Massacres committed. The massacre is defined here as “the killing of a group of civilians with intent”. M=Massacre, MM=Two massacres at different times e.g. at Sa’sa, M+ = big massacre, e.g. Ad Dawayima. Table-5 lists 35 reported massacres.

Table-5: List of Reported Massacres

S.No. AS No. M No. K No. Name(1) District Operation(3) Defenders(2) Date
1 466 5 7 Khisas al Safad     18-12-47
2 410 59 78 Mansurat al Khayt Safad     18-01-48
3 365 362 337 Dayr Yassin Jerusalem     08-04-48
4 491 97 119 Nasir ad Din K Tiberias     12-04-48
5       Hawwassa Haifa   ALA 25-04-48
6 494 - 109 Wa'ra al-Sawda al K Tiberias dk   18-04-48
7 145 36 51 Husayniyya Safad yh   21-04-48
8 287 144 123 Balad ash Sheikh Haifa d   25-04-48
9 429 53 82 Ayn az Zaytun Safad yh   02-05-48
10 216 318 408 Burayr Gaza bk   12-05-48
11 298 158 181 Khubbayza Haifa     12-05-48
12 46 246 299 Abu Shusha Al-Ramla bk   14-05-48
13 308 176 174 Tantoura al Haifa     21-05-48
14 466 5 7 Khisas al Safad yh   25-05-48
15 72 226 - Lydda Al-Ramla   AL 11-07-48
16 315 173 146 Tira al Haifa   16-07-48
17 317 167 153 Ijzim Haifa st   24-07-48
18 135 369   Beer Sheba Beer Sheba yr EG 21-10-48
19 476 45 64 Safsaf Safad hm ALA 29-10-48
20 332 324 407 Dawayima al Hebron yv EG 29-10-48
21 20 - 44 Samniyya al A K Acre hm   30-10-48
22 484 34 37 Saliha Safad hm   30-10-48
23 482 60 53 Sa'sa Safad hm   30-10-48
24 28     Eilaboun Tiberias hm ALA 29-10-48
25 29     Jish Safad hm ALA 29-10-48
26 30     Majd al Kurum Acre hm ALA 29-10-48
27 355 213 254 Abbasiyya al Jaffa dn   13-12-47
28 64 265 322 Qazaza Al-Ramla af   19-12-47, 09-07-48
29 215 282 367 Bayt Daras Gaza     21-05-48
30 246 281 315 Isdud Gaza yy/hh EG 31-08-48
31 261 177 204 Qisarya Haifa     15-02-48
32 7 81 55 Kabri al Acre ba ALA 21-05-48
33 286 172   Haifa Haifa     21-04-48
34 262 146 205 Wadi 'Ara Haifa   ALA 27-02-48
35       Ilut Nazareth dk   17-7-48
Symbols: (1) K=Khirbet, A= Arab; (2) AL= Arab Legion (Trans-Jordan), ALA= Arab Liberation Army, EG= Egypt. no entry= local villagers if applicable. (3) See list for Israeli operations (Table 4).

This list excludes the following:

  • wanton killing of individual civilians.
  • mass killing of civilians during air-raids, especially in Oct-Nov 1948.
  • killing of prisoners of war.
  • massacres committed immediately after 1948, e.g. against Azazema and Ataiqa (at Argoub) in Beer Sheba.

Seventeen massacres were committed during the British Mandate (Plan Dalet), 16 thereafter. Massacres were concurrent with Israeli operations: 3 during Yiftach in April, 7 during Hiram in October (to occupy Galilee).The north has been hit worst (23 massacres) because many Galilee villages refused to leave,while 5 were in the centre and 5 in the south.

New evidence, revealed by Yitzhaki and Milstein, indicates that atrocities were committed in ‘almost every conquered village’ and that 10 major and more than 100 smaller massacres were committed. There is now overwhelming evidence that massacres were used as a weapon of total war against the Palestinians. The following is a brief description of some of these massacres.

