revisionist operations in Jerusalem, under the direction of the general staff officer in charge of these activities,” Pail testified to the writers of the History of the Hahagana. “I was in charge of a unit of around twenty guys, Palmachnikim and ‘Chish people (infantry) and intelligence personnel in Jerusalem.” {note by A.I. -according to Pail, he was in charge of this unit from the summer of 1947, and the unit stopped operating against the dissidents, on the orders of Globerman, just after the U.N. partition decision, except for one incident). On March 18 Yisrael Galili cabled approval of the suggestion of David Shaltiel, to disband this unit, and to make the personnel part of the military police that he was setting up then, and to make Meir Pail commander of the military police {note by A.I. – According to Pail, Shaliel’s suggestion to make him commander of military police was never taken seriously}. Ten days later Pail asked for a budget from David Cohen (who was at that time responsible for counter-Revisionist actions), “in order to keep the unit functioning.” He did not get the budget, and sent a telegram to Alon {Yigal Alon -A.I.} “The operations unit has been transferred to the district military police. I have nothing to do here. Etzioni wants me to to stay with him. Awaiting your orders.” {Etzioni was apparantly Shaltiel – A.I.}The unit really was disbanded, and Pail had no position when the Etzel and Lehi people attacked Deir Yassin.   He was also left out of the contacts between Shaltiel and the Revisionists.


3. The Target


The commander of the Michmash brigade, Yeshurun Schiff, who was one of the permanent liasons of Sha’aliel with the heads of Etzel and Lehi, proposed to the heads of these organizations to participate with their people in the battles for the Qastel. This was in the beginning of April, before Tabenkin was made commander of the battle sector. The commanders of Etzel and Lehi did not accept his proposal and claimed they did not have enough vehicles and that they want to work independently. Later Schiff recounted: I tried, on my own initiative to enlist the revisionists (in the battle for the Qastel). I talked to the Etzel operations officer (Yehoshua Goldshmidt). He and his friends agreed, provided they would get permission from Tel Aviv, could command their own force, and could get arms from us. I agreed to the first and third conditions. I also spoke to the Lehi people, and they raised the same conditions and said we should attack from Wadi Ein-Karem. The Etzel people wanted Shaltiel to ask them officially. I reported to Shaltiel and he forbade me to meet with them. [** Perhaps because Schiff was not party to the secret negotiations that Zalman Meret was carrying on with Etzel and Lehi].

The commander of the Lechi intelligence unit in Jerusalem, Moshe Barzilai, claimed later that Shaltiel was the first person to speak of conquering Deir Yassin, and tha this was in the beginning of April in his conversations with the Lehi commanders. We met with him during the Qastel battler. He said “If you want to help us and initiate an operation take Deir Yassin.” We had no doubt that he was interested in that operation. We asked for his agreement in writing, because we did not believe him. He said that the Hagana intended to build an airfield between Givat Shaul and Dir Yassin, and that therefore we had to hold the village if we conquered it (26)


In a meeting of IZL and Lehi commanders, Zettler suggested attacking Shuafat (today a suburb of Jerusalem), as revenge for the attack on Atarot on March 25 (see this volume pages 90-92, Section 3), and also to neutralize the Sheikh Jarach neighborhood and {thus}to link Mt Scopus and Newe Yaakov to Jewish Jerusalem ( a few days before this meeting a Lehi patrol had done reconnaissance in the area of Shuafat, and its commander, Shimon Monita, reported its finding not only to Zettler. Monita, whose code name in the Lehi was “Gad”, was “Hasid,” and his code name in the Shai was “Esther” (he was one of the Hagana people planted in Lehi and Etzel. See Vol. I Chapter 6, Section 4, “Spies, Informers and ‘Chasidim.’”) He reported the patrol in Shuafat to his operator, a Hagana man. In 1987 Monita told this author that his operator told him “Tell your guys that in Shuafat there are strong British positions, you have no chance of conquering the village, there would be a massacre there.” Monita did not heed this advice. “I couldn’t tell this to my Lehi commanders without exposing myself, but apparently similar things were told them by higher – ranking people(27). The operations officers of both small organizations told Zettler that they do not have the troops to attack Shuafat, because that village had strong Arab and British positions. Somebody suggested conquering Ein Kerem, and advancing from there in the direction of Gush Etzion.

Yehoshua Goldshmidt, the IZL operations officer had a sentimental motive for attacking Deir Yassin. The neighborhood where he was born, Givat Shaul, bordered on Deir Yassin on the east, and in the events of 1929, when the villagers attacked the neighborhood, his father made him swear in biblical style “Remember what the people of Deir Yassin did to you.”

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Years later Ra’anan gave other reasons. “From the mountains around Hebron and the city of Hebron the Arabs had a logistic axis to the Qastel, through Bethlehem, Beit-Jallah, Ein Kerem and Tzova. Deir Yassin was a forward position that covered this logistic route. We wanted to help the Haganah in the battles for the Qastel. We said, we will conquer Deir Yassin, we will control the Arab logistic route and weaken the pressure from the Qastel. At that time Operation Nachshon started, Deir Yassin controlled the last segment of the road at the entrance to Jerusalem . Conquering the Qastel would not have solved the problem, since the Arabs could block the road near Deir Yassin. Therefore I claim that conquering the village fit into the strategy of the Haganah.” According to Zettler the conquest of Deir Yassin was part of his plan to conquer Western Jerusalem.

Some of the participants in the meeting talked about the goods that would be captured in Deir Yassin, if it were conquered, and claimed that they could serve to fill the warehouses of both organizations.(28) David Siton, a Lehi member, recounted later that he was opposed to the attack on a quiet village. “I said that an operation like that would hurt the Jewish neighborhoods in the western part of the city, but IZL people said that the inhabitants of Deir Yassin were getting ready to attack Jewish neighborhoods. We checked, and found out it was not true. Our chaps entered the village, talked to the Arabs and heard from then that they were not interested in harming the Jews, and that they are men of peace {A.I. – a bit naive!} Zettler heard this and said “There are good Arabs, quiet Arabs.. (29).

From a hill 800 meters above sea level, 700 meters west of Givat Shaul, Deir Yassin had a position that controlled the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the entrance to it and the Motza settlement. In April 1948 there were 1200 people in this village, of which only 500 were its inhabitants, the rest were refugees from Lifta, from Sheikh Baader, from Romema and other neighborhoods.

During the first World War and in October 1928 the inhabitants of Deir Yassin attacked the Jews of Givat Shaul. During all of 1938 they wounded six Jews. In 1929, the villagers of Lifta, Ein Karem and Deir Yassin attacked Beit Hakerem, the Montefiori neighborhood and Givat Shaul. And tried to cut off transport from the lowlands to Jerusalem (30). On the 20th of August 1947 a local peace pact was signed between Deir Yassin and Givat Shaul, on the initiative of the neighbor-relations department of the Jewish Agency. This was after the Higher Arab Council called upon Arabs to carry out terrorist attacks in advance of the U.N. General Assembly discussions (31); And indeed, the inhabitant of Deir Yassin did not attack Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem or in the surrounding Jewish settlements. At the end of December 1947 a listening post of the ‘Arab Shai’ recorded a telephone call, about an Arab unit that would leave Ein Kerem to attack Bayit Vagan in western Jerusalem. The Haganah fighters ambushed this unit, and there was a battle south of Deir Yassin. One Arab was killed and his comrades retreated (from this incident we can learn that the agreement with Deir Yassin did not guarantee security to the Jews in western Jerusalem) {there was no proof of involvement of Deir Yassin in this or any other incident -A.I.}.

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On the fifth of January the Shai reported: The villages of Abu Ghoush, Colonia, Qatel and Deir Yassin ” are absolutely quiet and avoid attacks on Jews”(33). On the 15th of January: “The elders of Deir Yassin made a peace pact with Givat Shaul (34). The (Haganah) Commander in Givat Shaul, Yona ben Sasson, testified that during the entire half year before the war {“war” – this is what it says in Hebrew – not clear when this time period was – A.I.} there was not even one incident between Deir Yassin and the Jews (35).

Ovadia, an agent of the Jerusalem intelligence service (Shai) of the Hagana, who was the Hagana Liaison with Deir Yassin, met frequently with inhabitants of the village and with their Mukhtar, who was a Hagana informant (36); That is how the Shai found out that on March 3 a unit of Abdel Khader El Husseini entered Deir Yassin and intended to attack Givat Shaul. The elders of the village objected, and the unit gave up on the idea (37). On the 23 of March the villagers refused to host Iraqi and Syrian units of the salvation army, despite the order of the Supreme Arab Committee(38). On April 4, when there were battles on the Qastel, Abdel Khader’s Deputy, Kamal Erekat, suggested to the elders of Deir Yassin and Ein Karem that they allow troops to enter their villages to protect them, and the elders of Deir Yassin answered him ” We have peaceful relation, and the entry of foreign troops will break them up. Erikat did not heed their objections and brought troops into Deir Yassin. Years later, the head of the Jerusalem Shai, Yitzhak Levi, referred to half of this incident in his letter to Menachem Begin “Deir Yassin was a quiet village, like Abu Ghoush, and made a pact with us not to give shelter to the gangs. The village withstood heavy pressure from the Arab command, and did not cave in. Five days before the attack on the village Kamal Erikat called the village elders to him and demanded that they take in gangs of fighters. They refused, because they were afraid of us, and trusted the pact we had made with them (39).

Not a few villages that tried to maintain good relations with the Jews (Colonia, Qastel and others) did not withstand the pressure of militants and Arab commanders, and the Shai heard of similar processes in Deir Yassin. Mordechai Gihon, (eventually a general in army intelligence, he was one of the founders of the battle intelligence service and intelligence research in the IDF and a professor of archeology) intelligence agent in sector 2 of the Hagana in Jerusalem, carried out two intelligence raids to Ein Karem and brought out documents that gave evidence of regular connections between Deir Yassin and the bases of volunteers from Syria and Iraq in Ein Karem. Shortly before the attack, Gihon’s observers reported that many armed people were moving between Ein Kerem and Deir Yassin and some of them were dressed in Iraqi uniforms, and that many Arab soldiers were going into Deir Yassin, but only a few were returning to Ein Kerem. Gihon brought these findings to the Commander of Sector 2, Moshe Bar-Nun. According to Gihon’s report he did not meet with Yitzhak Levi, head of the Jerusalem Shai after this, was not briefed by him and Levi did not ask for further details (40).

Several of the Lehi and IZL people who were wounded in the battle for Deir Yassin, sued the Israel Defense Department in 1952, and demanded that they be recognized as handicapped veterans. This is the testimony of Haganah member Arnold Shper in that trial “In February-March 1948 I was a driver attached to the Haggana HQ in Jerusalem… I was in Givat Shaul and its environs… I got an order to drive two Hagana people dressed as Jewish police. I was told that foreign Arabs had been discovered in Deir Yassin. And they mentioned… also Iraqis. The cops I drove were supposed to bring about the expulsion of the foreign Arabs. We did not meet any resistance while on the road. We stopped in front of two buildings at the front of the village. The cops went toward the buildings. When they got to within a hundred meters from them an old man came out of one of the buildings, approached us and started talking with them. I don’t know what they talked about. The we got back in the car and drove toward Givat Shaul. On the way back, shooting started. We got back and the shooting continued. The shooting was from both sides. The Hagana people started to advance toward the two outer buildings in Deir Yassin. We informed them that a British armored car was approaching, so they went back where they started from (41). (In his book, Nine Measures, published in 1986, the head of the Jerusalem Shai, Yitzhak Levi wrote that the claim of the Etzel and Lehi that there were Syrians and Iraqis encamped in Deir Yassin, “had no factual basis to this whatever.”)

On the thirtieth of March Mordehai Gihon reported “One hundred and fify men, mostly Iraqis, entered Deir Yassin. The inhabitants are leaving, for fear of the foreign troops and reprisal operations by the Jews.” (42).

