Students for Palestine - University of Southampton

1948: Al Nakba (The Catasrophe)

From 1946 onwards the Zionists living in Palestine began to collect detailed information concerning Palestinian villages, for subsequent military use. Within two weeks of the adoption of the partition plan by the UN, Jewish military units began the process of ethnic cleansing. A month later the first Palestinian village was erased. Violence between the two groups gradually increased and as many as 70,000 Palestinians had fled their homes before full-scale military activity began in March 1948, when Plan D was fully implemented. Details of the Israeli atrocities indicate that they were as inhuman and violent as those that have been roundly condemned by the International Community in other conflicts. On April 9, 1948, Zionist forces that included the notorious Stern Gang and Irgun units entered the village of Deir Yassin and sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The survivors were then collected together and murdered in cold blood. The death toll included 30 babies. Between 100 and 200 Palestinians were murdered at Deir Yassin (the Irgun boasted of 256) and the village was razed to the ground. The scale of this operation was loudly (and proudly) proclaimed by the Zionists in order to demonstrate to other Paletinians just what would happen to them if they did not take flight.

Menachem Begin, head of the Irgun terrorist organization and later a Prime minister of Israel exulted: “As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere …Oh Lord, Oh Lord, you have chosen us for conquest”.

In other villages the inhabitants were allowed to leave their houses, but not to take their possessions with them, before their homes were blown up and their village flattened. There were many other brutal massacres, for example on May 22, 200 men between the ages of 13 and 30 were murdered in cold blood at Tantura. Haifa had 75,000 Palestinian civilian inhabitants against whom the Zionist forces used terrorist tactics — heavy shelling, detonation of crude bombs, igniting deliberately spilled oil, and sniper fire culminating in the deliberate shelling of civilians trying to escape by sea. The orders to the Jewish troops were, “Kill any Arab you see; torch all inflammable objects and force doors open with explosives.” The Zionist forces achieved their objective: about 60,000 Palestinians were driven out or killed, reducing the Arab population from 45% to just 4%.

This map shows the loss of Palestinian land to the Israeli occupation from 1946 to 2000

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