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Posted on October 9, 2012

The Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Israel


In the summer of 1948, following over six months of clashes, the Palestinian village of Ijzim was captured by Israel troops and its inhabitants were uprooted and dispersed throughout the Middle East. Ijzim was one of roughly 400 Palestinian villages and towns that were depopulated during the 1948 war in Palestine. The combination of information gathered from Israeli army documents and the refugees' oral accounts, collected in Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Territories of the West Bank, yields a complex picture of the local guerilla fighting and the social conditions that influenced the final consequences. Two main arguments are presented along the historical recounting of the events. The one sets the microcosmos of one village in contrast to the macro picture of the war. The other highlights the uniqueness and contribution of oral histories as sources that reveal facets otherwise missing. 1

During the war of 1948, events that occurred in one Palestinian village and its vicinity, the Mount Carmel coastal plain, demonstrated a significant ambiguity in terms that, on the macrocosmic level, are taken to be obvious. Such terms as "expelled" or "fled", "negotiations," "collaborators" and the very usage of the term "war" acquire fluid meanings. Beyond the historical probing and the attempt to sketch the local meanings, concerns and motivations, the refugees' narration uncovers social concepts and events that characterized village life and Palestinian rural society.

The two major sources for the material presented here are oral descriptions of the war given to me by villagers who became refugees (whether from Ijzim the Jizmawis or from neighboring villages) and documents found at the Israel Defense Force Archive (IDFA). 2 The IDFA material comprises officers' reports of attacks and battles, intelligence evaluations, informers' reports, confiscated Arab documents, prisoners' interrogations 3 and a UN committee inquiry that included the questioning of the villagers after they had reached the Iraqi lines. Complementary sources incorporated into this paper include oral testimonies of Israeli soldiers who participated in the fighting in Ijzim and the surrounding area, Mandate archival material and newspaper reports.

What is common to the two main sources-- the villagers' accounts and the army documents--is that they derive from people who witnessed the war events. They are predominantly first-hand accounts. Needless to say, the distinction between archival sources and the villagers' oral accounts is that the latter are reflections told after fifty years of "remembering." The fact that oral accounts are a reflection does not necessarily suggest that they are unreliable or distorted accounts (Thompson 1978; Samuel and Thompson 1990). My argument to the contrary is that these memories of a crucial period are indispensable. The
exiled villagers have preserved many and unique "scenes" that befell during the chaotic period of 1948 without much sifting. The oral accounts commemorate certain actors and explain their motivations. We are told how and why the Jizmawi bus driver took revenge of the Jews or how the Jizmawi lawyer tried to arbitrate between the village and the Jews. Moreover, the internal village dynamics (such as inter-class tension, male/ female division of labor or the disintegration of the usual social fabric due to the ongoing clashes) become relevant factors in the overall picture of the war period. The lapse of time between the events and their narration, noted Samuel Hynes, "shifts the focus inwards, to meaning and subject-response: no longer simply what happened but what did it mean? How did it affect me?" (Hynes 1999: 208). Hence, rather than treating memories as a suspect, they should be utilized as templates that project issues that were, and still are, relevant for the villagers (See Wachtel 1986, following Halbwachs 1980).

In contrast to the oral narration, the army documents sketch specific facts such as the nature, location, date and timing of each clash, and the determined attempts and means that were used by the Israelis to capture the village. Hence, the combination of the two dissimilar sources--army documents and oral accounts-- provides a fairly coherent story, laden with nuances, of the 1948 events.