{A.I. – This is only half the story. Here is the same material as related by Yitzhak Levy, head of the Shai, to whom the report was made: “On March 30th there was a report that 150 troops, mostly Iraqi and Syrian, had entered Deir Yassin, and that the villagers were leaving. The Arab command pressured the villagers to agree to the presence of the troops, but gave up in the face of the determined resistance of the inhabitants.” Yitzhak Levi ‘Nine Measures,’ 1986, page 340}

Yizhak Levi passed this information on to the heads of the Shai in Tel Aviv ten days later, and it was distributed to the senior officers of the Hagana on the 9th of April, the day of the attack (43). Five days before, on the 4th of April, there was an article in ‘Davar’ that said: “The western neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Beit Hakerem and Bayit Vagan, we attacked on Sabbath night (April 2) by fire from the direction of Deir Yassi, Ein Kerem and Colonia.” The intelligence office of the Etzioni brigade reported to David Shaltiel on April 4, “There was a meeting in Deir Yassin. Armed men went out on the road to Lower Motza, northwest of Givat Shaul. They are shooting at passing cars.”(44) On the same day Mickey Hapt, deputy commander of the Beit Horon Company reported” “A passenger car from Motza was attacked near the flour mill (beneath Deir Yassin), and it is stuck there. It is under rifle fire. Send an armored with weapons too. There is a danger that the road is cut off.” (45) The Lehi people who went to Abu Ghoush on the same day (April 4) in an armored car, in order to buy weapons from the Arabs, were attacked in the same place at 6 o’clock in the morning. Their commander, David Gottlieb, said that the driver opened the door of the armored car and shot

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in the direction of the fire. Gottlieb believed the people from the village were not villagers but volunteers who had infiltrated into it. The intelligence officer reported this incident to the Haganah commanders in Motza and Qastel.(46) On the same day, at five in the afternoon, Hapt sent a telegram to his commanders in Jerusalem: “In order to prevent an attack on Lower Motza, cutting-off of the road to Jerusalem and capture of the position south of Zova, Deir Yassin should be taken over(47). David Shaaltiel sent a telegram to Shimon Avidan on the morning of April 9, at 2:40 AM (about two hours before the start of the attack):”the Arabs in Deir Yassin have set up a mortar aimed at the road in order to bombard the convoy.”(48) In his book “In the Underground” Menachem Begin wrote that the Etzel had gotten reports of Iraqi and Syrian troops that had entered the village.(49).

“A Stage in Our Plan”


After Zettler and Raanan had decided together to attack Deir Yassin, the representatives of the two organizations met. These were the operations office Yehoshua Gal, Ben-Zion Cohen(who was appointed commander of the Etzel attack force) and platoon commander Yehuda Lapidot from Etzel; operations officer Mordehai Ben-Uzia (“Dror”), Petachia (“Yoed”) Zelivansky (who was appointed commander of the Lehi attack force) and David Shnieveis (“Zamir”) from Lehi. This was their plan: at dawn Lehi would attack the village from the north and Etzel would attack from the East. A third Etzel force would take up positions on the Sharafa ridge (Mt. Herzl) and would block the road of Arab reinforcements that were liable to come from Ein Kerem and Malcha.

The Etzel and Lehi commanders thought the battle would be easy. They gave up the advantage of surprise, and decided to send an armored car with a loud speaker to the outskirts of the town before the attack, to call on the inhabitants to surrender and to tell them that the road to Ein Kerem was open. They believed that both the foreign troops and the inhabitants would run away immediately. Later Yehuda Lapidot said that the Lehi people suggested killing the inhabitants who did not run away, in order to scare the Arabs all over the country and to raise the morale of the Jews in Jerusalem, and that he had his friends, the Etzel commanders, opposed the suggestion of the Lehi people. They said it was a political matter, and that they would bring up the suggestion at their headquarters. Ben-Zion Cohen (an Etzel member) said later that there were differences of opinion also regarding the question of what to do with prisoners, and that most of those present at the meeting said all the men should be killed, and all the old people, women and children who would fight, but that he and Lapidot said that civilians should not be harmed. In the same testimony Cohen siad,:”We could see that the desire for revenge was strong after they had dealt us blows at Gush Etzion (Nebi Daniel convoy, 27-28 March 1948, see above in this volume) and Atarot (Atarot convoy, March 25, 1948, see above, this volume). I believed that if fighting were to break out there, we should not enter houses without throwing grenades or using explosives.” According to him, “it was decided to give strict orders regarding prisoners, to avoid harming them, unless they resisted, and to transfer them to Arab villages.” Lapidot said that the Etzel headquarters in Jerusalem ordered him and his charges to act according to the Geneva convention, and that the Etzel people accepted this (the testimony of Yehuda Lapidot and Ben Zion Cohen are in the Jabotinsky Institute). It was decided that the Etzel would supply the arms – thirty rifles, thirty five home-made Etzel Sten guns, and three machine guns – and Lehi would supply the explosives and pistols. April 7 was set as the date of the attack, because the battle for the Qastel was going on then, but Deir Yassin was attacked two days later on April 9.(50)

In most of the agreements between David Shaaltiel and the his staff on the one hand, and the Lehi and Etzel commanders on the other, Zalman Meret was the Liaison person for the Hagana. These contacts were secret, and a few senior commanders – and a few people from Shaaltiel’s staff- did not know about them; others knew only part of the story. After the battle in Deir Yassin, Shaaltiel claimed there were no agreements and no contacts. Some of the Hagana commanders in Jerusalem gave testimony as to what happened in Deir Yassin, and some of them did not stand on the distinction between facts and propaganda. In 1960 David Shaaltiel told the IDF history department: “I can’t say I didn’t know about the operation. One day before the operation (April 8) Yeshurun Schiff told me about it. I met with a Lehi representative and told him I was opposed to the operation. I emphasized that the village was friendly to us. If they want to act to save the city, there are other battle sectors and duties that are more important. But they informed me that they were nonetheless going to take over the village, and that this was a punitive action. I said that in that case they would have to hold the village. I assumed they would be reluctant to do the operation because they wouldn’t want to be pinned down. I suggested that the help un in the Qastel (51). Etzioni brigade operations officer Tziyon Eldad testified that Shaltiel told him that the Etzel and Lehi were planning to attack Deir Yassin, and that he, Eldad told him “this is a quiet village and its inhabitants haven’t bothered us.” Eldad confirmed that other targets were suggested to the dissidents, but they refused(52).

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This is the story as told by Meir Pail: A day or two before the Deir Yassin affair I met an acquaintance, a Lehi Man, Moshe Idelstein – who was once in the Palmach and knew me from Company Daled (but I think he did not know what my assignment was in Jerusalem) – and he told me that the Etzel and the Lehi are going to attack Deir Yassin and that I ought to come and see how they operate. (Moshe Idelstein said, ” I knew exactly what Pail’s assignment was, and I never told him about our plan to attack Deir Yassin or any other place, and in any event I did not invite him to join us (53). Additionally, Idelstein’s superior in the Lehi, Moshe Barzilai, said that the Lehi people knew what Pail’s assignment was. I immediately ran to David Shaalitel and he told me that the Etzel people had informed him of their plan to raid Deir Yassin, and that he told them that the Hagana has an agreement with this village and that there was no point in raiding a peaceful village. He suggested other targets to them: Ein Kerem or Colonia, but they refused. David (Sha’altiel) told me he hesitated quite a while as to whether or not to approve this operation. He did not imagine that there could be a massacre there. In the prevailing mood of those days it was difficult to prevent the Etzel and Lehi operation by force, and even if Shaltiel wanted to stop it, he did not have the troops to do it. He believed that the Etzel and Lehi people would act even without his approval, and therefore he approved it, on condition that they would stay in the village after it was conquered and defend it from counter-attacks of the Arabs. I remember expressing my surprise that he had given approval but I didn’t argue with him. I understood that there was no choice. I didn’t have the authority any more to decide to stop the attack on Deir Yassin operation, and anyhow the district commander had already approved it.(55)”

The head of the Jerusalem Shai {Hagana intelligence } Yitzhak Levi was on the way out then also, after the incident of the car bomb in the national institutions (on March 11 1948, See Vol III, Chapter 5, ‘Arab car-bombs’ sections 5 and 6. Levi wrote in his book “When I found out about Sha’altiel’s letter to the Irgun, I hurried to him and explained the gravity of what he had done. The villagers were faithful to the treaty we had with them and we must not hurt them in such an ugly way. I requested permission to inform the villagers that the Haganah is no longer responsible for their security and to advise them to leave the village, without telling them that an attack was imminent. Shaaltiel rejected my request, and said he could not endanger an operation conducted by Jews by any hint to the Arabs, even if there was an agreement with them. I believe even today (1986), that if Shaaltiel had forbidden the attack based on the treaty with Deir Yassin, they would have refrained from attacking the village.(56)”

All these are late testimonies. Here is a section from a letter that Shaaltiel sent at the time, to Ra’anan and Zettler, on April 7, 1948 (two days before the attack, and supposedly a day before Yeshurun Schiff informed him of it, according to Sha’altiel’s account given to the IDF historical department): I have been informed that you are planning to carry out an operation in Deir Yassin. I want to bring to your attention that taking Deir Yassin and holding it are a stage in our general plan. I have no objection to your carrying out the operation, on condition that you have the strength to hold it (Deir Yassin). If you cannot do this I must warn you against demolishing the village with explosives (Sha’altiel was also opposed to demolition of the Qastel, as explained in the previous chapter) which… would cause the villagers to leave and the ruins and houses to be taken over by foreign forces (the intention: I warn you not to demolish the village houses, because if you do that the villagers will run away and the Iraqi and Syrian soldiers, and those of the ‘Salvation Army’ will infiltrate it). A situtation such as that will make the general battle more difficult instead of easier, and the reconquest of the place would exact many casualties from our troops. An additional reason I wish to raise before you is that if foreign troops are drawn to the place, it will interfere with our plan to build an aerodrome (57)” This letter by Shaltiel does not mention the agreement between the people of Deir Yassin and the people of Givat Shaul, and does not talk about the refusal of the villagers to harbor Iraqi or Syrian soldiers, or about their resistance to the pressures of Abdel-Khader El-Husseini. The sentence “Deir Yassin and holding it are a stage in our general plan” discredits the claim that the Haganah commanders did not see any point in conquering Deir Yassin. {A.I.– not necessarily. “taking” in Hebrew was “litfos” – to catch, and not “kibush” to conquer. The intent, according to Meir Pail, was taking over peacefully as at Abu Ghoush.}

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Shimon Monita (who was ‘Hassid’) testified that he told his liaison in the Shai about the intention of the Etzel and Lehi to attack Deir Yassin, and that after some time his liaison told him that is was “OK” as far as the Haganah was concerned.(58)

Here is a section of the report filed on the day following the attack (April 10) by the sector intelligence officer. Mordehai Gihon, to Zalmen Meret: “RE our aid to revisionist forces: After the liaison officer of the revisionists reported the hour of the attack, our positions were given appropriate orders regarding aid in time of retreat and medical assistance(59)” {A.I. – in a larger section quoted in Yitzhak Levi, it says specifically that the Haganna did not know about the attack, and Levi notes that Gihon was probably not informed} Years later Gihon said his commanders told him there was an agreement between the Haganah and the dissidents about the attack on Deir Yassin and that the Haganah was responsible for cutting off the road between Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, {in the actual report, Gihon said that he was ordered to cover the retreat- A.I.} and ordered him to set up a Spandau machine gun on the Sharafa ridge and cover the road. Gihon and his friend slept in Givat Shaul on the night of April 8, in order to get out to their position at dawn on April 9. (60). Here is a section from the Shai report: “Before the battle the Etzel people met with the representatives of the Hagana and gave them details of their plan, including the Zero Hour. In the same meeting it was decided that if the Etzel would have to retreat, the Haganah forces would cover the retreat(61).”

