16 Jun 2011

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Dawayma massacre

October 29, 1948: the Israeli army brutally massacred about 100 women and children, precipitating a massive flight of people from that village on the western side of the Hebron mountains. Mr. Walid Khalidi, author of All That Remains, says that the Palestinian inhabitants at Dawayma faced one of the larger Israel massacres, though today it is among the least well-known.

The following are excerpts of a description of the massacre published in the Israeli daily ‘Al ha Mishmar, quoted in All That Remains:

“The children they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without dead…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…”

A former mukhtar of Dawayma interviewed in 1984 by the Israeli daily Hadashot, also quoted by Mr. Khalidi, offered another description:

“The people fled, and everyone they saw in the houses, they shot and killed. They also killed people in the streets. They came and blew up my house, in the presence of eye-witnesses…the moment that the tanks came and opened fire, I left the village immediately. At about half-past ten, two tanks passed the Darawish Mosque. About 75 old people were there, who had come early for Friday prayers. They gathered in the mosque to pray. They were all killed.”

About 35 families had been hiding in caves outside Dawayma, according to the mukhtar, and when the Israeli forces discovered them they were told to come out, line up, and begin walking. “And as they started to walk, they were shot by machine guns from two sides…we sent people there that night, who collected the bodies, put them into a cistern, and buried them,” the mukhtar told the Israeli daily.

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