Monday, 9 April 2007

Remembering Deir Yassin

"Never again shall we forget:

Len nensaa!
Len nensaa!"

(From the poem Never Again Shall We Forget
"Len Nensaa"
By Randa Hamwi Duwaji)

On April 9th, 1948, Jewish terrorist group the Irgun, led by a man who was to become Prime Minister of Israel in 1977, Menachem Begin, entered into the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin and proceeded to systematically rape, mutilate and murder 250 men, women and children. The Irgun was joined by two other terrorist groups, the Stern Gang and the Hagannah, the former led by Yitzhak Shamir and the latter by David Ben Gurion. Both these men would also go on to become Israeli Prime Ministers, Ben Gurion in 1949 amd Shamir in 1983 when he succeeded Begin.

Deir Yassin was strategically situated on a hill top in a corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Its inhabitants were primarily stonecutters and they had been in the area for 700 years. On that April 9th, 59 years ago, the innocent people of that village were attacked and brutally slaughtered. Some survivors of the original attack were paraded down a street and then executed. It was a calculated event and part of a wider plan to terrorise Palestinians and expel them from their lands in order to repopulate them with new Jewish immigrants. The carnage was widely publicised by the terrorists and bodies were heaped and displayed to the media. Survivors were also deliberately left so that they could recount the horrors. Speaker trucks went around nearby villages and towns warning that if the people did not leave then they would suffer the same fate as Deir Yassin. And many others did as places such as Lydda, Ramle and al-Dawazyma witnessed massacres. The strategy worked, as the fear of being murdered led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing. UN estimates, which many argue are extremely conservative put the figure at 750 000. Today, those refugees and their descendants number around 4.5 million and comprise the largest and longest standing refugee population in the world. To this must be added the further 300 000 refugees created by Israel’s 1967 War and occupation and their descendants.

Up to this day, it is not known exactly where the victims of the Deir Yassin massacre were buried although some survivors speak of the bodies being thrown into wells and quarries. In the days following, orphaned children were gathered up and left at Jaffe Gate by the terrorists. One woman, Hind Husseini, took in 55 children. The site of her orphanage is now the site of one of the largest schools in Jerusalem. As for Deir Yassin, whose people were ethnically cleansed and driven from their land, its original structures still remain, but it has been wiped off the map and is now an Orthodox Jewish colony called Giv'at Sha'ul Bet.

Earth-torn roots yearning
Palestine Landscape mourning
Displaced descendants

The words of Randa Hamwi Duwaji inscribed on the Deir Yassin memorial in
Geneva, New York

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