The Lehi operations office (Dror) and Zalman Meret coordinated the stages of the attack and communications setup before the attack. Zettler said later that after one of the coordination meetings Dror told him that Meret requested, in the name of Shaltiel, a few tins of explosives. Dror gave Meret explosives, which the Lehi had in abundance, and got in return a tin full of Bren machine gun bullets. (62). This ammunition was brought to the Lehi people by Moshe Solomon, a platoon commander in Meret’s company (63). A few of the Lehi people said that Meret had met with Dror and Barzilai on April 8, before evening, in his house in Ein Kerem. Barzilai said of this meeting: “Meret asked, in Shaltiel’s name, that we attack on Friday (Deir Yassin) April 9 at dawn, to help with the reconquest of the Qastel. We asked him for vehicles, ammunition and food, and he immediately filled our requests. We brought the request for a dawn attack to Zettler and Raanan for approval (64). Zettler: “There were many extremely religious people in the Lehi, and I tried not to operate on the Sabbath; the attack on Friday morning was liable to have brought us into operational activiity on the Sabbath, but after receiving from Dror the urgent request of Shaltiel I agreed to attack on Friday at dawn(65)”

Moshe Idelstein related that on April 8 in the afternoon, in the Allenby cafe in Jerusalem, he was asked by one of the battalion headquarters people of the Palmach to coordinate the attack on Deir Yassin with the attack of the Palmach on the Qastel and with the first Nachshon convoy from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv. Idelstein brought this request to Zettler, and “at night I travelled with one of the Palmach convoy escorts, Avri Elad, along the length of the convoy parked on the road in Beit Hakerem, and we discussed last minute coordination(66)”

Dror and Zalivensky reported, according to their testimony, to Meret that Zettler agrees to coordinate the Deir Yassin attack with the Haganah attack on the Qastel and with the convoy. According to Zalivensky, Meret told him, before they left “do it and succeed.(67)”

In the light of this testimony we can assume that the counterattack plan of Yigal Yadin in the Jerusalem area included, along with the battle for the Qastel and opening of the road to the plains, the attack of the Etzel and Lehi on Deir Yassin Four days after the attack a member of the U.S. Consulate staff, Thomas Wesson wrote to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall that it was “connected to the battle going on at present between the Jews and the Arabs over the road to Jerusalem.(68)”


5. “Fighting Unity”


On the nights preceding April 9 Lehi and Etzel people reconnoitered around Deir Yassin and reached its outskirts. According to Yehoshua Gorodenchik this patrol – commanded by Ben-Zion Cohen and with the participation of Etzel commanders who were about to attack Deir Yassin – was coordinated with Hagannah people “we visited their positions near Deir Yassin and one of them accompanied us to the village.” In a meeting of officers after the patrol Raanan said (according to Gorodenchik’s testimony) that “The village looks quiet but it isn’t like that. The Arabs opened a logistics road from Ein Kerem to Zova and Qastel. Dir Yassin and the Sharafa hill are positions defeding this road. Therefore there is no chance of solving the problem of the Jerusalem road without conquering Deir Yassin(69)” Lehi people reconnoitered on April 7 in the neighborhood of Givat Shail, met with Haganah members in a position opposite Deir Yassin and made up a password with the “we shall hit the enemy.” The people at the position reported to their commanders that the Lehi people reconnoitered in the direction of Deir Yassin and that “we could not refuse, because there was no force to prevent them from doing it.(70)”

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On April 8 the Etzel force trained in battle tactics in the abandoned Sheikh Bader neighborhood. Commanders who had been through a course in field maneuvers and in commanding battle units (at Shuni near Binyamina) trained them and ordered them to throw grenades into each house and to shoot a round into each room before going into it.(71)”

From a parking lot on Turim street, the Lehi people ‘lifted’ an armored car belonging to the “Aleh” taxi company, that was used by the Haganah (the head of the State Department of the Jewish Agency, Golda Meir had travelled more than once in this truck) and in Peretz Epstein’s electric equipment store they rented a public address system and paid 67 Palestine pounds for it (72). Yitzhak Avni (“Abu-Gilda”), of the Etzel weapons unit brought weapons and ammunition from the warehouses in Zichron Yosef, Nachlat Zion and Meah Shearim. The commanders got pistols, and their charges got 69 rifles, stens and machine guns. Michael Harif, the commander of the Etzel weapons unit in Jerusalem, who was a commander in the attack, related that many of the fighters wen to battle without arms and intended to take weapons from casualties, either their own or Arabs(73). Reuven (Romek) Greenberg, of the Lehi intelligence unit, got a free blue and white flag from the Schwartz department store, and his friends took the flagpole from the British flag that waved over ‘Sensur House’ in the center of the city, in order to fly the Zionist flag on the roof of the house of the Mukhtar in Deir Yassin after the conquest of the village .(74)”

Sixty Lehi people gather at Sheikh Bader, and 72 Etzel people gathered in the Etz Haim neighborhood on the evening of April 8. Each unit got three (thirty?) rifles and three sten guns, one of the three Bren machine guns was given to the Lehi force, one to the Etzel force, and the third was used for the armored car with the loudspeaker. The stretcher bearers got clubs. Each rifleman got 40 bullets and each person with a Sten gun got 100 bullets, and each fighter got 2 hand grenades. There was no communications equipment. The password was ‘Achdut Lohemet’ (fighting unity) and the zero hour was set, (in coordination with Zalman Meret) for 4:30 A.M.

Yona Feitleson of the Shai came to Givat Shaul, and told the Haganah people on guard duty that the Etzel and Lehi forces would attack Deir Yassin and ordered them to report to the district headquarters about events(76). Around midnight the Lehi people were given a ride from Sheikh Bader to Givat Shaul and positioned themselves in a Hagana position, a shelter near a beer factory. Petahiah Zalivensky told the commander of the area, Yona ben Sasson, that the attack was coordinated with Shaltiel; Ben-Sasson called the area headquarters to ask what to do, and didn’t find a senior officer, so he decided on his own not to help or hinder the Etzel people. The inhabitants of Deir Yassin, who noticed the goings-on, asked to meet with the Shai agent Ovadia, and sent the agreed-upon signal for this purpose; Ben Sasson did not let Ovadia meet with the representative of the village; he was afraid they would kidnap the liaison and keep him as a hostage(77).

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The Etzel force (under the command of Ben-Zion Cohen and deputy commanders Yehuda Lapidot and Michael Harif) arrived in Beit Hakerem at mindight, and at 1:00 AM started off on foot in the direction of Deir Yassin. Lapidot related that on the way the force met Haganah people doing guard duty. “We told them we were going to attack Deir Yassin and they blessed us “succeed, succeeed.” At 4:15 AM the force encamped close to the village and Yehuda (“Menasheh”) Treibish’s unit positioned itself close to the Sharafa hill (Mt. Herzl), which was south east of Deir Yassin and on the road to it from Ein Kerem.(78) At the same time, the Lehi force commanded by Zalivensky advanced on the village from Givat Shaul, in a vineyard. Shimon Monita related: “David Efrati and I led the column. We met up with Arabs going to work, and we shot at them. We didn’t hit them, and they disappeared. We got to the Northern outskirts of the town.” The Lehi people waited for the signal to be given by the Etzel people: a round of tracer bullets, and afterwards an announcement on the loudspeaker system asking the villagers to surrender.(79)

Ben-Zion Cohen: “Arab guards were walking around among the village houses and talking to each other. At 4:25 one of us started a little rock slide by mistake, and there was a noise of footsteps. One of the guards turned to his companion and said “Yah Muhammed” and our squad leader made a mistake and thought these were Lehi people and that one of them had given the first part of the password: “Achdut.” He answered “Lohemet.” The Arab guards shouted, “Muhammed, Yahud!” (Jews) and shot. I had no choice, and at 4:20 {5 minutes before the supposed incident – A.I.} I ordered squad commander Yehuda Segal to fire a round of tracer bullets from the machine gun, and the attack started.(80)

Michael Harif: “My unit stormed and passed the first row of houses. I was among the first to enter the village. There were a few other guys with me, each encouraging the other to advance. At the top of the street I saw a man in khaki clothing running ahead. I thought he was one of ours. I ran after him and told him, “advance to that house.” Suddenly he turned around, aimed his rifle and shot. He was an Iraqi soldier. I was hit in the foot. I couldn’t continue commanding my unit. I called out that I was wounded and evacuated myself to the rear, limping on one foot. I went into a yard in the area we had already conquered and sat there. (81)”

The armored car with the loudspeaker left Givat Shaul a few minutes before 5:00 AM as planned, and by then the battle had already started (because of the error of the Etzel people). There were five Etzel people and five Lehi people in that armored car. They got to a ditch (which the patrols had not noticed beforehand) and stopped. Some of them got out of the armored car, under fire, and filled in the ditch using their helmets and rocks. Yosef Yagan (a Lehi person) was killed and others were wounded. Ezra Yachin related, “After we filled in the ditch we continued travelling. We passed two barricades and stopped in front of the third, 30 meters away from the village. One of us called out on the loudspeaker in Arabic, telling the inhabitants to put down their weapons and flee. I don’t know if they heard, and I know these appeals had no effect. We alighted from the armored car and joined the attack(82)”

Operations officer B of Etzioni, Eliahu Arbel {A.I.- same as “Eliahu the Czech”} (Shaltiel appointed Arbel to investigate the Deir Yassin affair) described the battle in his report: “With the commencement of the battle and the first dead and wounded casualties among the attack force, chaos broke out among the people. Some wanted to withdraw, and only after coaxing did people continue fighting in the village. Etzel people got mixed up with Lehi people and the senior commanders had no control over their people. Each little unit carried on the battle independently.(83)” The commanders of the hagganah set up a kind of headquarters in Givat Shaul, to follow the events in Deir Yassin. Zalman Meret was at this post throughout the battle. David Shaltiel, Zion Eldad, Yeshurun Schiff and Shlomo Havilov reached Givat Shaul several time that day, and liaison officers kept them in touch with Zettler and Raanan. Shaltiel said in his testimony, “I got to Givat Shaul before noon. I saw Yehoshua Zettler. They asked us to help evacuate the wounded.” Yizhak Levi wrote that “Zalman Meret was with Shaltiel at Givat Shaul during the battle.” Yehoshua Zettler: “Dror was in constant communication with Zalman Meret.” Mordehai Gihon, who was also in Givat Shaul, related that Meret was there during the entire battle (84) {A.I. – It is not possible that he was there during most of the battle, since he was busy giving cover fire as reported elsewhere}

The attackers, who had gotten into trouble, did indeed request help, and Meret responded to their request. Yona Feitelson related, ” I was in our headquarters on duty that night. The people from Givat Shaul asked what to do, the attackers are stuck, and they were ordered to attack them.(85)” The duty officer in Shaltiel’s headquarters wrote in the operations log, around 6:00 AM : D.Y. was conquered by the dissidents in a joint Etzel and Lehi operation. Lehi, from the direction of Givat Shaul, succeeded, Etzel ran into difficulties. There are reports of significant resistance. Dead and wounded among the attackers.(86)” Here is the testimony of a member of the ‘Furman’ unit of the Palmach, Nachum Gross, “Earlier in the morning Avri came to (camp) Schneller, and said that the Etzel had tried to conquer Deir Yassin, they were worn out and tired and requested help, to prevent a counter attack and so they could rest. We thought then that the village endangered traffic to Jerusalem and that its reconquest by Arabs should be prevented. There were those who said it was a village of rioters.

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It seemed natural to me to help in conquering the village.(87).” One of the people who rode from Camp Schneller to Deir Yassin related, “Early in the morning we got an order to go out to Deir Yassin with a two inch mortar. We ordered a ‘Nesher’ taxi and we rode, four guys, to the Jewish Agency buildings. We took a mortar and we took a Jerusalem resident as a guide. Near the quarry a Lehi man waited for us and pointed out the Mukhtar’s house. The shooting stopped in the area we shot at, and then a messenger came from Shaltiel and ordered us to return immediately to Schneller. {A.I. – this is the same thing Eren says later, mixed in with a different report of Palmach/Hagana help by Mordehai Weg} The Lehi person did not intervene. ” Idelstein related that only three of the Palmach reinforcements returned to camp Schneller, while the fourth, Avri Elad, remained in Givat Shaul(88). {This is the only report of four men in a taxi. Pail, Y. Levi and ZOA relate only Weg’s report}

Gloomy Atmosphere

In daylight, the Etzel people advanced up the top of the hill, under fire from the porches and the positions in the east of the village and the ridges overlooking it. Some of them tried to take over the houses from which the Arabs were firing. Contrary to the reports of their trainers before the attack, the doors of the houses were not made of wood, but of iron, and they couldn’t break them in by pushing and kicking. Therefore they attached explosives charges to them and blew them open. The people in the houses were wounded and killed. Following is the announcement of the mandate government, published in the papers on the same morning: “The Jews conquered part of the Arab town of Deir Yassin. Five of the village houses were demolished with explosives and several Arabs were killed (89)” At noon the British broadcast that information over the radio.(90).

