Sunday, October 25, 2020

Israelís Defence Ministry erases historical Nakba documents

By F.T Hupsel - July 11, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Nakba]

An investigative report by Haaretz, published on Sunday 7 July, revealed that an Israeli Defence Ministry department called the “Director of security of the Defence establishment”, is responsible for removing historic documents of the Nakba period. 

The Nakba of 1948, or the catastrophe, is the year that marks the foundation of the state of Israel and the displacement of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their villages, towns and cities in lands that now make up Israel. 

According to the report, the department (known as Malmab for its Hebrew acronym), was said to work as a disguise to secure delicate information about Israel’s secret military programs and foreign relations. But in reality, it has been erasing evidence of the Nakba period, in favour of an Israeli narrative. 

The Israeli narrative of the Nakba that was propagated by its officials over the years, says that Palestinians left their land after Arab politicians asked them to do so. 

However, according to the Haaretz report, at least 70 per cent of the Palestinians left as a result of Jewish violence and ethnic cleansing in military operations.

Yehiel Horev, who directed Malmab for 21 years, declared that for the Israeli government these actions were always seen as crucial, as uncovering such documents could spark doubts about the legitimacy of the Israeli state, together with unrest among the country’s Arab population and the international community. 

The report also concluded Malmab concealed testimonies from IDF generals about massacres, looting and abuses which took place during the Nakba. 

Conversations led by Haaretz with directors of public and private archives revealed that personnel of the security department had handled the archives as their property, some of the documents that were put away had already been published.

Asked what the objective is in removing documents that have already been published, Yehiel Horev, explained that the goal is to undermine the credibility of investigations about the true history of the refugee problem and the events that took place back then. 

In the late 1980s, historians like Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, and Avi Shlaim, also known as the “New Historians”, started challenging the Israeli version of Nakba. 

In one of his works, published in 1986, Morris referred to notes by Mapam central Committee member Aharon Cohen on a briefing in 1948 by Israel Galili, the former chief of staff of the Haganah militia (current IDF). 

“Safsaf 52 men tied with a rope. Dropped into a pit and shot. 10 were killed. Women pleaded for mercy. [There were] 3 cases of rape. Caught and released. A girl of 14 was raped. Another 4 were killed. Rings of knives,” the note stated. 

Morris quoted the document in the footnote of his work “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.” However, when another historian tried to find the document in the coming years, it was not in the archives where Morris had indicated.


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