Ijzim was a relatively large and prosperous village located on a hill a few kilometers east of the Haifa± Jaffa road. In 1948, the Jewish army forced its 3000 inhabitants to flee, along with some 750,000 urban, rural and Bedouin Palestinians (Abu Lughod 1971: 161; Morris 1987: 298; Takkenberg 1997: 19). Historically, it is the hometown of the influential al-Madi family who ruled the Haifa Coastal region as intermediaries for the Ottomans during the first half of the 19th century. 4 The al-Madis remained in key political positions through the 19th and 20th centuries and owned exceptionally large plots of land. Some family members were sent abroad for higher education (mainly to Beirut and Damascus). Prominent members of the family resided simultaneously both in the nearby city of Haifa and in the village. Both in terms of land ownership and in terms of population, Ijzim was the second largest village in the Haifa district (second only to Tirat Haifa). 5 In addition to the village's historical prominence and its particular social composition, Ijzim was chosen as a case study on account of the abundance of documents concerning the village kept at the Israel Defense Force Archive (IDFA).

The coastal plain of Mount Carmel, stretching from Caesarea in the south to Haifa in the north, was densely populated and was growing rapidly during the late Ottoman Rule and the Mandate period. The British government invested in the region, carrying out projects such as paving the coastal road at the foot of the Carmel Ridge (completed in the mid 1930s), establishing 'Atlit's salt industry and Haifa's deep port, and erecting army camps, police stations and prisons. All of those provided working opportunities for the local population. Haifa, 25 kilometers north of Ijzim, was the district's urban center. During the Mandate period its population increased rapidly, from 24,640 residents in 1922 to 128,800 in 1944. 6 Economic prosperity came hand in hand with close security control, especially after the 1936-9 Arab Revolt, when the British banned any possession of arms, and implemented this policy especially within the Arab sector.

The Jewish army captured Haifa on 21- 22 April 1948, following the British withdrawal from parts of the city to concentrate in camps, which they would leave permanently a few months later. The great majority of Haifa's 60,000 Arab inhabitants left the city hastily through the port immediately after it fell into Jewish hands, landing first in Acre, on the northern tip of the Haifa Bay, and later continuing to Lebanon. 7 The culminating situation of violence in the city between the two groups and the massacre of Arabs by Jews in the village of Dir Yasin 10 days earlier had their impact on this mass exodus.

Many of the villages of the Carmel district held out for three months after the fall of Haifa Ijzim and its two neighboring villages, Jaba' and 'Ein Ghazal, numbering 1140 and 2170 inhabitants, respectively, 8 fought together and were the last Carmel villages to fall, on the 26th of July. The continuous resistance and steadfastness of the three villages, nicknamed by the Jews "the little triangle," is mentioned in Israeli books on the war. 9 In a curious reverse manner, we find Palestinian reports quoting the Jewish sources that describe the steadfastness of these villages. For instance, Walid Khalidi in All That Remains (Khalidi, 1992 :164) cites The History of the War of Independence and the Bir Zeit web-site on at-Tireh cites The History of the Hagana 10 .

The Jewish army's intention to" cleanse the Carmel" is expressed in a rare May 1948 document. (Documents kept at IDFA that refer to expulsion are usually censored). 11 Tuvia Arazy had worked for the Shai (Sherut Yedi'ot, literally "The Information Service"), the Hagana intelligence arm, and later for the Arab section of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency. Arazy was holding talks with representatives of the Druze villages of Mount Carmel and reported their outcome to Moshe Carmel, the commander of the Carmeli Brigade, the army unit responsible for the area. 12 The following is a reply Moshe Carmel sent Arazy in May 1948:

. ..I emphasized this to you by phone before the meeting and I repeat, the Hagana has not authorized anyone to negotiate with the Druze in matters of security and defense, nor to make agreements with them in these matters either in writing or verbally. Whatever was decided in this meeting does not bind the Hagana and it will operate according to its own considerations and inclinations. Furthermore, this meeting if it touches on military matters, contradicts the Hagana inclination to cleanse (letihur ) the Carmel and causes damage in matters of security . ... 13

This plan "to cleanse the Carmel" was not carried through fully. Two Moslem village, Fredis and Jisr az-Zarqa' (originally 'Arab al-Ghawarneh) remained intact, as well as the two Druze villages, Dalyet al-Karmel and 'Isfiyyeh (which had previous ties with Jewish dignitaries). The rest of the villages in this area were indeed depopulated. In some cases, such as in the village of Sarafand, (which was relatively small), the inhabitants left out of fear before they were attacked whereas in most cases the inhabitants did not leave until they realized that they had lost the battle. Such was the case of Ijzim. 14