The Etzel fighters advanced toward the target without mutual cover and without systematic advances by groups, and didn’t take advantage of ground-cover and dead-areas. Some of them were wounded immediately. Yehuda Banai related, “At a distance of five meters from the village heavy fire opened up on us. I got an order to retreat, and then I was hit by a bullet. I lay there for about half an hour until I was evacuated.(91)” Moshe Nachum Mizrachi says he heard a shout “Andak!” (Halt) and then “we lay down. One shot was fired at us. We advanced, and then a round of automatic fire was fired at us. We started storming the village. They (the Arabs) had positions in the houses and on the roofs. We heard rounds of fire…Arabs moved between the positions. We heard a rustle and saw a group of seven soldiers dress in khaki with Kaffiyeh’s with white and red dots on their heads, belonging to the gangs of marauders. We shot at them and they spread out. And then we were shot at from the windows and we were afraid to move. I was wounded. Each minute seemed to me like an hour. When we gathered I saw many wounded, and the commander of the operation was wounded in his foot. I saw an Arab boy crying, and I gave him over to an Arab woman.(92)”

Yehoshua Sherry: ” We passed the area of a building where there was no resistance, and there were a few women and children there. I told them in Arabic to get into the house. When we were on the path, between two rows of houses, a man approached us wearing a British helmet, a blue battledress and khaki pants, holding a rifle. He came at a run. We called out to him ‘password’ and he did not answer, we shot at him and he disappeared. We advanced and heavy fire began from one of the buildings. We stopped behind the fence. We had to retreat several meters and I got a bullet in the left shoulder. I was sent to one of the corners there and got first aid.(93)”

The Lehi force penetrated the village from the north, and there the defenders of the village did not have a topographic advantage. Petahiah Zalivensky {related}, ” Each group advanced to its goal. We blew up the doors (of the hourses) with fingers of gelignite, we threw grenades into the houses and sprayed them with fire. That is how many Arabs were injured during the battle. In one house we found a Yugoslav Moslem officer and a deserter from the legion, alive. We identified them from their documents, and we killed them (94)”

Shimon Monita {related}, “A sniper who commanded a view of the entire area of the Mukhtar’s house harrassed us. Each shot of his, from a distance of 500 meters, was on target. We entered the houses to hide from the sniping. Dror was hit in the foot. I dragged him to cover. Unit commander Amos Keynan was wounded by a bullet that one of our men fired. The village guards shot a weak fire. The Sten’s we got from the Etzel didn’t work. Unit commander David Shnieveis (‘Zamir’) took cover behind a mound of stones and fixed the Stens so they would work while the battle was going on. Most the fighters had not been trained in this kind of fighting. Some of them through the grenades without taking out the pins.(95)”

Reuven Greenberg {related} “The Arabs fought like lions and excelled at sharpshooting. Women went out of the houses under fire, picked up the weapons dropped by the Arab fighters who had been hit and passed them on to the inner positions(96)”

One unit of Etzel fighters commanded by Yehuda Treibish advanced along the Sharafa ridge. Armed Arabs

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who had run away from Deir Yassin also got to the ridge. Michael Harif was lying wounded in one of the courtyards of the village, that had a Bren machine gun in it. He related, “I told Segal (the machine gunner) here, you can shoot them over there’ and he shot and we saw that they ran away.” In the exchange of fire on the Sharafa Efraim Yakobi was killed and two people from Treibish’s unit were wounded. They ran out of ammunition and they retreated from the ridge(97). This is the story related by Devorah Yakobi, who lived in the Yeffe Nof neighborhood at the time, “I stood on a hill and watched. I saw two people running away along the slope of the Sharafa. They fell and didn’t get up. I took a stretcher and blankets and the first aid kit that I had because of my assignment in the Hagannah, and I advanced toward them. Other people from the neighborhood got there. They carried the wounded to the road, and evacuated them to the hospital. The Etzel commander shook my hand.(98)” A section of the report submitted on the following day by Gihon to Zalman Meret reads, “The dissident forces refused to give medical aid to their wounded. This aid was given, without regard to personal danger, by our people, under murderous fire.99)”

About 7:00 AM the defenders of Givat Shaul were informed that Arab reinforcements from ein Kerem and Malchah were advancing in the direction of Deir Yassin. Mordehai Gihon climbed the Sharfa ridge, which was empty. Gihon reported “The Arabs who had hit the Etzel people had left, it seems. We saw Arabs running away from Deir Yassin, and we got the impression that a group was being organized to the south to reinforce the village that was under attack. We shot rounds from the Spandau machine gun at the road. We hit the Arabs escaping from Deir Yassin and blocked their road. We stopped the advance of the reinforcements, and we may have hit Etzel troops who entered our firing range. At about 8:30 AM we returned to Givat Shaul.” The Haganah people in the south westerly neighborhoods of Jerusalem kept fiing in the same direction.(100)

At 6:00 AM Ben-Zion Cohen was wounded (he was evacuated only at 11:30 AM). A few of the Etzel people advanced under fire and met up with Lehi people. Most of the Etzel people stayed in the houses at the outskirts of the village. At 9:00 AM a runner from the village got to Mordehai Raanan’s headquarters in Givat Shaul and reported “there are 20 casualties and the force cannot advance. Cohen is wounded and requests orders.” Raanan related, “Gal and I walked to the village, under sniper fire. We got to where the wounded were concentrated, behind a terrace at the entrance to the village. Cohen said to us “Decide. In my opinion we don’t have a chance of taking the village. We have to withdraw.’ There was a gloomy atmosphere” {no ref. given – A.I}

Ezra Yachin related that at 7:00 AM an Etzel messenger came to the Lehi battle sector and said that the

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members of his organization were considering a retreat because of lack of ammunition. Dror (who was not yet wounded then) said to the messenger, “go, convince them not to retreat, we are inside the village.” {no ref. given – A.I}

Raanan returned from Deir Yassin to Givat Shaul and asked Zettler for explosives. The charges were brought from the city an hour and a half later. Gal and his men blew up house after house, and the houses collapsed on their inhabitants.(101) “During the house-to-house fighting the attack force pushed the enemy towards the Mukhtar’s house,” it was written in the report that the intelligence officer of the Etzioni Brigade gave David Shaltiel several days later. (102)

Most of the Jewish wounded in the battle for Deir Yassin were Etzel people. The lightly wounded walked to Givat Shaul, bent over and behind cover. Some of the severely wounded were carried by their friends. Yehuda Segal (his nickname was “Yiftach,” He died two weeks later in hospital) was wounded in the abdomen and asked Lapidot to shoot him. “I laid him down on a door and two men carried it,” Lapidot related. “The two people carrying the door were wounded, and I sent out people who brought back the three of them. ” At 7:00 AM a casualty got to Givat Shaul and shouted, “Why aren’t they evacuating the wounded!?” Meret called the Magen David Adom station. An ambulance came to the battle area and parked between Givat Shaul and Deir Yassin. The attackers took beds out of the houses, laid the wounded on them and ordered the inhabitants of the village, including women and old people, to carry the beds to the ambulance and to screen them. They believed the Arabs would not shoot their own people. Yehoshua Gorodenchik, who supervised the transport of the wounded, related that Arab snipers and machine gunners continued firing and hit many of the Arab stretcher bearers. At 8:00 A.M. the ambulance evacuated wounded to a hospital in the city, and the other casualties waited a long time until it returned. Meir Zorea, commander of the Beit Horon brigade of the Etzioni battalion, was in the area headquarters when an Etzel messenger arrived from Givat Shaul.”If you don’t help us we are lost,” the messenger said. In a telephone conversation, Shaltiel asked Yoseph Tabenkin to send three armoured cars from Kiryath Anavim to evacuate the wounded. Later he testified, “I was forced to order the Palmach force to help them, to get them out.” Tabenkin sent the armored cares, with drivers who were Etzel members before joining the Palmach, and they evacuated most of the severely wounded. The commander of the Etzel casualty evacuation unit, Dina Barzilai, and her deputy, Deborah Simchon, also were in the Palmach armored cars. During the evacuation of the casualties, Simchon was wounded. Later Tsion Eldad testified, ” If not for the aid of the Palmach, the Etzel could not have evacuated its wounded, and could not have continued the operation.” Two days after the operation Shaltiel explained in a telegram to Yisrael Galili, “They got into difficulties…and begged us to evacuate their wounded. We had to help them.” Later Zalman Meret related, “The Lehi commander begged Shaltiel… Shaltiel scolded them, asking why had they gone to Deir Yassin, and said they had gone their to win glory(103).

The Palmach Was There


{A.I. – This is the universally agreed upon appearance of the Haganah/Palmach. The one described previously is not noted by others }


When the Lehi and Etzel fighters ran out of ammunition, during the battle, the Hagana commander of Givat Shaul, Yona Ben Sasson, gave them some ammunition, and they took, without his permission, a Lewis machine gone that was set up in that neighborhood (several days later Shaltiel relieved Ben Sasson of his command because of this act).(104). Lapidot related, “The stockpile of ammunition for British guns that we found in the village, saved the situation. We loaded the clip of the Bren, we gave out weapons to the men and we kept fighing.” Yehoshua Gorodenchick found, in one of the houses, clips with bullets for a Bren machine gun (105). Lehi people found bullets for Czech rifles in the village, that didn’t fit their rifles. David Gottlieb, Moshe Barzilai and Moshe Idelstein rode to Camp Schneller and offered the convoy escorts a deal: 6000 Czech bullets for 3000 British bullets. The commander, Ya’akov Weg, wasn’t in the camp then (he commanded the unit that secured the road near Colonia) and the deputy, Moshe Eren, refused to make a decision on such a sensitive issue and called Weg. Here is a section of Weg’s report. “I was informed about Deir Yassin and their desperate situation, because they were unable to get their wounded out. They ask for arms, cover and personnel, since they didn’t have any professionals. I asked permission of the district commander, via the battalion intelligence officer. The answer was: ‘you are to go out and provide cover for taking out the wounded only.’” {this occurred at 6:30 A.M. according to Weg’s report. The time has been intentionally removed by Milstein because it is too early for the telephone call probably – A.I.}

Weg came back to Camp Schneller and gave the 3,000 bullets to Zettler’s messengers. They also asked him for a machine-gun and a mortar. “I won’t give you weapons” Weg said, “But I well help you evacuate wounded if I get permission.” Permission was granted. Later Moshe Eren testified, ” Shaltiel gave Yaki (Weg) permission by telephone to go out to Deir Yassin with a squad.”

At noon {A.I. – not 10 AM! as reported by Katz and Pail and so on!} fifteen convoy escorts, Palmach people, went out to Deir Yassin in two armored cars

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and a tender, with two 52 mm {A.I. -2 inch} mortars and three machine guns. Weg: ” I met with the commanders of both organizations and asked for a map. I asked for a precise explanation… They explained that they have no communications other than by runners… they indicated a certain house in the west of the village… There were 25 people there (in the village) with two machine guns and rifles who were pinned down by snipers (the snipers were shooting from the house indicated by the Lehi and Etzel commanders to Weg). There was no commander among them, and the people did not heed orders, because they belonged to different organizations. I shot three shells to the north wing of the house. After the shelling the shooting stopped… I reported to the district commander {A.I.-Shaltiel} and I got an order to be ready to cover removal of wounded or retreat, and not to intervene in any battle action.” Eren: “There was a consultation. It turned out that the attackers and Arabs were intermingled with each other in the village and that it was not possible to use mortars and machine guns without endangering the Lehi and Etzel people. To evacuate the casualties, we had to get rid of the sources of fire. Yaki decided to bring the force into the village and I also thought that was the way to carry out the mission.” Two Palmach units, under the command of Weg and Eren, went into Deir Yassin. One of the Palmach people, Gideon Sarig, stayed in the Lehi headquarters in Givat Shaul, in order to guard the armored cars. “There was a United Press photographer there, and there was an excited riffraff of Jews,” Sarig related. “Women were filling magazines of rifles and machine guns {A.I- sub machine guns?} with bullets from glass jars.”

This is the story related by Palmach member Kalman Rosenblatt, who went into Deir Yassin with his comrades: “Together with six (other) people I went from house to house. We threw grenades into the houses before we entered them. We met the Lehi and Etzel people in the middle of the village. Some of them joined us. Others said ‘Until now, we fought, now you fight.’ In the houses there were dead. The dissidents did not fight”. {A.I.-These two previous sentences are not in the ZOA report. That is what they say – literally. It seems to mean – the people were dead before the grenades were thrown. There was no resistance, but the dissidents just wouldn’t fight} {A.I. -seemingly it contradicts a previous sentence that says some dissidents did fight. I think what he meant here was not that they didn’t join him in fighting, but just that there was no more resistance, and they had not been fighting before and that is the reason they failed to advance }.

