Deir Yassin
The Massacre and Remembrance

Fifty years ago, on 9 April 1948, the village of Deir Yassin in Palestine, situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem, was the site of one of the most notorious and horrific massacres committed against the Palestinian people. Several weeks prior to the end of the British Mandate in Palestine, Zionist terrorists from the Jewish Irgun and Stern gangs, with the backing of Palmach troops, descended upon Deir Yassin, occupying it and viciously attacking the inhabitants of the village. A total of 254 Palestinians, most of them women and children, were murdered by the terrorists and many of them had been burned, buried or thrown down the village wells. Those women and children who had survived the massacre were rounded up at dawn, loaded onto vehicles and paraded through Western Jerusalem, subjected to a hail of stones, curses and spitting by the Jewish crowds.

Although many Israelis have attempted to minimize or distort what took place on that day in Deir Yassin, many are on record about the atrocities committed. In his book, The Revolt, Menachem Begin, who at the time had been a commander of the Irgun Gang and who would later become a Prime Minister of Israel, referred to the Deir Yassin massacre as follows: "out of evil, however, good came." He also wrote: "The massacre was not only justified, but there would not have been a State of Israel without the ‘victory’ at Deir Yassin." In a publication entitled The Faithful City, a former Israeli military commander states that the Zionist gangs: "mounted a deliberate and unprovoked attack on the Arab village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem. There was no reason for the attack. It was a quiet village, which had denied entry to the volunteer Arab units from across the frontier and which had not been involved in any attacks on Jewish areas… It was a deliberate act of terrorism." In a secret press conference held after the massacre, the Irgun announced that Deir Yassin represented the beginning of the conquest of Palestine and Transjordan. Further, Jon Kimche, an author and correspondent who was in Jerusalem at the time, described the attack as "the darkest stain on the Jewish record throughout all the fighting."

The Deir Yassin massacre and the terror that seized the Palestinian people in its wake marked the beginning of the depopulation of over 400 Arab villages and the uprooting of approximately 750,000 Palestinians, nearly half of the Palestinian population, which marked the onset of the plight of the Palestine refugees.

As we remember Deir Yassin today, fifty years since the massacre, we are also reminded of other tragic and violent massacres that have befallen the Palestinian people over the decades, including Qibya in October 1953, Kafr Qassem in October 1956 and Sabra and Shatilla in September 1982. Since al-nakba, the Palestinian people have endured immeasurable loss and suffering in their continuing plight for the realization of their inalienable human rights. Such tragedies are an indelible part of our national identity and history.