Abu Ashraf, born in 1927, was well informed of the war, as he had been actively involved in it, being of fighting age in 1948. We met roughly five times at his current village of residence in Israel. H 15

Abu Ashraf: I'll tell you about the war of Kerem Maharal [the name of the Jewish settlement that was established on the site of Ijzim] 16 . The war of Kerem Maharal began bit by bit. It began on the main road. People would go, people would pass to Haifa. Haifa was not gone yet [that is, had not fallen into Jewish hands yet]. The war's first incident-- there was a Jewish jeep on the road. And there was a bus from Ijzim to Haifa [an Arab bus]. In it were a nurse and a teacher named Tawfiq. ..[Abu Ashraf is trying to recall Tawfiq's family name]
Umm Ashraf [his wife]: Tawfiq al-'Aref.
Abu Ashraf [correcting his wife]: Tawfiq al-Murad, Tawfiq al-Murad.
That jeep was shooting at the bus. It killed that girl [i. e. the nurse] and that man, who was educated.
Efrat: Why were they shooting at the bus?
Abu Ashraf: It was the beginning of the war. ... The bus arrived back at the village in the evening. They said:
"This nurse was killed and the man from the al-Madi family".
On the next day, this man who owned the bus went [to Haifa]. His name is Sa'id al-Madani. From Ijzim. He went by bus and they saw the jeep on the road. He said to the people on the bus: "Hold on tight" and he ran over that jeep. Killed the people. But the English were still here. They hadn't left yet. And it began-- The Jews were shooting buses, and people [namely the Arabs] were shooting at the Jews.

Abu Ashraf described these two consecutive events on the main road as the first significant war incidents in the area. The Ijzim bus, which collided with the Jewish car, was a memorable event also for Jamil, who lives in the northern Jordanian City of Irbid. Jamil, of 'Ein Hawd, was a boy of ten and a half at the time of this road incident and as he studied in the village of 'Ein Ghazal, he often rode the bus that connected Ijzim and Haifa, driven by Sa'id al-Madani. The following was his version (delivered in English and hence the intact mistakes) of the incident in which Sa'id al-Madani ran over the Jewish vehicle: E

Jamil: The early months. ... Once the driver called Sa'id al-Madani, I think he was living in Baghdad. ... Perhaps he died. Perhaps he is still living. Till three or four years [ago] he was still living. He was the driver of the bus [that] belonged to Ijzim and he was from Ijzim. And he saw a small taxi. Inside it-- three or four engineers-- political men, I don't know. And he told the people in the bus-- just seize your desk tightly. 19 As we say in the airplane-- fasten your seat belt. And he used the brakes over the taxi to go down and kill the people there. After that, of course, a trial was held by the English people in Haifa, and people from at-Tireh surrounded the court to prevent any hurt to that person. ... After that, and that is funny really, instead of glass for the windows for his bus, they put steel windows. Imagine.

It is possible that an event described in the Jewish Haaretz newspaper on 3 February 1948 relates to the above mentioned road "accident." Haaretz reported that two Jewish men were killed and one was injured when an Arab bus collided with their small car on the Haifa- Tel Aviv way. One man was a hydraulic engineer, the second was the head of the Hebrew Masonry Committee in the Organization for Home Produce and the injured man was a member of the Clerk's Union. 20 Expectedly, the Jewish newspaper named the Jews involved whereas the Jizmawis named the Palestinian actors. (Only the Palestinian nurse on the bus, a woman, remains anonymous).

