Remembering Deir Yassin 67 Years Later

Remembering Deir Yassin 67 Years Later

“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 knives.

“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.”

Jacques de Reynier, chief representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem’s report on the atrocities he witnessed just days after the Irgun Zvei Leumi, armed members of the Zionist terrorist organizations, the Irgun and the Stern gangs raided, slaughtered, injured and raped hundreds of the villagers of Deir Yassin, reads like a journal entry.

Despite being warned against entering the besieged village, even at the risk of danger to himself, the ICRC representative arranged with a Jewish nurse to make passage into Deir Yassin and within hours he was standing before armed Zionist forces- and the mutilated bodies of slaughtered Palestinian villagers.  Over one hundred of them.  Most of them were children, women and the elderly.

IWPS international volunteers stand in a breezy corridor of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Site in the area of “West” Jerusalem.  Marble blocks line up by the dozens, each marked with a candled lantern, to represent Jewish victims of Nazi occupation, displacement and massacre.  Just down a grass covered valley- in site of what the Yad Vashem web site calls its ‘safeguarding of the memory of the past’, dotted with stones, lies the unmarked space where, 67 years ago today, sleeping villagers were startled awake by the amplified voices of commandos of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin), warning them to evacuate their homes.  Just 15 minutes later they attacked.

Plan Dalet was now being executed.  And with unspeakable brutality.

“Just before the UN voted to partition Palestine in November 1947, Ben-Gurion secretly mobilised Jewish groups inside and outside Palestine and dispatched them to Europe to purchase massive quantities of arms for the next phase: the military plan to conquer as many Palestinian villages and to expel their inhabitants.

Their plan was called Plan D better known as Plan Dalet, (Dalet being the fourth letter in the Hebrew alphabet) which was launched nearly six weeks prior to the end of the British Mandate in Palestine. It is worth noting that Plan D had been preceeded by Plan A (February 1945), Plan B (May 1947) and Plan C (November 1947). There is no mistaking their intention: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Without marble grave markers, signs or even common knowledge that this unmarked field, which is highly juxtaposed by the dozens of Israeli flags, sprawling gardens, museum and solemn memorial just overlooking it, was a home for 700 Palestinians living in peace as families, as loved ones, as friends before a heinous systematic extermination took place; this is what is left of Deir Yassin.  This is the unmarked site, 67 years later, where visitors to Yad Vashem were interviewed by IWPS volunteers and asked two questions.  Why did you come to Yad Vashem today?  And can you tell us where Deir Yassin is?  The first question was easily answered.  The second received a series of gut wrenching replies, ranging from ‘never heard of it,’ to ‘that was a Palestinian thing right,? to, ‘oh, that was a settlement.’    From a Lake Geneva, NY Memorial plague, to those killed in Deir Yassin on April 9th, 1948, “Deir Yassin lies 3km west of the old city of Jerusalem and only 1,400 meters to the north of Yad Vashem, the most famous of all the Holocaust memorials.  The irony is breathtaking.”

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial site in West Jerusalem just overlooking the unmarked area of the Deir Yassin massacre.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial site in West Jerusalem just overlooking the unmarked area of the Deir Yassin massacre.


A portion of the land of the village of Deir Yassin, site of the massacre, rape and mutilation of hundreds of Palestinians.

Yad Vashem's many Israeli flags wave overlooking the land that was the sight of the village of Deir Yassin.

Yad Vashem’s many Israeli flags wave overlooking the land that was the sight of the village of Deir Yassin.

The children who were blown apart by bullets, the elders who were mutilated with knives, the women who were violently raped and then paraded through surrounding areas, the fifty-three orphaned children who were subsequently and literally dumped along the wall of the Old City; the Palestinian people of the village of Deir Yassin deserve the solemn remembrance that is being safeguarded within sight of their occupation, their displacement and their massacre.  This, as the wholesale occupation of Palestine rages on and on.

The Deir Yassin massacre was one event that lead to the exodus of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, villages and lands in 1948, commonly referred to as the Nakba.  The denial by neglect of  memorial of those slaughtered in Deir Yassin allows for the continued denial of the self determination of the Palestinian people as a whole.  If we are to learn anything from the remembrance of the tragedies of hatred and racism, it is that the acknowledgement of and resistance to its re occurrence not only honors its past victims, but refuses the creation of future ones.


The aftermath of the slaughter at Deir Yassin

The aftermath of the slaughter at Deir Yassin