Sunday, July 16, 2006
Why Palestinians Cheer Bombings of Israel
And I am going to tell you why.
The district of Safad, just one of fourteen districts of Palestine in which villages were depopulated of their Palestinian inhabitants and demolished, is located on the northeast tip of historic Palestine, now Israel. In 1948 seventy-seven of its villages were depopulated and demolished. The names of these villages do not appear on any current Israeli maps.
According to Walid Khalidi in All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Safad district's villages was carried out in two ways: through whispers and through attacks.
I liken the whisperers to the Zionists of the peace camp; Dr. Salman Abu Sitta makes an analogy between the whisperers of 1948 to those in the Zionist peace camp who admonish Palestinians to forget about their right to return home. And there are those among Palestinians who still consider kindly advice dispensing Zionists their friends.
The whispering campaign was the psychological warfare component of Operation Yiftach, the Zionist plan to ethnically cleanse Eastern Galilee of its Palestinian inhabitants, spearheaded by Yigal Allon. In Allon's own words: "I gathered the Jewish mukhtars, who had ties with different[local]Arab villages," and I asked them to whisper in the ears of several Arabs that giant Jewish reinforcements had reached the Galilee and were about to clean out the villlages of the Hula [and] to advise them, as friends, to flee while they could"(Khalidi 429).
According to Khalidi, the whispering campaign "precipitated the flight of eighteen percent of the population of the Galilee panhandle" (429).
The most extreme form of attack enacted by Zionists in order to depopulate all Palestinian towns and villages in the eastern Galilee was the massacre.
This is what happened at 'Ayn al-Zaytun, which means "spring of the olives." 'Ayn al-Zaytun was located 1.5 KM from Safad City. 'Ayn Al-Zaytun was a village built of stone on top of a hill, a suburb of Safad. According to the New York Times, on January 3, 1948, Zionists bombed four houses and killed one villager (Khalidi 437). Several months later, on May 1, according to the Times, the village was captured.
Villagers gave testimonies in 1973 about the massacre that got underway at 3:00 AM (the Zionist modus operandi doesn't change). Eleven mortars, according to Khalidi, fired at the village. The village men with weapons decided to retreat. The remaining men were taken away while the rest of the villagers were "humiliated and expelled while shots were fired over their heads" (437).
Thirty-seven of the men were taken by Israeli forces. "According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, they were probably amaong a group of seventy people later massacred in a gully between 'Ayn al-Zaytun and Safad under orders form Moshe Kelman" (437). With an impending visit from the Red Cross, "he ordered their hands to be untied, to conceal the fact that the killing had been done in cold blood" (437).
Villagers attempting to return were shot at. On May 2-3, the Palmach, in order to scare the townspeople in Safad who could see the village, completely leveled 'Ayn al-Zaytoun.
The village of Akbara was located 2.5 kilometers from Safad. By the time this village was attacked, most of its inhabitants fled because of the influence of the 'Ayn al-Zaytun massacre. It was still, however, attacked, in order to "serve as an example to the people of Safad" (431). The Zionists wished to impress upon the people of Safad "a feeling that they were about to be surrounded and would be unable to flee..."(431).
Over two hundred and fifty Palestinian villages were depopulated before Israel was declared a state on May 15, and before any Arab armies entered Palestine.