Whereas Abu Ashraf and Jamil limit themselves to telling the story as part of a somewhat discontinuous historical chronicle, Shafiq added a theory that framed this event within the escalation of the war in Ijzim. Shafiq, born in 1930 in Ijzim and today a resident of Haifa, thought that the people of Ijzim would never have chosen to get involved in the war since "they were simple farmers who did not own weapons and did not know how to use them." Shafiq, a member of the al-Madi family, reflected on the social classes within the village and related the events with a certain distance from "the simple farmers." Both he and another member of his family were trying to figure out what had happened to the village leadership as they narrated the historical events. They deplored the fact that the leadership before 1948 did not invest enough resources in education and in the preservation of the family's property. In addition to this internal trajectory, they noted, came the events of 1948. In Shafiq's opinion, two Jewish acts of provocation triggered the lethal "war." One was the kidnapping of seven men who were working in the fields near the main road and the second was the shooting at Sa'id al-Madani's bus. 

Certain aspects are highlighted in the oral narratives on Sa'id al-Madani. Jamil noted that until not long ago al-Madani was still living in Baghdad. Jamil was informed because the dispersed people of the Haifa district keep in touch. Furthermore, the story of al-Madani's action had been circulated for the last fifty years and his act and its significance for the district's villagers did not end in 1948. The narration is part of a commemorative act in which people are being transformed into local heroes. In retrospect, these events are perceived as landmarks and framed within the national struggle.


As of the spring of 1948, the Israeli army was consolidated, the clashes along the road intensified, and we find that the army also documents the events described by the villagers.

Somewhat surprisingly, the two sources tend to complement each other. An Arab informer reported the following to the IDF:

On Thursday, three Arabs from Ijzim were captured by the Jews in the fields of 'Ain Ghazal near the road to Ijzim. One's name is [the name is censored] and the other [the name is censored]. They left the third. Two weeks ago six Arabs were captured in the fields of Jaba'. Two were released and four have not returned yet. 21

There were continuous negotiations and exchanges of prisoners all through the war. One of the last roadblock events, well remembered by the villagers as well as thoroughly documented in the Jewish archives, took place on the 6th of July, three weeks before the village fell. This is the incident's description in an IDFA record:

At 11: 15 there was a fierce attack on the [Jewish] transportation on the 'Atlit -Zikhron Road. The attack was with heavy arms and machine guns and came from both sides of the road near Jaba'. The driver of the armored car, which was accompanying sixteen cars, was lightly wounded and two other passengers from the cars were also wounded. All were transferred to a hospital.
At 11: 15 a gunnery car arrived on the scene from Tel Aviv with a taxi. While they were near Jaba', three armed
Arabs were shooting at them. They replied with small arms. At that time a big convoy arrived from Haifa. It
was stopped by heavy fire. A fuel carrier started to burn and blocked the road. The rest of the cars managed to
escape to a safe place. It is assumed that some unarmed people jumped off the cars during the attack and hid in
the fields of Jaba'. At 13: 15 an armored car was sent by us from 'Atlit to Jaba' and attacked the posts that face
the road. There is an effort to find the people who may still be in the fields.

During this assault a few Jews were taken captive. One of them was Perets Velvel Etkes who is mentioned both in the IDFA documents and in the oral accounts. Etkes was one of many prisoners but he became one of the more famous perhaps because of his previous post as an engineer in the British Public Works Department in Haifa. Etkes' kidnapping crossed Amin's thoughts while he was telling me about the many cars and trucks that were captured on the road and were brought to the village. Amin, born in Ijzim in 1934, lives in a village in Israel. H

Amin: I remember one time when the fighters on the road brought a car loaded with poultry. ... One time they brought maize. And I remember one time they caught someone named Etkes. He was driving, I think, a motorcycle, and they attacked him and he escaped into the cornfield near Jaba' and they chased him and caught him as a prisoner, that is, he was taken to Ijzim.

