On the night of April 9, 1948, the Jewish terrorist organization Irgun Zvai Leumi
surrounded the village of Deir Yasin, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem . After
giving the sleeping residents a 15 minute warning to evacuated, which was apparently
a ruse to get them out of their houses, Menachem Begin's thugs attacked the village
of 700 people, killing 254 mostly old men, women and children and wounding 300 others.
Begin's terrorists tossed many of the bodies in the village well, and paraded 150
captured women and children through the Jewish sectors of Jerusalem.
The Haganah and the Jewish Agency did all they could to prevent the Red Cross from
investigating the attack. It wasn't until three days after the attack that the Zionist
armies permitted Jacques de Reynier, chief representative of the International Committee
of the Red Cross in Jerusalem , to visit the village by the surrounding Zionist armies.
Ironically, the Deir Yasin villagers had signed a non aggression pact with the leaders
of the adjacent Jewish Quarter, Giv'at Shaul and had even refused military personnel
from the Arab Liberation Army from using the village as a base.
Jacques de Reynier statement Chief representative of the International Committee of
the Red Cross
"On Saturday, April 10, in the afternoon, I received a telephone call from the Arabs
begging me to go at once to Deir Yasin where the civilian population of the whole
village has just been massacred.
"I learned that the Irgun extremists hold this sector, situated near Jerusalem. The
Jewish Agency and the Haganah's General Headquarters say that they know nothing about
this matter and furthermore it is impossible for anyone to penetrate an Irgun area.
"They advise me that I not become involved in this matter as my mission will run
the risk of being permanently cut short if I go there. Not only can they not help
me but they also refuse all responsibility for what will certainly happen to me.
I answer that I intend to go there at once, that the notorious Jewish Agency exercises
its authority over the territory in Jewish hands and that the agency is responsible
for my freedom of action within the bounds of my mission.
"In fact, I do not know at all how to do it. Without Jewish support it is impossible
to reach that village. After thinking I suddenly remember that a Jewish nurse from
a hospital here had made me take her telephone number, saying with a strange look
that if I ever were in a difficult situation I could call her. On a chance I call
her late in the evening and tell her the situation. She tells me to be in a predetermined
location the following day at 7 o'clock and to take in my car the person who will
"The next day on the hour and in the location upon which we agreed, an individual
in civilian clothes, but with pistols stuffed in his pockets, jumps into my car and
tells me to drive without stopping. At my request, he agrees to show me the road
to Deir Yasin, but he admits not being able to do to much more for me. We drive out
of Jerusalem , leave the main road and the last regular army post and we turn in
on a cross road. Very soon two soldiers stop us. They look alarming with machine
guns in full view and larger cutlasses at the belt. We go to Deir Yasin.
"Having reached a ridge 500 meters from the village which we see below, we must wait
a long time for permission to go ahead. The shooting from the Arab side starts every
time somebody tries to cross the road and the Commander of the Irgun detachment does
not seem willing to relieve me. Finally he arrives, young, distinguished, perfectly
correct, but his eyes have a strange, cruel, cold look. I explain my mission to him
which has nothing in common with that of a judge or arbiter. I want to help the wounded
and bring back the dead.
"Moreover, the Jews have signed a pledge to respect the Geneva Convention and my
mission is therefore an official one. This last statement provokes the anger of this
officer who asks me to consider once and for all that here it is the Irgun who are
in command and nobody else, not even the Jewish Agency with which they have nothing
"My (guide) hearing the raised voices intervenes ... Suddenly the officer tells me
I can act as I see fit but on my own responsibility. He tells me the story of this
village populated by about 400 Arabs, disarmed since always and living on good terms
with the Jews who encircled them. According to him, the Irgun arrived 24 hours previously
and ordered by loudspeaker the whole population to evacuate all the buildings and
surrender. There is a 15 minute delay in the execution of the command. Some of the
unhappy people came forward and would have been taken prisoners and then turned loose
shortly afterwards toward the Arab lines. The rest did not obey the order and suffered
the fate they deserved. But one must not exaggerate for there are only a few dead
who would be buried as soon as the `clean up' of the village is over. If I find a
bodies, I can take them with me, but there are certainly no wounded.
"This tale gives me cold chills. "I return to Jerusalem to find an ambulance and
a truck that I had alerted through the Red Shield ... I arrive with my convoy in
the village and the Arab fire ceases. The (Jewish) troops are in campaign uniforms
with helmets. All the young people and even the adolescents, men and women, are armed
to their teeth: pistols, machine guns, grenades, and also big cutlasses, most of
them still bloody, that they hold in their hands. A young girl with the eyes of a
criminal, shows me hers still dripping. She carries it around like a trophy. This
is the 'clean up' team which certainly has accomplished its job very conscientiously.
