Can Israel conceal War Crimes by Emptying its Archives?

Historian Tamar Novick was jolted by a document she found in the file of Yosef Waschitz, from the Arab Department of the left-wing Mapam Party, in the Yad Yaari archive at Givat Haviva. The document, which seemed to describe events that took place during the 1948 war, began:

“Safsaf [former Palestinian village near Safed] – 52 men were caught, tied them to one another, dug a pit and shot them. 10 were still twitching. Women came, begged for mercy. Found bodies of 6 elderly men. There were 61 bodies. 3 cases of rape, one east of from Safed, girl of 14, 4 men shot and killed. From one they cut off his fingers with a knife to take the ring.”

The writer goes on to describe additional massacres, looting and abuse perpetrated by Israeli forces in Israel’s War of Independence. The Israeli top brass knew about what was going on in real time.

Morris’ footnote (in his seminal “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”) states that this document was also found in the Yad Yaari Archive. But when Novick returned to examine the document, she was surprised to discover that it was no longer there.

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Haaretz published an investigation carried out by journalist Hagar Shezaf and which revealed how Israel has been systematically hiding the Israeli archive which documented Zionist crimes against Palestinians.

Damaging historical documents or hiding them from researchers is an illegal act. However, Israel has been working hard for decades to black-out the historical records in these documents in an effort not to stain its image before the eyes of the world.

The great Israeli historian Benny Morris said that the Hasbara Department of the Israeli foreign ministry issued in 1969 a booklet authored by his father which denies the Zionist massacre committed against civilians in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin.

“In the booklet,” Morris said, “it was claimed that there was no massacre in Deir Yassin and that the story about the massacre is supposedly an Arab fiction.”

Israel plans to hide documents relating to the Nakba (violent expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and lands) in an effort to hide its crimes and perpetuate its lies.

Israel prevents journalists and protesters, often killing them.

“The objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the [Palestine] refugee problem,” Yehiel Horev, former head of the Israeli defense ministry’s security bureau Malmab, explained. He added that “an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.”

“If someone were doing this to Holocaust documents, there would be a cry to the heavens. What a shame.”

The Jewish State is actively trying to erase the Nakba (genocide) and any critical discussion of it. Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany – but Nakba denial is not illegal in Israel, and it is thriving.

Happy then, happy now to celebrate their stolen land.

Israeli journalist Jonathan Ofir wrote in Mondoweiss.

If Israel is attempting to erase the Nakba  from its archive in order to bury Palestinian history, civilization, culture and rights, their attempts will fail.

One reason for this is that Israel has not stopped committing war crimes and genocide against Palestinians since its creation in 1948, when its gangs, which became its army, killed thousands of Palestinians – displacing around 800,000 – and demolished over 530 cities and towns and villages. It has continued committing crimes against the Palestinians until this day.

Israel also continues to disregard international laws and conventions, and ignore resolutions issued by international bodies which have been calling for it to respect Palestinians, their rights and allow Palestine refuges to return to their homes.

Contrary to the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Palestinians have not forgotten their right to the land, their homes and their right of return. “The old [Palestinians] will die and the young will forget,” Ben-Gurion infamously said, however generation after generation Palestinians have passed on their history and their link to the land. Even those in the diaspora have held on to their roots.

Not only have the Palestinians not forgotten Palestine but the whole world of decent people are on their side. Not what Ben Gurion expected!

Another reason why Israel’s policies will fail is that global support for the Palestinians is on the rise, and more is being done to highlight their plight. This has meant that eyes are on Israel’s policies against Palestinians are in the spotlight and are being documented, shared and efforts are being made to hold it accountable.

A number of those working to that end are in Israel. They are reluctant to support the state’s policies regarding its archives. This community is emerging and moving to fight the government’s efforts to hide the crimes it has committed.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.

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