Abu Na'im, born in Ijzim in 1936, remembered Etkes as well. Abu Na'im lives in a village in Israel. We met twice at his home, which still resembles the homesteads of the past. In the space adjacent to the house Abu Na'im has a hen-coop, some sheep and goats. H

Abu¯ Na'i¯m: There was one man named Etkes who was kidnapped. He passed on the coastal road with a car, I think in the area of 'Ein Carmel- Zerufa, 23 I am not sure. ... They stopped his car and brought him. His wife was injured. I remember her, a fat woman. She was wounded in her hand. They made her a bandage from a piece of cloth and brought her. What's this? [I thought to myself]. I saw this woman in this situation, [and felt] uneasy. Two people holding her and she. ..; her husband, they tied his eyes. So what do they want to do with her? She will die in their hands. And then people were quick, someone mounted a horse and ran to Dalia. 24 He brought [Druze] people, they placed her on a second horse and took her. And he [the husband] stayed at Maqura. The headquarters was in Maqura. Where did he stay? With Sharif. And who was his guard? My uncle, Murshid. ..; and I remember, he was the guard and they were in good relations. And I saw how they released him, through negotiations in 'Isfiyyeh.

Sharif was a lawyer. Originally from Ijzim, he studied in Damascus and, upon his return, opened an office in Haifa. He owned a large plot of land adjacent to Ijzim from the east, which he turned into a fruitful orchard known as al-Bayyara located near the spring of Maqura. During the Arab Revolt, in 1937, an attempt to murder him led him to leave for two years and go to Beirut with his family. When he returned, he discovered that the rebels had destroyed his home and trees. Nevertheless, he chose to rebuild his farm, spending weekdays in Haifa practicing law and the weekends at his Ijzim farm. Through his profession he established close links with British officials as well as with influential Jews. On account of these alignments, he served as a mediator during the war, trying to achieve an agreement between Ijzim and the Hagana (the main armed Jewish organization that preceded the establishment of the Israel Defense Force).

On the very same day that Etkes was captured, Sharif, who was keeping the captive in his Maqura home near Ijzim, wrote the following letter to a Jewish acquaintance: 

To Mr. Dov Ben Alter Ha'adom, Abu Yusuf hello, I have received your letter today through a man from 'Ein Ghaza¯l regarding the engineer Etkes. Salomon, the lawyer from Haifa, also applied in this matter. Also, Mr. Hayyat of Haifa came and met the elders of Jaba' and promised to release five of the people the Jews captured in 'Atlit. Perhaps by tomorrow the exchange will be over and engineer Etkes will be released. He is in my home, healthy and well and honored as usual with the Arabs. 25

Shafiq, Sharif's son, remembered the prisoners vividly. We met in July 1998, at his home in Haifa. H

Shafiq: One day, people came to my father and told him that one of the Jews had surrendered and they had shot him. My father said to them that this is no good-- whoever surrenders should be placed in captivity. A few days later they brought him prisoners--a truck driver, who later worked as a guard at the income tax office on Port Street. .. He was an elderly man. I do not know if he is still alive. ... And a taxi driver who later worked in a clothes warehouse on Herzl Street. ... And Etkes and his wife. His wife was injured in her hand and we happened to have guests from Dalia. As we didn't have a doctor, my father said--" what shall I do?" and asked the guests to take her. And they took her, you know, through the mountains. ... The three remained in the house and my mother would make food for them every day.

You know, the Jenin Triangle was under Iraqi army control and they sent Iraqi soldiers to take the prisoners. My father refused. He said to them, "You cannot take them. These are our prisoners. We are going to exchange them for our prisoners that the Jews took. We do not want to give away the prisoners, or else our prisoners will remain there." So they left and did not take them. No one guarded the three prisoners. I used to visit the room where they stayed every day. The driver, I remember, from Port Street, said to me "let me escape" and I said to him: "There are too many people for you to be able to escape. They'll catch you and kill you. You cannot". To make the story short, there was an exchange later. ..and with the assistance of some Druze, Mrs. Etkes sent a gift to my mother, stockings and perfume and I don't remember what else was in this suitcase.