David Gottlieb (Lehi member) :” The Palmach people achieved in one hour what we could not accomplish in several hours. They had good weapons, they were trained in battle, and they operated quickly and efficiently.” {A.I. – This is an almost literal translation of what it says. Note that there are minor differences from the ZOA quote, indicating carelessness}

Moshe Eren:There was hellish fire in the village. The wounded were close to the firing. We tried to get close to them, and then a runner came, in the name of Shaltiel, and ordered us to leave the village immediately We did not get to the Mukhtar’s house.” {A.I. – This contradicts everything else said by others. It seems to me that Eren might have been in a different group – the four people who came by taxi earlier. The same sentence about the runner from Shaltiel appears in the earlier account}.

Nachum Gross L “The village was empty, the houses were abandoned in haste and only vital necessities were taken from them”

Before Weg’s troops returned to Camp Schneller some of the Lechi people invited them to a kumzitz (informal campfire gathering – usually with swiped food}in the evening, “in honor of the joint conquest.” The invitation provoked arguments: to respond or not to respond to the invitation of the dissidents. This problem was solved by Moshe Dayan, who got to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv (through the Dead Sea), and gathered the convoy escorts for a talk in the evening. (Petachia Zalivensky claimed that Dayan visited Givat Shaul during the battle. In Zalivensky’s opinion Dayan also came to Deir Yassin. Later Zalivensky was drafted into the 89th brigade, where Dayan was his commander, and according to him, Dayan told him about his visit to Givat Shaul.)

The convoy escorts who returned to Camp Schneller brought spoils with them. {this is Milstein’s conclusion, seemingly contradicting the text -A.I.} Hadassa Avigdori got leave that weekend and stayed at her parent’s house. “When I returned in the morning to the base most of the girls were still sleeping, wrote Avigdori in her Diary on April ii, and I saw L. Standing and wiggling about in an embroidered Arab-Falach dress. And when I was wondering about it and asked her where she got this dress, one of the girls, who was covered in a blanket over her head, answered, in a muffled voice, that L. had brought the dress from Deir Yassin … from there they had brought all kinds of ‘bargains’ and ‘odds and ends,’ and the girls even asked me ‘Can’t you hear the chickens clucking outside?’ I was hit by nausea and shame and anger and pain. I got up and went back home.”(106) {There is no evidence that L. was in Deir Yassin with the convoy escorts A.I.}.

On the day of the batter the Etzel and Lehi commanders told journalists that Palmach units participated in the battle for Deir Yassin. On the next day, Hagana commanders in Tel-Aviv told the same journalists that Palmach forces had not participated in that battle.(107) Four days later, Al Hamishmar {Newspaper of the left Mapam party – A.I.} denounced the propaganda of the terror organizations, according to which Palmach units had participated in the capture of Deir Yassin.(108)

After the Palmach fighters left Deir Yassin, the Etzel and Lehi people tried to take control of the Mukhtar’s house and did not succeed. On the following day (April 10) they took control of it and flew a flag from its roof.(109) {A.I. – This is a bizarre sentence that stands in contradiction to everything else. On the afternoon of April 9, there were extensive mopping-up operations. there was evacuation of wounded, there were female soldiers, Gihon came in the afternoon. All of this would have been unlikely if there was still active sniper fire from a controlling vantage point.}

Transport of Prisoners


Many of the inhabitants of Deir Yassin had run away. Seven hundred of them arrived, on the day of the battle, at Ein Kerem and other villages south of Jerusalem. Their flight was hampered by shots fired on the road from Mordehai Gihon’s machine gun, and from the machine guns of Haganah people in the south-west neighborhoods. Many of the people fleeing were hit by these shots and many did not dare to run away because of them. {no reference given for the machine guns of other Haganah people, which were not discussed elsewhere – A.I.}

On April 9, before noon, there were only a few men left in Deir Yassin. {But earlier it said Weg only arrived at noon A.I.}. Many of those who had not been killed and had not

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run away climbed the hills near the village and shot at the attackers from them. At 9:30 AM The Lehi people put 40 old men, women and children on two trucks, and sent them to the Lehi base in Sheikh Bader. Sara Pelei related, “There were no young men among them. There were two people in the base. Myself and Amikam. Al the others were in Deir Yassin and Givat Shaul. We put them (the forty old men, women and children) in a big warehouse and locked it. Amikam cocked the sub-machine gun so they would know we had force and would not do foolish things. They were scared and disciplined and asked for water. We gave them water and cold canned meat. The women wailed. Just before evening Arieh Carmeli and other people came, put them on trucks and drove them to East Jerusalem.” {no reference-A.I.}

On April 12, three days after the event, the Shai reported to Shaltiel:”Some of the women and children were taken prisoner by the Lehi and transferred toSheik Bader. Among the prisoners were a young woman and a baby. The camp guards killed the baby before the mother’s eyes. After she fainted they killed her too.” Sara Peli denied it. Yehoshua Zettler said “That was not an intelligence report but a fabricated report. Certain people in the Hagana and in the leftist parties decided to make a political, national and cultural issue out of the conquest of Deir Yassin.(110)

A few women, members of Etzel and Lehi, gathered the inhabitants who had remained in the village. Yafa Badian relates: “we went into the houses with weapons in hand and led them to the gathering place. There the men put them on trucks and sent them to far-away places.” From 2:00 PM trucks took the inhabitants of Deir Yassin, in several rounds, to East Jerusalem, passing through Meah Shearim {orthodox neighborhood}. The evacuation was supervised by Moshe Barzilai of the Lehi and Yoel Kimchi of the Etzel. Later Barzilai said it was a humanitarian action. Nathan Yellin-Mor wrote that the last truck went through Meah-Shearim after the Sabbath had begun, and the neighborhood people cursed the passengers and spit at them, not because they were Arabs but because of the desecration of the Sabbath. Shimon Monita said, “The people of Jerusalem were despondent at that time, and the trucks with the Arabs drove through the main streets and through Mahaneh Yehuda in order to raise morale. The goal was attained and morale went up.”(111) {A.I.- This is in agreement with the account of the American Journalist Harry Levin quoted in Yitzhak Levi, Nine Measures, 1986 Page 344}. A few days later Shaltiel wrote in an internal document: “The passage of the prisoners through the Jewish population caused enthusiasm.” (112)

Here is an impressive paragraph that was publshed in the Jerusalem periodical “Baayot Hazman” six days later: “They organized a victory parage of captives, among whom were women and children, in the city, in open cars, with the hands of the victims raised and pistols, sub-machine guns and machine guns pointed at their chests. The Jewish crowd for the most part was disgusted and revolted by this spectacle. The Hagana put a stop to it, and made sure the victims were taken to the Arab section.”(113) In 1972 Gavriel Stern wrote in Al Hamishmar: ” On that same day in April 1948, I watched from my position on Neviim Street, when they took the survivors of the massacre on a revolting victory parage.”(114).

Shimon Monita: “The next day, on Saturday morning, I combed through the village with Meir Golan. We heard the cries of a baby. We went into a house and found about thirty women and children hiding. We put them on trucks. An old Arab could not walk. One of the Lehi people said to me “Shoot him.” I said “You shoot.” Nobody shot him, and we put him on the truck too. During the day we discovered more Arabs in hiding, and we drove all of them to East Jerusalem. On Saturday evening there was not even one Arab in Deir Yassin.” (115)

Moral Shock


On April 9 at noon an Arab fellow disguised as a woman was brought to the Lehi headquarters, and one of the people present shot him in the head. Gideon Sarig, who witnessed this incident, related that some Jewish civilians through the body of the victim into a fire. (116) This deed was witnessed by local and foreign journalists, Hagana commanders, neighborhood people and many Jews who had come there. Bruria Hoffman, a Jerusalem resident, testified: “there were rumors that there was maltreatment (of prisoners) at Deir Yassin, ears were cut off.”(117) Shlomo Sofer, who served as an officer in the police, called Moshe Barzilai in Givat Shaul, and said “There are rumors that there were massacre incidents in Deir Yassin.” (118) Hadassah Avigdori wrote in her diary two days later: “Rumors constantly arrive about indiscriminate wildness and bloodthirstiness, murder of peaceful women, children and old people, torture and murder of prisoners, torture of people.” (119)

Shaltiel and his headquarters people sent Mordehai Gihon from Givat Shaul to Deir Yassin to convince the attackers to stop the massacre, and to bury the dead immediately (that is, to get rid of the evidence of the murder). This is Gihon’s story: “Meret told me, ‘Take a platoon, advance toward Deir Yassin and make order there. Over here the guys are saying

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there is a massacre there. Make sure they don’t make a mess. If they did, we want a clean area. No bodies should remain, they should be buried. They should behave like civilized fighting people.’ I suppose that it was decided to give me this mission because there was a suspicion that the revisionists would resist and that there would be some shooting, and therefore it was bet that the commander of the mission would be someone neutral, loyal to the Haganah but with no prior account with the dissidents and not known as hostile to them. I understood that it was forbidden to make the relations worse.” {this is peculiar – the alternative person he is describing is Meir Pail or maybe Yitzhak Levi A.I.}

“Before we got to the village we saw people carrying bodies to the quarry each of Deir Yassin. We entered the village around 3:00 in the afternoon. Shots were heard. They stopped me at the entrance. I identified myself, and said that my mission was to check the situation in the village, and I demanded that I be allowed to enter. The said “You will not enter, and if you try we will open fire on you’ {A.I. – not the same greeting Weg got in the morning – maybe they were hiding something}. I said I would use force. They consulted, and suggested that I come in alone, without my people. I agreed, and the people of my platoon waited outside the village. Afterwards people calmed down and they let some of my men enter.”

“In the village there were tens of bodies. The dissidents got them out of the roads. I told them not to throw the bodies into cisterns and caves, because that was the first place that would be checked. From time to time I sent a runner to Givat Shaul, to inform Shaltiel and his headquarters staff of my findings. I was shaken by the sight of some of the dissidents eating with gusto next to the bodies. I did not see any signs of mutilation, and I did not see any murders. While I was in the village I did not see any commander or intelligence person of the Hagana. Before evening fell I got an order, via a runner to return to Givat Shaul. I reported to Meret orally, and he asked me to prepare a written report. On the following day I submitted the report. At the time I had just been through British Army service and had met Holocaust survivors in the camps. The visit to Deir Yassin was a moral shock for me. Before then I had never seen so many bodies. Today I know that other things like that occurred.(126)”

Mordechai Ra’anan: “At 2:30 in the afternoon Yeshurun Schiff came to me and said that Shaltiel and Eldad wanted to talk to me. I walked with him from Deir Yassin to Givat Shaul. I said to Shaltiel, ‘what’s the problem? We’re done, the village is conquered, there are no Arabs in it. We evacuated all the Arabs who were not killed. {A.I. – contradicts earlier statement that the Mukhtar’s house was not taken until the next day, and that many Arabs were found hiding on Saturday} Take the village into your custody, as it is written in your letter.’ {A.I. – the letter said nothing of the kind. Raanan is incriminating himself by his own testimony}. Shaltiel said, ‘what are you talking about? You are going to hold the village!’ I said to him, ‘You will not get us stuck in that village, we are a fighting and attack force and not holders of positions., and you will not neutralize us, and we are afraid the RAF will come and attack us, there is a large concentration of Lehi and Etzel fighters here.’ And he said, ‘No way!’ I said to him. ‘No way? Bye, we’re leaving.’ Then he said to Schiff and Eldad, ‘go in to the village with Raanan and see what sort of force is needed to hold it.’ The three of us reconnoitered the village. We got to the ruined houses. Schiff approached the ruins, cam back and said, ‘Raanan, it is horrible. There are crushed bodies there.’ There were body parts there and all those things that happen when a house is blown up with its inhabitants inside. I went in and I really saw a rather shocking sight. OK, it happens, in war things like that also happen. We didn’t know that they were holding women and children, mothers and civilians in houses that they turned into fortresses. This was the row of schoolhouses of the village. There were fortified positions on the roofs. We went back to Givat Shaul and Eldad said to Shaltiel, without telling him at all about the blown-up houses, “I believe a group of Gadna can hold it. I think there is no danger of counter-attack.’”

