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Al-Dawayima massacre

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On October 28, 1948, the Arab town al-Dawayima (also spelt Dawaymeh) was conquered during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war by the 89th Commando Battalion which was composed of former Irgun and Lehi forces. They encountered only "light resistance" from the villagers, whose core clan, the Ahdibs, traced their origins to the Muslim conquest of Palestine in the seventh century.[1] Dawayima was situated a few kilometres West of Hebron. It had a population of six thousand people, Some four thousand Arab refugees had taken refuge in the village prior to the massacre.[2] The Haganah intelligence service (HIS) considered the village to be 'very friendly'.[3]


According to Benny Morris, hundred people were massacred.[4] Saleh Abdel Jawad evaluates the total to 455 deaths with 170 women and children.[5]

Eyewitness accounts

"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 troops 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.'[6][7][8] [9]

According to Benny Morris, the occupying forces held the villagers responsible for taking part in the Kfar Etzion massacre on the grounds that the 'Loot of the Etzion Block' was in the village, and therefore took revenge.[1]. A trooper, Avraham Vered, added another motive for revenge, the fact that the village was in the Hebron hills, some of whose villagers had been responsible for the 1929 Hebron Massacre [10]

From the sworn Statement given by the Mukhtar of Dawaymeh village, Hassan Mahmaod Ihdeib.

Hassan Mahmaod Ihdeib reported that half an hour after the midday prayer on Friday the 28/10/48, Hassan heard the sound of shooting from the Western side of the village, On investigation, Hassan observed a troop of some twenty armoured car approaching the village on the Qubeiba – Dawaymeh road a second troop approaching along the Beit Jibrin -Dawaymeh road and other armoured vehicles approaching from the direction of Mafkhar-Dawaymeh, The village had only twenty guards, They were posted on the Western side of the village, When the armoured cars were within half a kilometre from the village, they opened fire from automatic weapons and mortars and advanced on the village in a semi-circular movement, thereby surrounding the village on the Western, Northern and Southern sides, A section of the armoured cars entered the village with automatic weapons blazing - Jewish troops jumped put of the armoured cars and spread out through the streets of the village firing promiscuously at anything they saw, The villagers began to flee the village while the older ones took shelter in the Mosque and others in a nearby cave called Iraq El Zagh. The shooting continued for about an hour.

The following day, the Mukhtar met with the villagers and agreed to return to the village that night to find out the fate of those that had stayed behind. He reports that in the Mosque there were the bodies of some sixty persons, most of them were, men of advanced age who had taken shelter in the Mosque. His father was among them, He saw a large number of bodies in the streets, bodies of men, women and children, He then went to the Cave of Iraq El Zagh, He found at the mouth of the cave the bodies of eighty five persons, again men, women and children, The Mukhtar then carried out a census of the inhabitants of the village and found that a total of 455 persons was missing of whom 280 were men and the rest women and children, There were other casualties among the refugees, the number of which the Mukhtar was unable to determine, The Mukhtar explicitly states that the village had not been called upon to surrender and that the Jewish troops had not met with any resistance.'[2]

The UN inspection team

Yigal Allon cabled General Yitzhak Sadeh to check on the rumours of the Dawayima massacre that were circulating. On the 5 November probably worried about a UN investigation Allon then ordered Sadeh to instruct the unit:-

"that is accused of murdering Arab civilians at Dawayima to go to the village and bury with their own hands the corpses of those murdered."

Although unbeknownst to Allon the 89th had cleaned up the site of the massacre on the 1 November 1948[11]

On November 7 UN inspectors visited the scene of the village to investigate charges of a massacre by the Egyptians and refugees from the village. The team found "several demolished buildings and one corpse but no other physical evidence of a massacre."[12] The UN team did however take a witness statement form the village mukhtar[2]</blockquote>

Isser Be'eri, the commander of the IDF intelligence service, who conducted an independent investigation, concluded that 80 people had been killed during the occupation of Al-Dawayima and that 22 had been captured and executed subsequently. Be'eri recommended prosecution of the platoon OC, who had confessed to the massacre, but notwithstanding his recommendations no one was put on trial or punished.[13]


The American consul in Jerusalem, William Burdett, who had received news about the massacre reported on November 16 to Washington "Investigation by UN indicates massacre occurred but observers are unable to determine number of persons involved."

News of the massacre reached village communities in the western Hebron and Judean foothills "possibly precipitating further flight".[14]


'The reason why so little is known about this massacre which, in many respects, was more brutal than the Deir Yassin massacre, is because the Arab Legion feared that if the news was allowed to spread, it would have the same effect on the morale of the peasantry that Deir Yassin had, namely to cause another flow of Arab refugees.'[2]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Morris, 2004, p. 469.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 UN Doc. Com Tech/W.3 United Nation Conciliation Commission for Palestine Technical committee Report Submitted by the Arab Refugee Congress Dated 14 June 1949
  3. Benny Morris, (2004) p.469
  4. Benny Morris (2008), 1948: An History the First Arab-Israeli War, p. 333.
  5. Saleh Abdel Jawad (2007), Zionist Massacres: the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem in the 1948 War, in E. Benvenisti & al, Israel and the Palestinian Refugees, Berlin, Heidelberg, New-York : Springer, pp. 59-127
  6. Morris, 2004, p. 470.
  7. Benvenisti, 2002, p. 153.
  8. Flapan, Simha (1987). The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities. New York: Pantheon. pp. 94. 
  9. Gilmour, David (1980). Dispossessed: The Ordeal of the Palestinians 1917-1980. London, UK: Sidgwick & Jackson. pp. 68–69. 
  10. Morris, 2004 p.494 note 40
  11. Morris, 2004, p. 495. endnote 49
  12. Morris, (2004), p. 471.
  13. Morris, (2004), pp. 470-1
  14. Morris, 2004, p. 471.


External links

fa:کشتار دوایمه

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