"The early history of the State of Israel is not unique. Other countries have chapters in their history of which they should be deeply ashamed. And it must also be stated that [Benny] Morris's shocking revelations of death and destruction deliberately inflicted on the Arabs of Palestine do not justify Palestinian terrorism against Israel's civilian population.
But Morris's account points to the sorry fact that there is not much that distinguishes how Jews behaved in 1948 in their struggle to achieve statehood from Palestinian behavior today. At the very least, this sobering truth should lead to a shedding of the moral smugness of too many Israelis and to a reexamination of their demonization of the Palestinian national cause."
-- Israel: The Threat from Within; by Henry Siegman, senior fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Photo, top: Mementoes from the home of the Zaghmout family, in the depopulated Palestinian village of Safsaf, northern Israel.
At least 56, and as many as 70, Palestinian civilians were shot dead, and their bodies dumped into a pit, by Israeli soldiers who captured the village of Safsaf on 29 October 1948.
Umm Shahadah al-Salih, a Palestinian eyewitness to the massacre, recalled: "As we lined up, a few Jewish soldiers ordered four girls to accompany them to carry water for the soldiers. Instead, they took them to our empty houses and raped them. About 70 of our men were blindfolded and shot to death, one after the other, in front of us. The soldiers took their bodies and threw them on the cement covering of the village's spring and dumped sand on them...." [link]
In his diary, Yosef Nahmani (a senior officer in the Haganah and director of the Jewish National Fund in Eastern Galilee) noted that: "In Safsaf, after ... the inhabitants had raised a white flag, they [soldiers] collected and separated the men and women, tied the hands of fifty-sixty fellahin [peasants] and shot and killed them and buried them in a pit. Also, they raped several women..." and wondered: "Is there no more humane way of expelling the inhabitants than by such methods?"[link]
The victims of the massacre at Safsaf included eleven men of the Zaghmout family.
Photo, bottom: The memorial to the victims of the Kafr Qasim Massacre. On 29 October 1956, as Israel launched its attack on the Suez Canal Zone in concert with France and the U.K., Israeli Border police sealed off six Palestinian villages abutting Israel's border with the Jordanian-occupied West Bank. One of the villages was Kafr Qasim, where Border Police declared the village under curfew. About 400 residents were working the fields outside the village, and were unaware of the sudden curfew. As the first of them began to return from the fields that evening, they were stopped at the police checkpoints established at three of the entrances to the village, and executed at the side of the road.
The commander of the Israeli Border Police unit that carried out the killings was subsequently put on trial, found guilty of an "administrative error", and fined one penny. His subordinates were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but swiftly pardoned and released.
In 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed regret for an unspecified "very serious event" that had happened at Kfar Qasim, but failed to acknowledge that the "event" in question was actually the execution of 48 Palestinian civilians, including 23 children, by Israel's Border Police.
Both photos are courtesy of Palestine Remembered, and should not be reproduced without creditting that site.