“We almost agreed, and then Schiff said to Shaltiel, ‘You are sending Gadna youngsters? You cannot send Gadna youngsters, who will see the horrors of remains of corpses.’ The emphasis in Schiff’s words was not on the remains of corpses but on the difficult of Gadna people in digesting the scene. Sha’altiel said, ‘If you don’t clean up, it will be ta-ta-ta-ta.’ And Schiff tried to convince me, ‘Raanan, come on, make an effort, try to clean up.’”

“I came back to the village and I said to Lapidot, ‘Let’s see if we can clean this up.’ Our guys broke while trying to take care of this matter. They picked up masses of concrete and Jerusalem stone in order to remove the remains of the corpses. It was awful. They got some of the remains out of the buildings, to some clearing in a more or less level place, and they broke. Lapidot told me. ‘It is absurd to ask them to do this. I cannot do this. Finished!’ I said,’Finished? Finished!’ The bodies remained in place, and I went back to Givat Shaul. Shaltiel and his headquarters staff were not there any more. Just before evening I returned to Jerusalem and told Shaltiel on the telephone that we would evacuate the village in the morning. He asked us to hold the village at least until Sunday (121)”

Here is a press release that Raanan composed on the same day (the Journalists got it at 7:00 PM): “The village of Deir Yassin was conquered, there was house-to-house fighting. We took prisoners. We promised to hold the village for 48 hours, and then to transfer it to the Haganah.” In response to a journalist’s question, Raanan said: “Until now we have counted two hundred and fifty four Arab dead.” {A.I. – Raanan is lying again}. This information was passed on by foreign journalists to their papers

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and that same night the BBC reported in the evening edition of the news from London that there were 250 dead of which about half were women. In 1987 Raanan said, “On that day I didn’t know, I could not know, how many Arabs were killed. Nobody counted the bodies. People estimated that 100 or 150 people were killed, so I told the reporters that 254 were killed so that a big figure would be published, and so that the Arabs would panic not only in Jerusalem but across the country, and this goal was accomplished. That is how this number became rooted in the public mind. {A.I. – previous sentence omitted from ZOA report, without ellipsis} Reporters, journalists, researchers and historians treat it as if it were an established fact requiring no investigation, and nobody bothered to check what the true figure was.”(122)

Most of the Etzel and Lehi people left Deir Yassin on April 9 before evening came, and the remainder got organized for defense against counterattack and collected booty: Sugar, oil, flour and other foodstuffs in large quantities, and also goats, many chickens, gold, pounds sterling, dollars and jewelry. Yehuda Marinberg (Lehi) related that he and Yehoshua Goldschmidt (Etzel) divided this booty between the two organizations.

A Horrifying Spectacle


Meir Pail said to the writers of the Toldot Hahagana {Hagana History} (in 1971): On the evening of that same Friday (April 9) or earlier the next morning on Saturday, I wrote the letter to Hillel (the nom de guerre of Yisrael Galili, commander of the national headquarters. Meir Pail was then a junior officer in the Shai, and nonetheless reported not to his immediate commanding officer but to the Head of the National staff. {A.I– Pail was not in the Shai. Inasmuch as the special unit was disbanded, he was under the direct command of Galili. ‘Avni’ was a liaison officer}

in which I described what I saw, and I submitted it in the morning to D. Shaltiel in order that he transfer it to Tel-Aviv. On the very same day or the next, I met Avraham Ersht (member of the Hagana headquarters staff) who said to me ‘seal your lips’. From that I understand that the letter was read in Jerusalem headquarters. An announcement regarding Deir Yassin came from Headquarters {in Tel-Aviv, A.I}) in which I noted some material cited from my letter to Hillel.” In other testimony Pail relates that he began the report with a quote from “The City of Carnage.” According to him, he was in Deir Yassin the entire day of the battle and he reported to Galili that 250 people had been massacred, most of whome were old people, women and children, and among whom many were killed after the conquest. (124) ( In reply to an article by the author {Milstein} in the Haaretz supplement of March 10, 1989, “The lecture that was not given,” Pail said to Haaretz, “My report on the events at Deir Yassin was sent to the General Headquarters of the Hagana on Friday evening, April 9. The number of murder victims was not noted at all, because we did not know it then.”) This was the first intelligence report that the heads of the yishuv and the commanders of the Hagannah got from Deir Yassin, and the person who submitted it wrote that he was an eye witness to the murders.

On April 10 the conquerors of the village took over the last Arab positions {A.I.–again the discrepancy} and transferred the booty to their warehouses in the city and loaded thirty of the bodies on a truck. They assumed the bodies would be brought to East Jerusalem. (125) The author has not found evidence of direct negotiations between the Arabs and Jews in this matter.

A delegation of the International Red Cross had been staying in the country since the beginning of April. The head of the delegation, Jacques De Reynier, wrote in his memoirs that the Arabs informed him by telephone that the inhabitants of Deir Yasin were being massacred, and asked that he travel to that village; the Jewish Agency and Haganah people told him they do not know of a massacre, and that the village is under Etzel control and that it is impossible to enter it. “They advised me not to interfere, because if I were to go there, my mission might be ended. They washed their hands in advance of anything that might happen to me if I insisted. I answered that I would fulfill my duty and that I saw the Jewish Agency as directly responsible for my safety and freedom of action, because it is responsible for all territories under Jewish control.”

De Reynier made use of personal connections and entered Deir Yassin on the morning of April 11. A German-speaking Jew accompanied him on his visit in the village. This was the Lehi intelligence person,

Moshe Barzilai. This is Barzilai’s story: “We agreed to let De Reynier inspect the village, after the Jewish police officer Shlomo Sofer told us there were rumors of a massacre in the village, and that the Red Cross representative had asked to visit it. We hoped that with the help of De Reynier we would disprove the rumors.” De Reynier said he heard shots and met an officer (Petachiah Zalivensky) “young, polite, and correct, and in his eyes burned a strange spark, cruel or cold. I explained my mission to this commander, and told him that I was neither a judge nor mediator between the sides, and that I want to save wounded people who were still alive and to evacuate the dead.”

Zalivensky: “I allowed De Reynier to go around the village with Barzilai and examine the bodies.”

De Reynier: “He claimed they had used a loudspeaker to order all the inhabitants to leave the houses and surrender . The time given for execution of the command was a quarter of an hour. A few of these unfortunates were taken prisoner and shortly thereafter were set free and sent off in the direction of the Arab lines. ‘Those who did not obey the order got what they deserved. There is no need to exaggerate. There are only a few dead, whom we will bury after we finish cleaning up. If you find additional bodies you are
free to take them. There are no wounded.’ These words froze my blood.” {A.I.– Indeed. The story of the loudspeaker was   invented by the dissidents, and they knew it was a lie. The loudspeaker never worked, and they had opened fire immediately}

From the Red Cross De Reynier got an ambulance and a truck, and Dr Alfred Engel came with them to Deir Yassin. Here is Dr. Engel’s story: “I was requested by telephone to go somewhere to check something with the Red

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Cross, but until then I had heard nothing about the Deir Yassin affair. I was told that his is a dangerous mission, and they asked that I report what I saw there. We got into the village easily. There were only dissidents there, and they were putting bodies on trucks.”

De Reynier : “The people of the unit that were in the village were all young. Lads and lasses armed from head to toe, pistols, sub-machine guns, grenades and also large knives, stained with blood. A young and good looking girl, with criminal eyes, showed me a knife dripping with blood… I went into a house. In the first room it was dark. Everything was in disorder. Nobody was there. In one room I saw broken furniture, blankets and cold bodies. Here they had ‘cleaned up’ with a sub-machine gun and afterwards with grenades, and finished up with knives. In the next room also. When i was ready to leave I heard a sort of sigh. I looked everywhere, I turned over bodies, and finally I found a little leg, still warm. It was a ten year old girl, wounded but alive. I ordered that the bodies from this house be loaded on the truck… everywhere there was the same horrid spectacle. In all I found only two live females, the girl and an old woman that had hidden herself behind a pile of twigs.”

Dr. Engel: “In the houses there were dead, in all about a hundred men, women and children. It was terrible. I did not see signs of mutilation or rape. It was clear that they (the attackers) had gone from house to house and shot the people at close range. I was a doctor in the German army for 5 years, in WWI, but I had not seen such a horrifying spectacle.”

With the girl and old lady that were rescued from death De Reynier returned to Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency people told him, “We have no control over the Etzel and the Lehi.” Afterwards he wrote in his book” “They (the agency people) did nothing to stop certain people from carrying out an unspeakable crime.” De Reynier reported to the Arab representatives about what he saw in Deir Yassin, and asked what to do with the bodies. The people he spoke to did not agree that they be brought to the old city, because they were afraid of the effect on the inhabitants, and asked him “to stay with the dead until they were properly buried.” He returned to Deir Yassin, and claims he convinced the Etzel and Lehi people to bury the dead in a common grave. Barzilai: “Before he left, he told me, ‘it is very hot here. If you don’t do something there will be an epidemic. Burn the bodies or bury them with lime.’ We had no lime, so we decided to burn them.”(126)

Monita: “The Red Cross man told us that the Arabs do not want to receive the bodies, and that we have to bury them in Deir Yassin. We had to take them off the trucks, after they had been lying on them 24 hours. People did not want to do it. I got on a truck wearing a handkerchief over my nose and mouth, I unloaded three bodies and I couldn’t do any more. They couldn’t bury and they poured kerosene. They thought it would burn. But you cannot burn bodies. The Nazis built special a oven for that purpose, having very high heat. In the open air it is impossible. Charred bodies remained. That is the source of the stories about mutilations. (127)

“Why are you crying, boy?”


The base of the Jerusalem Gadna brigade was in the Sheikh Bader neighborhood, and it was called Givat RM (Rikuz Mfakdim )- {commanders’ compound A.I.} (presently the site of the Knesseth and Government buildings. The name ‘Givat Ram’ has remained from those times). The commanders of the Gadna live there and the cadets trained there and went out from there on operations. The commander of the base, Zvi Ankori (today a Professor of Education) and the commander of the Gadna Brigade Yehoshua Arieli (eventually a Professor of American history in the Hebrew University) were students in the Hebrew University .(129)

On April 11 Petachia Zalivensky and some Etzel and Lehi people came to Beit Hakerem, went into the Headquarters of the Michmash Battalion, and demanded of Yeshurun Schiff that he fulfill Shaltiels commitmnent and send a Gadna unit to Deir Yassin. (130) Shaltiel ordered Arieli to send his cadets to the hills overlooking the village, to repel a possible attack from the direction of Ein Kerem. “Shaltiel told me not to carry on negotiations with the dissidents and not to take over any command from them,” Arieli testified later. “He didn’t order me to prevent them from leaving the village., he just said that if the dissidents leave the village suddenly, the Arabs were liable to return to it and to endanger Givat Shaul.”(131) Avraham Lang, Commander of a Gadna Platoon, and his deputy, Doron Hisdai, got orders from Yeshurun Schiff. Hisdai: “Schiff told us, ‘Deir Yassin was conquered, there are rumors that things happened there. The district commander gave

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an order to go in there. There are no other forces (available). So it is being put on the Gadna.’ We understood that we were to take over the town. He spoke of the possibility of counter attack, and promised to supply us with new Czech weapons and trainers who would teach us to use them. Afterward he traveled to Deir Yassin, to coordinate final arrangements with the dissidents, and we joined him. Nobody stopped us at the entrance to the village. For a while we stood on the side. Somebody was moving bodies in a wheel barrow and dumping them from a porch into a little crater. For a distance of around ten meters there were fires in which bodies were burning. The smell of charred flesh haunts me to this day. When they noticed us they felt uncomfortable. We didn’t talk to them. We were in shock. We got out. In Beit Hakerem Schiff contacted Shaltiel by telephone and told him what we saw. He said “Crematorium, they are burning people.” Schiff told us, “You have work and you have to do it. It is tough to go in there with Gadna people, but you have to go in there tomorrow morning.’ The people of the unit were housed in Pension Rich in Beit Hakerem, 16 and 17 year olds, and their young leaders, and there they were trained in the Czech weapons.(132)

Some of the Gadna leaders, on the command of Shlomo Keysar, reconnoitered on the road to Deir Yassin and saw the fires. Baruch Sarel saw the people moving bodies to the quarry east of the village: “They were full of enthusiasm over the big victory,” he said later. “We were unprofessional and inexperienced, and we thought they were very good soldiers.”(133)

Tzvi Ankori commanded a platoon of Gadna whose mission was, according to him, “to relieve Etzel in Deir Yassin and to clean up the bodies from the area before the Red Cross delegation came.”(134)

Shaltiel and his headquarters staff decided to forcibly prevent the Lehi and Etzel people from leaving Deir Yassin, and so to force them to bury the bodies. This operation, “lockup,” was the mission of a military police unit of the Etzioni Brigade under the command of David Dreyfus. Here is Dreyfus’s report to Shaltierl: ” a Lehi representative met me and wanted to discuss the situation. I gave him the demand of the district commander. He asked me and the intelligence officer of sector 2 (Mordehai Gihon) to come to his headquarters, to clarify the situation. We agreed. The Lehi commander did not accept our conditions. We set up barriers and stayed on guard all night. At 6:15 A.M. we got a message from Oded (in the book of noms-de-guerre ‘A stranger would not understand’ by Gershon and Aliza Rivlin (maarachot 1988 page 338), there is no meaning for ‘Oded’; according to Yitzhak Levi, head of the Jerusalem Shai, Levi was the nom-de-guerre of one of the commanders of the guard troops in the district.) that my people would be relieved by Michmash. Michmash believed they should set up an observation post, and not send people to man the barriers. After he set up his observers, at 7:15 AM, I released my people. Meanwhile we found out that the dissidents had laid a mine near the school for the blind. We shot and blew it up. We returned at 9:00 A.M.”(135).

