Massacre at al-Dawayima

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Event #253 Massacre at al-Dawayima
Date: Thursday, 28 Oct 1948
100-200 villagers in al-Dawayima (also transliterated as al-Dawayma, Duwayma, Ed-Dawayimeh), near Hebron, killed by Israeli army.

"Ben-Gurion, quoting General Avner, briefly referred in his war diary to the 'rumours' that the army had 'slaughtered 70-80 persons.' What happened was described a few days later by an Israeli soldier-witness to a Mapam member, who transmitted the information to Eliezer Pra'i, the editor of the party daily Al Hamishmar and a member of the party's Central Committee. The party member, S. (possibly Shabtai) Kaplan, described the witness as 'one of our people, an intellectual, 100 percent reliable.' The village, wrote Kaplan, had been held by Arab 'irregulars' and was captured by the 89th Battalion (8th Brigade) without a fight. 'The first [wave] of conquerors killed about 80 to 100 [male] Arabs, women, and children. The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead,' wrote Kaplan. Kaplan's informant, who arrived immediately afterwards in the second wave, reported that Arab men and women who remained were then closed off in their houses 'without food or water.' Sappers arrived to blow up the houses. 'One commander ordered a sapper to put two old women in a certain house ... and to blow up the house with them. The sapper refused ... The commander then ordered his men to put in the old women and the evil deed was done. One soldier boasted that he had raped a woman and then shot her. One woman, with a newborn baby in her arms, was employed to clean the courtyard where the soldiers ate. She worked a day or two. In the end they shot her and her baby.' The soldier-witness, according to Kaplan, said that 'cultured officers ... had turned into base murderers and this not in the heat of battle ... but out of a system of expulsion and destruction. The less Arabs remained--the better. This principle is the political motor for the expulsions and the atrocities.'"

Source: Morris, Birth, pp. 222-223. The letter from Kaplan to Pra'i is dated November 8, 1948, and found in Kibbutz Meuhad Archives, Aharon Zisling Papers, 6/6/4.

David Gilmour, Dispossessed: The Ordeal of the Palestinians 1917-1980, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1980, pp. 68-69, quotes much of this same letter. His citation is: Letters of 8 November 1948. Quoted in Eyal Kafkafi, "A Ghetto Attitude in the Jewish State," Davar [Israeli newspaper], September 6, 1979.

Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: Pantheon, 1987, p. 94, says that the Dawayma massacre was "revealed by the Israeli journalist Yoela Har-Shefi in 1984." Flapan's citation is: Nimrod, Al-Hamishmar, April 10, 1985.

"Another publicized massacre of which the author [Hadawi is speaking of himself] personally became aware in 1951 in the course of his official duties with the Jordan government occurred in the village of Ed-Dawayimeh, in the Hebron Sub-District. There, about 200 persons--mostly aged inhabitants who could not run away--took refuge in the village mosque, and when the Israelis entered the village, they massacred the entire crowd.

Many of the reports that the author inspected at the police station in Hebron gave the ages of the victims as between 70 and 90 years. ..."

Source: Hadawi, Bitter Harvest, p. 89.


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