  • Testimony by Israeli historian, Aryeh Yitzhaki Lecturer in Bar Ilan University, Faculty of Eretz Israel Studies. Senior lecturer in military history, IDF. He collected evidence about massacres. “In almost every conquered village in the ‘War of Independence’, acts were committed, which are defined as war crimes, such as indiscriminate killing, massacres and rape”. “There are 10 major massacres (over 50 victims each), 100 smaller massacres with enormous impact on the Arabs”. “Me’ir Pa’il (Israeli military historian) does not consider such as massacres”.
  • Israeli historian, Uri Milstein corroborates above. “Even before the establishment of the State, each battle ended with a massacre”.
  • Dayr Yassin, On Friday 9 April 1948 Deir Yassin was the scene of an unprovoked and premeditated massacre which has since symbolized the inhumanity and savagery of political Zionism.
    Armed with explosives and machine guns provided by the terrorist Stern and Irgun Gangs, a combined force of over 120 men attacked the sleeping village at 4.30 in the morning in what was then code-named “Operation Unity”. It was so called to demonstrate the unity between the official Zionist leadership on the one hand and the two terrorist groups on the other. Within a matter of hours, the Zionist terrorists murdered 120 (some say 254) Palestinians. They blew up more than fifteen houses with explosives.
  • Lydda by Guy Erlich, Ha’ir, 6 May 1992: “Moshe Kalman, Palmach’s 3rd Battalion commander gave an order to shoot the people who sought refuge in the mosque. They were shot against the wall. Twenty to fifty were brought to clean the mosque and bury the remains. They themselves were ordered to dig graves in which they were shot”.
    [Nimr Al Khatib: 1,700 casualties; Aref Al Aref: 170 prisoners in mosque were killed.] [IDF report: casualties 40: 11 July and 250, 12 July.] [Moshe Dayan: 89th Battalion commander].
    Sixty thousand people were expelled on orders of Rabin. Three hundred and fifty lost their life on the way, through dehydration in July (also Ramadan). Those who find water were shot by Israelis.Many had to drink their urine.
  • Tel Gezer (Abu Shusha) by Yitzhaki A soldier of Kiryati Brigade captured 10 men and 2 women. All were killed except a young woman who was raped and disposed of. (Testimony from Kheil Mishmar (Guard units), IDF files).
    At the dawn of 14 May, units of Giv’ati brigade assaulted Abu Shusha village. Fleeing villagers were shot on sight. Others were killed in the streets or axed to death. Some were lined up against a wall and executed. No men were left; women had to bury the dead. Four hours later, the state of Israel was proclaimed.
  • Ashdod by Yitzhaki An Israeli plane crashed and the Arabs killed eight passengers. Giv’ati soldiers in jeeps collected fellahin and shot them (at least 10). This was in the end of August by Giv’ati Brigade in Mivtza Nikayon (cleansing operation).
  • Ayn Zaytoon by Uri Milstein A soldier named Aharon Yo’eli: “3 Israelis came from Safad and took 23 men from Ayn Zaytoon, stripped them of watches and wallets, took them to a hill and shot them. Israelis were looking for other Israelis to kill Arabs; many Jews in Safad were Hassidis (strictly observant). Other Arabs were expelled towards Germak mountain”.
  • Har Kna’an/Rosh Pina by Uri Milstein A soldier named Yitzhak Golan: “The Intelligence Unit told us they were finished with the Arabs (after interrogation). We were told to take them to Rosh Pina. On the way we were afraid they would escape, so we shot them. It is possible they were killed while being chained! Next morning a platoon was sent to bury them”.
  • Caesaria by Uri Milstein In February 1948, the 4th Batallion of the Palmach, under the command of Josef Tabenkin, conquered Caesaria. All those who did not escape were killed, according to testimony collected by Milstein from Battalion members.
  • Wadi `Ara area, near Giv’at Ada A member of Kibbutz Be’eri, assigned to the Guard Milices testified: “We were in Wadi 'Ara. We raided a nearby Palestinian post and brought a prisoner for interrogation. A soldier beheaded him and scalped his head by knife. He raised the head on a pole to strike fear among Palestinians. Nobody stopped him”.
  • Al Kabri by Dov Yirmiya, company commander in 21st battalion of Karmeli Brigade. “On 20 May 1948, we conquered Kabri without a fight. Almost all inhabitants fled (expelled?). One soldier, Yehuda Reshef, got hold of about seven youngsters who did not flee and ordered them to fill up some ditches, then lined them and shot them with a machine gun. Reshef was a brave soldier who rose to be Brigadier General”.
  • The North towards Nahariya by Yehuda Reshef “When the action ended, the batallion commander Dov Tchitchiss, ‘Education’ Officer Tzadok Eshel, the driver and myself, drove towards Nahariya.On the way we saw refugees escaping to the North.One of them was escaping with his daughter, an eight year old girl. The commander stopped the car, and went with the Education Officer and the driver.I heard shots.The commander returned and said “we killed them”. I asked “All and the girl?”“No, not the girl”, he said”.
  • Beer Sheba by Habib Jarada “On the evening of 20 October 1948, the Jews attacked us first from the south-west. But the main attack, with much superior weapons to ours, came from the North. We fought for 6 hours without new supplies. Anwar Al-Alami was on the wireless calling the Egyptian commander and Arab states for help. No one came. The city fell 8:00 am on 21 October.
    The Palmach entered the town and started shooting the people in the street, no mercy for children or women. Others were held captive in the Government house. I was hiding in a shelter in the north of the city with 15 others. When we were discovered, they machine-gunned us.