On April 12 the Jerusalem doctors Dr. Tzvi Avigdori and Dr. A. Druyan entered Deir Yassin {A.I. – from the histadrut doctor’s committee} “by the invitation of the Jewish Agency, on April 12 1948 we visited the village before noon. The village was empty. Looted houses. The commanders of the Haganah (the reference is to the military police) showed us bodies in different places. A mother and her children that were killed by gunfire, two bodies of women who were killed by shooting. In the quarry five bodies {killed} by shooting, and two youths of 13 or 14 {killed} by shooting; in the Wadi 25 bodies, one over the other, uncovered, children and women. We did not check each body, all were dressed. Limbs were whole. There were no mutilations. They were not buried. There are no burial arrangements. Piles of smoking {!} bodies. There were 12 bodies, and 6 burnt children. We asked for more bodies. Fifteen wounded and 15 bodies were transferred to Jerusalem by the Red Cross (there is no mention of this in De Reynier’s memoirs). There are other bodies in the houses. The Hagana commanders did not inspect the houses.”(136)

In a symposium held years later in “Yad Ben Tzvi,” Yehuda Lapidot said, “I was responsible for the village (Deir-Yassin). Avigdori and Druyan cam and said they were sent by the Jewish Agency to report on the massace and the mutilations, but they would report only the truth. They asked to visit everywhere in the village without supervision. I gave them permission. They counted ninety bodies.”(137) {A.I. –of course many were buried by then – A.I.}

On the morning of April 12 about 40 Gadna leaders and 12th grade students walked from Beit Hakerem to Deir Yassin, in three squads, and along with them came Yeshurun Schiff, some of his staff and military police people under the command of David Dreyfus. At the entrance to the village there was a barrier of rocks. Behind it stood Mordehai Raanan, Yehuda Lapidot and Petahia Zalivensky, with some of their troops. Some Gadna troops and M.P.’s said to the Etzel and Lehi people, “We will not let you leave here until you bury all the bodies.” Other Gadna people asked them to clear out immediately. Words turned to blows (138) Zalivensky: ” The commander of the Gadna told his charges, out loud, so that we would hear too, ‘We will purify the place after the villainous dissidents murdered and raped and defiled it.’ This got us very angry, and one of my men grabbed a machine gun from one of the Gadna people {A.I. – the Gadna cadets were armed with Czech rifles},  pointed it at them and threatened to fire if they didn’t shut up. Raanan got very scared. I went over to the man, I took the machine gun away from him quietly, and with that the affair was concluded.”(139)

Tzvi Ankori: “I didn’t know there was an agreement between the Haganah commanders and the dissidents on changing the forces in the village.

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I was concerned for my young charges, and I wanted to condemn the events in Deir Yassin, from the Zionist and educational standpoint. I saw myself as a Gadna member who had to educated young people to humanitarian values, and therefore I represented the changeover as expulsion of the dissidents from the village, and I said to the dissidents, ‘you are expelled.’ They cocked their Stens and waited for the order to shoot. I shouted at Raanan, ‘Stop the people!’ He said, ‘You caused it.’ There were words, and finally he gave his people an order, to about face and leave.”(140)

Doron Hisdai: “We demanded that they bury the dead before they left, and they demanded that we let them take trucks loaded with foodstuffs from the village. The commander of Sector 2, Yosef Bar-Nun, came to the village and the atmosphere heated up. Our culure office, Shlomo Dinur, gave a speech condemning the dissident, and Ankori carried out negotiations with them, and then we went into the village and took up positions. There were blows. Moshe (‘Mush’) Haviv cried. A Lehi man asked him, ‘Why are you crying, biy?’ and Mush raised his rifle and hit him in the head. A large reinforcement of Etzel people came from Givat Shaul, and then Shlomo Dinur said to them, “Take what you want and go.”(141)

Yeshurun Schiff: “I went into the village following the Gadna. I told the commander (of Etzel or Lehi), ‘you are swine.’ My people surrounded them. I spoke to Shaltiel by wireless. Shaltiel said, ‘Take their weapons, and if they do not surrender their weapons, open fire.’ I said, ‘I cannot do that to Jews.’ Shaltiel said ‘That’s an order!’ but then he changed his mind.”(142)

In the report that he gave Shaltiel, the commander of the guard, who was called “Oded,” accused Yeshurun Schiff of not carrying out the order “not to let the dissidents leave without carrying out what was required.”(143) On the other hand, Schiff claimed, in the report that he submitted to the Battalion operations officer Tzion Eldad, that he did what he did after consulting with David Dreyfus and with Meir Pail, and that Dreyfus is the man who did not carry out the orders and carried on negotiations with the dissidents. Schiff claimed that the Military Police people did not have enough troops to take on the dissidents, who had sent two truckloads of reinforcements to Deir Yassin. “The force at my command was meant to hold a section of no-man’s land and not to settle accounts in the rear, as was explained to me and emphasized in a half hour talk with the district commander.” Eldad’s answer to Schiff: “What you know about the affair is sealed. Check intentional failures.”(144)

On the same day a Haganah broadside was pasted up around the city of Jerusalem. Here are selections from it:

“This morning the last of the Lehi and Etzel people ran away from Deir Yassin, and our forces entered the village. We were forced to take this mission upon ourselves after the dissidents created, in their shameful action a new enemy front in Jerusalem, and now ran away from this front and exposed the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Arab attacks.”

” We entered this place in shame, in which the human image of the Hebrew fighter was desecrated by by the dissidents, as well as the honor of Hebrew arms and the honor of the Hebrew flag.”

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“…Haganah people will try to bury the bodies of the dead remaining in the place, and will guard the graves and the little property remaining in the village, which the dissidents left after looting, and will return it to its owners when the time comes. “(143)

During the noon hours of April 12 the Etzel and Lehi people left Deir Yassin, and the Gadna cadets manned positions around the village. Shaltiel ordered Yehoshua Arieli to get the bodies out of the village and to bury them, and he explained to him why, “Tomorrow a delegation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent will come (to the village) to check the situation.” {A.I. – this makes no sense. The Red Cross (De Reynier) had already been there on the eleventh. Druyanov and Avigdori had come on the twelfth. There was no longer any secret to hide}

Arieli (said): “I combed the village from house to house. There were three or four concentrations of bodies. Each in the corner of a house. Most of the dead were old people, women and children, and they were at the entrance to the town and in the first third of it. In the next third there were few bodies, and in the last there were none. Apparently they had had time to escape from there. I employed only older (cadet) commanders for burial. We worked at it the whole night. It was difficult to get the bodies out of two houses. We got permission to blow up the houses with the bodies. In the morning we did it. We buried about seventy bodies in a communal grave and blew up two groups, with about twenty bodies in each. Altogether about one hundred and ten dead.”(146) {A.I -. It seems people managed to get away from the Western half of the village, and were trapped in the Eastern half during the fighting. However, it could also mean that people in the Eastern half were killed during the fighting, while those to the West ran away}.

Hillel Polity (who was a Gadna Counselor): “After we got the order there were arguments among us, whether or not we were the Jewish burial society and whether Gadna counselors were emotionally capable of doing this. The stench was awful. They brought us gloves from the city, windbreakers and kerchiefs to cover our faces. We transported the bodies, two at a time, by hand, to the quarry. A bulldozer was brought from the city and used to cover the bodies with earth(147). Eli Korach related that during the burials several people from the district headquarters were in Deir Yassin, and that Yeshurun Schiff was one of them. “I thought this was a regular occurrence, that is the face of war,” said Korach.(148) Shoshana Shatai, commander of a Gadna unit that participated in the burial operation said, ” I went into one house and there was a woman there with a great smashed belly {A.I. – clear evidence of a massacre and consistent with refugee reports} . I was in shock. On the following day I told the investigator {A.I. – what investigator??} what I had seen.” (149)


The Massacre


The story of the massacre at Deir Yassin is part of the Arab tradition and the Hebrew tradition. And in fact, nobody denies: most of the dead in Deir Yassin were old men, women and children, and only a few of them were young men who could be classified as warriors, even though in the Etzel-Lehi meeting before the battle the suggestion (which was raised) of killing civilians had not been accepted, and even though the attackers called upon the villagers to leave the village at the beginning of the attack. On the other hand, there are differences of opinion regarding the number of dead. {A.I. – largely irrelevant}

On April 9, the BBC reported from London, based on what Mordehai Ra’anan had told reporters, that 200 Arabs had been killed in Deir Yassin (it seems that Ra’anan gave different numbers at different times), and on the following day, the Etzel Radio station reported two hundred and fifty four dead, based on Ra’anan’s report to the Etzel headquarters in Tel Aviv.(150) On the same day Meir Pail sent a report to Israel Galili, and used the same number as well {A.I. – how does Milstein know? report is still classified}. Eventually he repeated this number at least three times: in his testimony recorded in the Jabotinsky archives (“we know of 254 murdered Arabs”) in a newspaper interview (“The underground commanders also refused the request to bury the 254 Arab dead who were scattered around the area”) and in an article that was published in “Yedioth Ahronoth” (“The number of Arab dead in Deir Yassin was 254, according to estimates made by the Gadna cadets and people in Jerusalem, who were forced to deal with the burial after the Etzel and Lehi people left the village and refused to do this work. The number of dead was, therefore, determined by the people who were in the best position to do so. Thus there is no point in going to other sources, who had less information, to know the truth”). (151) Pail’s commander in the Shai, David Cohen (Avni) , confirmed years later, based on memory, that that was the number Pail used in his report, and said: “It seemed to us that this figure was exaggerated, and we asked him how he had arrived at it. Pail answered, ‘I didn’t count them all, but there is a report of the main protagonist himself, that is, the Etzel commander in Jerusalem, Mordehai Raanan”(152) {A.I. – Pail insists that the number of dead may be much greater than indicated in the Bir Zeit study }.


Likewise in a draft of the ‘Sefer Hamedina’ book, IDF researchers wrote, in the fifties, that 240 Arabs were killed in Deir Yassin.(153). The head of the Jerusalem Shai, Yitzhak Levy, studied the events of the War of Independence in his city for over ten years, and saw all the classified documents regarding this matter. In his book, ‘Nine Measures’ published by the IDF Maarachot publishing house he wrote “During the operation and afterwards about 254 people were killed.” (154) This number has been published hundreds of times, in Hebrew, in Arabic and in other languages.

