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67 years later, Deir Yassin still bleeding wound for Palestinians

April 9, 2015 5:51 P.M. (Updated: April 9, 2016 10:15 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians on Thursday marked the 67th anniversary of the massacre of more than 100 Palestinian civilians by Zionist forces at the village of Deir Yassin.

"The Deir Yassin massacre was a turning point in the history of the people of Palestine, and it continues to serve as a necessary reminder of Israel’s ongoing policies of displacement, dispossession and dehumanization, and its willful erasure of the Palestinian narrative and human presence in historical Palestine," senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

Ashrawi noted that the massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of Israeli military attacks on Palestinian civilians, noting: "Deir Yassin, Nasir al-Din, Haifa, Yazur, Bayt Daras, al-Tantura, al-Lydd, al-Dawayima, Saliha, Qibya, Kafr Qasim, and Shuja'iyya, among other names, will remain forever engraved in our hearts and minds and always serve as symbols of Palestinian steadfastness and perseverance."

"Peace and justice for Palestine is long overdue, and it is time for the international community to join us as we strive for freedom, dignity and self-determination," she said.

Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem. The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254.

The attack was part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups to scare Palestinians into flight ahead of the expected partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It was led by the Irgun group, whose head was future prime minister Menachem Begin, with support from the Haganah and Lehi.

In order to ensure only Jews were left in the "Jewish state" -- nearly half of whose inhabitants were Palestinians -- massacres were committed by these Zionist groups in a number of villages in the hope that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus.

Thus the attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before Partition took place, and was part of the reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine.

The combination of forced expulsion and flight that the massacres -- most prominent among them Deir Yassin -- precipitated left around 750,000 Palestinians as refugees abroad. Today their descendants number more than five million, and their right to return to Palestine is a central political demand.

The Palestine Liberation Organization said in a statement released Thursday that the episode "characterizes the atrocities of the Nakba (catastrophe), and highlights the impunity that Israel still enjoys today."

"As with almost every single crime committed by Israel before and since its inception, the criminals responsible for this horrific and bloody massacre enjoyed full impunity."

"A few weeks after this tragic event, the man politically responsible for the Haganah (future Israeli Army), David Ben Gurion, became Israel’s first Prime Minister," the organization said in a statement.

"Even more astonishing is the fact that the head of the 'operation' at Deir Yassin, Menachem Begin, and Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of the Lehi who participated in the massacre, would also go on to become Israeli Prime Ministers."

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