Deir Yassin -- Meir Pail's Eyewitness Account

Article/book #: 831
Title: Deir Yassin -- Meir Pail's Eyewitness Account
By: Meir Pa’il   Ami Isseroff  
Date of issue: Thursday, 1 October 1998
Topic(s) addressed: Timeline event(s) mentioned in this item:
   09 Apr 1948
to 11 Apr 1948
Massacre at Deir Yasin

Commentary (by JB):

This article is based on an interview conducted October 1, 1998 by Dr. Ami Isseroff at the Yad Tabenkin Institute of the United Kibbutz Movement Seminar in Ramat Efal Israel. Various Zionists have cast doubt on Pail's version of the Deir Yassin massacre but a letter testifying to its authenticity was written by Yisrael Galili, former head of the Haganah.

I was born in Jerusalem. My family moved to Holon in 1936 when I was ten years old. I joined the Palmach in 1943 after graduating from high school. In the Palmach, I participated in numerous operations including the bombing of the B’not Ya’akov Bridge (on the ‘night of the bridges’) and in illegal immigration. ... Some days before the attack on Deir Yassin it was decided to disband my unit and I was awaiting reassignment. In his book Milstein (Uri Milstein, The War of Independence, Vol. IV) wrote that I was supposed to be in charge of the military police, but that wasn’t true. However, I know that Shaltiel might have entertained the idea. He was a very strange sort of fellow; a German Jew of Sephardi origin, he had been in the French Foreign Legion and had been well educated. Few people in the Palmach got along with him, but I did. We had many chats. One time he said that we should have a state like Plato’s Republic, in which guardsmen played an important part. He said that a fellow like me, a good Palmachnik, would be suitable to be commander of the military police they were setting up in Jerusalem. I said, in Yiddish, "Go on, forget it." Deir Yassin was a quiet village, that had a pact with us that had been approved by Yitzhak Navon, then Head of the Arab section of the Haganah Jerusalem Intelligence Service and later President of Israel. The people of Deir Yassin had kept to the pact. The Mukhtar’s son had even been killed fighting off an attempt to bring in foreign Arab troops.

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