"I try to enter a building. About 10 soldiers surround me with machine guns aimed
at me. An officer forbids me to move from the spot. They are going to bring the dead
that are there, he says. I then get as furious as ever before in my life and tell
these criminals what I think about the way they act, menacing them with the thunder
I can muster, then I roughly push aside those who surround me and enter the building.
"The first room is dark, completely in disorder, and empty. In the second, I find
among smashed furniture covers and all sorts of debris, some cold bodies. There they
have been cleaned up by machine guns then by grenades. They have been finished by
"It is the same thing in the next room, but just as I am leaving, I hear something
like a sigh. I search everywhere, move some bodies and finally find a small foot
which is still warm. It is a little 10 year old girl, very injured by grenade, but
still alive. I want to take her with me but the officer forbids it and blocks the
door. I push him aside and leave with my precious cargo protected by the brave (guide).
"The loaded ambulances leaves with orders to return as soon as possible. And because
these troops have not dared to attack me directly, it is possible to continue.
"I give orders to load the bodies from this house on the truck. Then I go on to the
neighboring house and go on. Everywhere I encounter the same terrible sight. I only
find two persons still alive, two women, one of whom is an old grandmother, hidden
behind the firewood where she kept immobile for at least 24 hours.
"There were 400 persons in the village. About 50 had fled, three are still alive,
but the rest have been massacred on orders, for as I have noticed, this troop is
admirably disciplined and acts only on command.
De Reynier continues that he returns to Jerusalem where he confronts the Jewish Agency
and scolds them for not exercising control over the 150 armed men and women responsible
for the massacre.
"I then go to see the Arabs. I say nothing about what I have seen, but only that
after a first quick visit to the spot there seems to be several dead and I ask what
I shall do or where to bring them ... they ask me to see that a suitable burial be
given them in a place which will be recognizable later on. I pledge to do so and
on my return to Deir Yasin, I find the Irgun people in a very bad mood. They try
to stop me from approaching the village and I understand when I see the number and
above all the state of the bodies which have been lined up on the main street. I
demand firmly that they proceed with the burial and insist on helping them. After
some discussion, they begin actually to scoop out a big grave in a small garden.
It is impossible to verify the identity of the dead, for they have no papers, but
I wrote accurately their descriptions with approximate age.
"Two days later, the Irgun had disappeared from the spot and the Haganah had taken
possession. We have discovered different places where the bodies have been piled
up without either decency or respect in the open air.
"Back in my office I received two gentleman in civilian clothes, very well dressed
who had waited for more than one hour. It is the commander of the Irgun detachment
and his aide. They have prepared a text they ask me to sign. It is a statement according
to which I have been received courteously by them, which I have obtained all the
help needed to accomplish my mission and I thank them for the aide they gave me.
"As I hesitate, I begin to discuss the statement, and they tell me that if I care
for my life I should sign immediately."
Calling the statement contrary to fact, de Reynier refuses to sign. Several days
later in Tel Aviv, de Reynier says he approached by the same two men who ask the
ICRC to assist some of their Irgun soldiers.
Former Haganah officer, Col. Meir Pa'el, upon his retirement from the Israeli army
in 1972, made the following public statement about Deir Yasin that was published
by Yediot Ahronot (April 4, 1972):
"In the exchange that followed four [Irgun] men were killed and a dozen were wounded
... by noon time the battle was over and the shooting had ceased. Although there
was calm, the village had not yet surrendered. The Irgun and LEHI men came out of
hiding and began to `clean' the houses. They shot whoever they saw, women and children
included, the commanders did not try to stop the massacre ....
"I pleaded with the commander to order his men to cease fire, but to no avail. In
the meantime, 25 Arabs had been loaded on a truck and driven through Mahne Yehuda
and Zichron Yousef (like prisoners in a Roman `March of Triumph'). At the end of
the drive, they were taken to the quarry between Deir Yasin and Giv'at Shaul, and
murdered in cold blood ... The commanders also declined when asked to take their
men and bury the 254 Arab bodies. This unpleasant task was performed by two Gadna
units brought to the village from Jerusalem."
Zvi Ankori, who commanded the Haganah unit that occupied Deir Yasin after the massacre,
gave this statement in 1982 about the massacre, published by Davar on April 9, 1982:
"I went into 6 to 7 houses. I saw cut off genitalia and women's crushed stomachs.
According to the shooting signs on the bodies, it was direct murder."
Dov Joseph, one time Governor of the Israel sector of Jerusalem and later Minister
of Justice, called the Deir Yasin massacre "deliberate and unprovoked attack."
Arnold Toynbee described it as comparable to crimes committed against the Jews by
Menachem Begin said "The massacre was not only justified, but there would not have
been a state of Israel without the victory at Deir Yasin." Unashamed of their deed
and unaffected by world condemnation, the Zionist forces, using loud-speakers, roamed
the streets of cities warning Arab inhabitants "The Jericho road is still open,"
they told Jerusalem Arabs "Fly from Jerusalem before you are killed, like those in