    Next to me, my grandfather, my cousin and Sheikh Ali Bseiso were killed instantly. Also four others were killed including a mother whose 2 children sat crying next to their mother. I was shot in the leg and miraculously escaped. They collected young men in the mosque. In the morning they discovered that one escaped. They took the two young men next to him and starting hitting their heads with hammers till they died”.
  • Safsaf based on Yosef Nahmani, JNF-Galileeas reported by Morris, JPS. “The inhabitants had raised a white flag. The (Israeli) soldiers collected them and separated men and women, tied the hands of 50-60 fellahin, shot and killed them in a pit. Also, they raped several women”.
  • Saliha Same as Safsaf, but the victims were 60-70.
  • Abbasiya (Yehudiyah) On 13 December 1947, Israelis, disguised as British soldiers came to calm the villages after the Jews killed 12 Palestinians the day before. They came in 4 cars, stepped out in front of the local café and sprayed it with bullets from machine guns. Others tossed grenades and blew up Arab homes. Seven civilians were killed, before a real British patrol saved the village.
  • Al Khisas On 18 December 1947, two carloads of Haganah terrorists drove through the village, firing machine guns and throwing grenades. Ten civilians were killed.
  • Qazaza On 19 December 1947, Jewish terrorists blew up houses including the Mukhtar’s house killing 5 children.
  • Balad El Sheikh On 1 January 1948, two hundred Jewish terrorists attacked the village from the south, with machine guns and grenades, killing 40 women and children inside their homes.
  • Nasser El-Din On 13/14 April 1948, a contingent of Lehi and Irgun terrorists entered the village dressed as Arab fighters. When people went to greet them, the terrorists killed every single one. All houses were rased to the ground. Only 3 dozen people survived from the village.
  • Beit Daras On 21 May 1948, the Zionist attacked the village after many failed attempts. The villagers decided to evacuate women and children. While moving out, they were met by Jewish soldiers who massacred them, although it was plain they were women and children fleeing the fighting.
  • Dawayma by B. Morris based on a soldier’s testimony. On 29 October 1948, Israelis killed at least 80-100 men, women and children. (The Mukhtar listed 500). They fractured children’s head with sticks. No home was left without corpses. Some were killed in the mosque or hiding in a cave. One commander ordered two women to enter a house before blowing it up. The massacre was perpetrated by the 89th Battalion.
  • Houla (Lebanon) On October 31, 1948, Jewish soldiers dressed in Arab dress entered the village. They were greeted with cheers. They rounded up 85 people, detained them in a number of houses and fired at them killing all but three. Then they blew the houses with corpses inside.
  • Al Tira (Haifa) On 12 December 1947, the terrorist Irgun gang, dressed in British uniform, killed 12 Arabs and wounded 5.
    From UN Truce Observers records.
    On 25 July 1948, 60-80 old people from Tira were taken in buses to be expelled towards Jenin. At Lajjun, they were rounded up in a circle, petrol was sprayed on them (they asked for water to drink at end of a Ramadan day). They were set on fire. They were screaming and crying for help. The Jewish soldiers were laughing. Fifty five people died.
  • Tantura Testimony of Marwan Iqab Al-Yihiya, reported by Mohamed Nimr Al Khatib, in his book, “Al Nakba Events”, 1951. The story was “discovered” by Israeli researcher, Theodore Katz and reported by Reuters and Ma’ariv on 19.1.2000.
    “At midnight of 23 May 1948, the Jews attacked the village from 3 sides. The people resisted till dawn. In the morning, the corpses were strewn about in the streets. The Jews gathered women and children to see a heap of dead bodies of their relatives. Men were gathered in another place. First they selected 40 young men, took them in groups of 4, shot them and ordered the next group to carry them to a pit by the cemetery and so on. Shooting went on all day. As my turn came, they ordered us to board a truck to Umm Khalid (Netanya). We were about 300. We were packed in a cellar for 15 days not seeing the light of day, then were moved to Ijlil labour camp where we had to transport the stones of the Arab houses they demolished, all day with little food. We stayed there 5 months, then moved to another camp where people from Lydda and Ramleh were held captive. There each group was put in a cage. Then we were moved to Atlit. After a few more months I was set free”. Victims of this massacre are estimated to exceed 200.
  • Bernadotte On 18 September 1948, the Irgun gang assassinated Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN mediator. He was about to propose a “peace” plan, calling for the return of the refugees. Yitzak Shamir, later a prime minister of Israel, was one of the murderers.
  • Al Arqoub (near Beer Sheba) by Suleiman Ataiqa and Ibrahim Abu El-Latif.
    In December 1948, Israeli patrol attacked bedouin village near Kuhla, south east of Rahat. They collected people in a house and shot 14 people dead. Israelis went to fetch petrol to burn the corpses. The people took the dead away to bury them. They were afraid to talk about this massacre for years for fear of reprisals.
  • Unit 101 During WWII, the Nazis established unit 101 which is dedicated to slaughtering the Jews.
    After 1948, a similar unit (101) under the leadership of Ariel Sharon was established. It committed many massacres, including those at al Azazema, Qibiya, Bureij refugee camp and Nehhalin. They were allowed to dress in civilian clothes, drink cognac on patrol and consume any amount of ammunition. The unit, says Gideon Spiro of Paratroopers’ 89th Battalion, “was an early, more primitive prototype for more sophisticated liquidation units–Duvdevan and Shimshon (established during Intifada). Lots of killing of civilians, little real combat”.