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Shimon Monita: “Nobody counted the bodies, nor those that were buried, and everybody exaggerated their numbers. For most of them, it was the first time in their lives that they had seen so many dead, and everyone was comfortable with the high number. The dissidents were interested in boasting and scaring the Arabs; the Hagana 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. We put 30 bodies on the truck. That was the main concentration, and there were about another 30 bodies remaining; in all about 60 bodies. I reported this to my operator in the Shai, and he passed my report on to the Shai people.”(155) {A.I.- But this was done by the IZL before the Gadna came. Therefore, in addition to 110 bodies estimated by Arieli, another thirty were put on the truck-and taken where? }

The Lehi intelligence person, Moshe Idelstein said, “They talked then about 61 dead.”(156) Mordehai Gihon, the intelligence officer, who visited the village at the request of Shaaltiel on April 9 at noon {A.I. – clearly not at noon according to Milstein himself!}: “I didn’t count the dead. I estimated that there were four cisterns ( or pits) full of bodies, and in each pit there were 20 bodies, and several tens more in the quarry. I throw out a number, 150.”(157) Yona Feitelsohn of the Shai visited Deir Yassin on the morning of April 10, saw 80 dead and reported to his commanders.(158) When the Gadna Commander Yehoshua Arieli returned from Deir Yassin, on April 13, he told he wife that he and his cadets had buried seventy bodies and blown up 40 (that is, 110 bodies).(159) In a newspaper interview in 1981, a villager Mohamed Aref Samir said,. “94 bodies were collected that day.”(160) Researchers from Bir-Zeit University interviewed Deir Yassin survivors and concluded that the number of dead was 110. (161) {inaccurate – A.I.}

It seems that the number of dead was indeed 110.

How were women, old people, children and men killed in Deir Yassin on April 9?

In a circular distributed by the Shai to senior Haganah commanders on April 18, 1948, it says, “As the first dead and wounded fell among the dissidents, confusion reigned in their ranks. Discipline was defective. Each little unit carried out the battle on its own. The conquest was carried out cruelly. Whole families were killed and bodies were piled one on top of the other.”(162) The words of eye-witnesses and other documents verify the findings of the Shai.

The question arises whether these people were killed during the battle or after the conquest of the village. Regarding a massacre after the fighting, there is but one testimony, that of Meir Pail. According to his testimony, Pail was in the village during the battle, and also after the conquest. He testified: “I saw groups of Etzel and Lehi people going from house to house and shooting with Tommy (guns) everyone they found in them. During the operation I did not sense any difference between the behavior of Etzel and Lehi people. I saw almost no men (Arabs) – I assume mose of them ran away at the beginning of the battle – but mostly women, old people and children. They were murdered in groups; they crowded them into corners of rooms and shot off rounds at them. During the noon hours they caught 15 or 20 men (in a newspaper interview Pail gave the number 25) who were unarmed when I saw them. They put them on a truck and drove off in the direction of Jerusalem. Afterward I heard that they drove the Arabs through the Jerusalem neighborhoods, in a sort of victory procession. There were excited cries. People in the crowd yelled, ‘Take ten pounds and let me kill one,’ but they didn’t do it. They returned these Arabs to the village and murdered them in the quarry between Givat Shaul and the village. I saw that with my own eyes in the afternoon.`The massacre in the village went on for several hours. Not one of the officers shouted out or prevented it… I shouted, I sought out the commanders, with the help of the Lehi member who had invited me. They asked him, ‘Who is this?’ and he answered ‘my friend from Palmach days.’ I yelled sharply, ‘Are you crazy? You are doing terrible things!’ and then one of the Lehi commanders answered, ‘it’s none of your business,’ and another asked me, ‘and what should we do with them?’ I said, ‘Transfer them to the Arab area.’”

“I don’t know if they themselves sobered up or perhaps my yelling influenced some of them; in any event I saw afterwards that they had gathered the children and women that remained in the school-building. They numbered about 250 or 300. I heard arguments, whether or not to blow up the building with everyone in it. Afterwards they drove all the people they had gathered to Jerusalem and transferred them to the Arab part of town. I got out of there. As I was leaving, I saw Etzel and Lehi people, with murderous expressions, leaving the village with chickens, sheep and other spoils.”(163)

Moshe Idelstein, who had been a Palmachnik and went over to Lehi, and of whom Pail had said that he was the person who called him to Deir Yassin, told this author (in the presence of Moshe Barzilai): “I didn’t invite Meir Pail, and he was not in Deir Yassin then.”(164) {A.I. – if Barzilai was present at the interview, Idelstein clearly would not let on that he had let in the spy!} Etzel and Lehi people interviewed by this author said that Pail was not at Deir Yassin, and that it was not likely that he was at Deir Yassin without their knowledge. Yehoshua Zettler, Mordehai Raanan, Moshe Barzilai, Yehuda Lapidot and Petachiah Zalivensky said they did not see Meir Pail at Deir Yassin.(165) Pail’s claim is not supported by testimony of Haganah people. The testimonies of David Shaltiel, Zalman Meret, Zion Eldad and Yeshurun Schiff do mention either his name or his nom de guerre (‘Avraham’ or ‘Ram’). Pail related a discussion he had with the Palmach troops at Deir Yassin. Moshe Eren and Mordehai Gihon,{A.I. -Gihon arrived as Pail was leaving} who knew Pail then,

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said that they did not see him at Deir Yassin.(166) Shlomo Havilov, who was commander of West Jerusalem, spent the night of April 9 in Givat Shaul. He said, “I didn’t see Meir Pail there. I knew him well. Had he been there, I would have remembered him.”(167) {A.I. – Pail did not spend either the night before, or the night after the battle in Givat Shaul}. Yehoshua Arieli as well, who oversaw the burial of the dead, said he did not see Meir Pail at Deir Yassin and of course did not talk to him, not about the number of corpses nor about anything else. (168) {A.I. – Pail got the numbers from Arieli’s report}.

On April 12 1948, the Shai reported: “seven old men and women were taken prisoner by the Etzel and transported in a truck for display in the city streets. Afterwards they were trasported to the quarries in Deir Yassin and murdered.”(169) Yitzhak Levi, who had been head of the Jerusalem Shai, wrote in 1971 to M.K. Begin,: “With the conquest of Deir Yassin, men, women and children were loaded on trucks and driven through the streets of Jerusalem. Afterwards most of them were returned to the village and most of them were shot with rifles and machine guns. That is the truth, and it is determined and written in the institutions of the state..”(170) In his book “Nine Measures”, Levi relied on Pail’s testimony.(171) The commander of Givat-Shaul, Yona Ben-Sasson claimed, on the other hand, that there was no massacre in the quarry: the dissidents indeed planned to kill Arabs, but he came to the quarry and warned them not to do it, and “prisoners were not shot in the quarry.”(172) Pail relates that he was accompanied by a man who photographed the massacre, and that he sent Yisrael Galili the films, together with the report, and that the pictures are preserved in the IDF archives. People of the archives {A.I. – not clear if these are official spokesmen or keepers} told this author that indeed there are photographs of bodies from Deir Yassin preserved in the archives, and that it is not possible to know from these photographs how the people were killed or when the photographs were taken.

A British team (police officers, a doctor and a nurse) interrogated Deir Yassin survivors in Silwan (kfar hashiloach). The head of the team, Richard C. Catling, the assistant inspector of the {mandatory} C.I.D wrote on Apri 15 1948: “There is no doubt that many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews. Many young school girls were raped and later slaughtered. Old women were also molested. One story is current concerning a case in which a young girl was literally torn in two. Many infants were also butchered. I saw an old lady who claimed she is 104, who was hit brutally on the head by rifle butts. Bracelets were ripped from arms and rings from fingers, parts of women’s ears were cut off in to remove earrings.” A woman from Deir Yassin told one of the investigators: “One man short a bullet in the neck of my sister Dalchiyeh, who was nine-months pregnant, and cut her belly with a buther’s knife.” Nana Halil, aged 16, related: “I saw a man take a sword and quickly cut our neighbor Jamil in half from head to toe. Then he did the same thing, on the steps of our house, to my uncle, Fatchi.”(173). These testimonies do not fit the testimony of Dr. Engel and the report of doctors Avigdori and Druyan, who examined the bodies at Deir Yassin and did not find evidence of molestation and rape. According to their findings, all of the dead died by shooting. {A.I. Gadna woman testified: “I went into one house and there was a woman there with a great smashed belly”}

Thirty three years later, the Jerusalem newspaper ‘Kol Ha-ir’ (on May 1, 1981) published the testimony of Mohamed Aref Samir, a survivor of Deir Yasin who had been in charge of professional and artistic education for the Jordanian government in Judea and Samaria until 1967.{Samir related the following}:

“At 3:00 AM the village was surrounded by Lehi and Etzel people. The village guards, who were armed with old hunting rifles, didn’t even manage to get off a warning shot. They were surprised to hear Hebrew voices at such an early hour. At about 4:00 A.M. shooting started at the eastern edge of the village. Many times (previously) a curfew had been imposed on the village, and when the British loudspeaker would call out at one end of the village, I could here it at the other end; moreover, a shout from Givat Shaul, even without a loudspeaker, would be clearly heard in our village. On the morning of that day we heard nothing. No loudspeaker and no shouts. We awoke to the sound of shots. The first victims were workers going out to work at an early hour. They were killed without hesitation. Afterwards they began bombarding with a light mortar, that hardly caused any damage. The continuation was in the houses.”

“From 5:00 A.M. until about 11:00 A.M. there was a systematic slaughter, with them going from house to house. From the eastern edge of the village nobody came out unhurt {clean}. Whole families were slaughtered. At 6:00 in the morning they caught 21 young people from the village, about 25 years old, they stood them in a row, near where the post-office is today, and executed them. Many women who watched this horrifying spectacle went crazy, and some are in institutions to this day. A pregnant woman, who was coming back with her son from the bakery, was murdered and her belly was smashed, after her son was killed before her eyes. In one of the conquered village houses a Bren machine gun was set up, which shot everyone who got in its line of fire. My cousin went out to see what happened to his uncle, who was shot a few minutes before, and he was killed too. His father, who went out after him, was murdered by the same Bren, and the mother, who came to find out what happened to her loved ones, died beside them. Aish eydan, who was a guard in Givat Shaul, came to see what was happening, and he was killed. They collected 94 bodies on that day. Nobody told us where they buried them and we did not ask. For believers the body is not important. Their spirit is still with us.”

“At about 11:00 A.M. people came with trucks and started to collect prisoners. Until 9:00 P.M. the prisoners were gathered in trucks

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in Givat Shaul, and from there they were taken to the Old City. You see, I sojourn in Kfar Ramon, in my magnificent house with the marble columns and rugs, but I still live in Deir Yassin. “

The family of Muhammed Aref and the family of his wife escaped from Deir Yassin to Ein Kerem, went through Malchah to the Old City, and from there they walked to Kfar Ramon.(174)

The findings show that most of the Arabs in Deir Yassin were killed not after the conquest, but during the battle. Most of them were killed in the houses when the attackers broke in or they were blown up. There were also other cases. In 1972 Raanan told a journalist: “At 11:00 AM we renewed the operation {supposedly after Hagana came – but Weg’s people came at noon}, . We blew up the first house. About every quarter of an hour we blew up another house. We had no idea who was in the houses. We treated each house as a fortified position. In this way we got to the house that was near where ‘Yiftach’ {A.I – Yehuda Segal – Commander} was lying. It turned out that he was dead. Not far from his body a young fighter holding a Bren machine gun in his hands took up a position We warned the inhabitants of the house that we were about to blow it up. And they, having seen what happened to the inhabitants of the other houses, came out to us with their hands up. There were nine people there, including a woman and a boy. The chap holding the Bren suddenly squeezed the trigger and held it. A round of shots hit the group of Arabs. While he was shooting he yelled “This is for Yiftach” {nom de guerre of Yehuda Segal}.’What have you done?’ we shouted at him. One of them was carrying a rifle {sic – not a concealed weapon, a rifle} and tried to shoot,’ he answered. Other fighters confirmed afterwards that indeed one of the Arabs was about to {text is defective in Hebrew – A.I.}.”(175)

Yisrael Natach, member of the Shai, and his partner {A.I– unnamed!} were sitting in a cafe in Ein Kerem that day, dressed as Arabs. This is Natach’s story: “Refugees arrives from Deir Yassin and related that the Jews found out that Arab warriors had disguised themselves as women. The Jews searched the women too. One of the people being checked noticed that he had been caught, took out a pistol and shot the Jewish commander. His friends, crazy with anger, shot in all directions and killed the Arabs in the area. I drew a picture of a Jewish soldier stabbing an Arab woman with a bayoneted rifle. I didn’t explain that he did not stab, and that the woman was a man. I submitted this drawing for publication in the newspapers, through the Arab headquarters in Jerusalem, with the addition of information, according to which in Deir Yassin 600 women, 500 men and 400 children were slaughtered. I exaggerated on purpose, to scare the Arabs. My cartoon was published in one of the Arab newspapers.”(176)


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