When Etkes returned from his imprisonment, he was questioned by the IDF and supplied information about the situation in Ijzim, including a description of the Iraqis who had come to take him. The following is an extract from the report that was written by Etkes' interrogator:

On Thursday night, an Iraqi unit with an officer showed up on the estate. The people were well armed and one had a machine gun. They looked very tired as if they had come from afar. Then he [Etkes] discovered they came from 'Arrabeh [a village south west of Jeni¯n] where the Iraqi headquarters is at the moment. The officer spoke fluent English but Etkes is sure he is not an Englishman. He looks like an Iraqi. The officer questioned him briefly and then said he was about to take him to 'Arrabeh for a thorough interrogation. But after consulting with Shari¯f, he changed his mind and said Etkes would be released if we were to release Ijzim's prisoners. The unit stayed for a short while and then continued to Jaba'. 26

Kupershtock was the name of the truck driver who was imprisoned at Sharif's house and who was mentioned by Shafiq. From his imprisonment he sent letters to Ya'aqov Salomon, a Jewish lawyer who was a Hagana liaison officer in Haifa and a participant in the negotiations with Ijzim. Salomon knew Shari¯f long before the incident, as they were both lawyers in Haifa. The following letter was found in Ya'aqov Salomon's archive in a small envelope that contained other notes from that period. 27

15/ 7/ 48. Dear Mr. Salomon. I have received your letter and I cannot comprehend why is it taking so long when my head and body are not well. .. and I need medical treatment. .. and I have nothing here. "Moh Ç ammad Efendi¯" 28 is willing to set me free if you give him one Arab. You should know that the situation here is very tense and I am liable to pay with my life any minute. Our airplanes dropped many bombs. .. and there were many casualties. . .. They already wanted to set me up [namely, get rid of me], only Muhammad Efendi wouldn't let them. You cannot imagine how critical my situation is. I now write to you clearly and I ask for a clear reply. Then I will know what to do, as I will have no other choice but to escape and risk my life in one hundred percent. 29 I am lost and I find it difficult to carry on. They are watching me with seventy eyes. Please take everything into consideration. I thank you in advance. Zvi Kupershtock. 30

On the 8th of July, while Kupershtock and Etkes were still in Ijzim, there was a Jewish infantry assault on the village, described as a reprisal for the Arab road attack two days earlier. The Jewish soldiers failed to reach the village and were fiercely attacked by the village fighters, their position was surrounded from three directions and they hastily retreated, leaving behind two dead men and taking back with them nine wounded. The Israeli officer who documented the event concluded by saying, amongst other observations, that "the enemy was quick to get oriented and attack, well commanded with an offensive spirit and tendency to assault." 31 On the 10th of July Etkes was released and on the 16th of July, Kupershtock was released as well. 32


Whereas the local picture evolves rather coherently from the documents and oral accounts, there are some discrepancies between the "local world" (as it is described by the villagers and the army documents) and the public and popular images of 1948 that evolved through the years.

One of the ongoing debates regarding 1948 surrounds the role of the "external forces"-- be they the Arab Alliance Forces (Iraqi, Jordanian, Syrian and so on) or Palestinian mobilized forces such as those organized by 'Abd al-Qader al-Husseini of Jerusalem or Muhammad as-Saffuri of Saffuriyyeh. The villagers noted that they were reluctant to allow the foreign forces to settle within the village. In an IDFA intelligence report, dated 12 March, 1948 (before the major war escalation), we are told that an informer, named "The Lawyer," says that Muhammad as-S affuri's band left the village of Ijzim and is now in a house near Sharif 's orchard. They also moved their ammunition and arms. Outside the house people stand guard with Canary rifles. 33 "The lawyer," who is, most likely, Sharif himself (as he was the only lawyer in Ijzim at the time), gave more information to the Jews a few days later: a re-enforcement of 30 men in addition to as-Saffuri's men had been sent to Ijzim with a Turkish officer, probably associated with "The Arab Liberation Army." They said that they had been sent by 'Abd al-Qader al-Husseini, the leader of the fighting forces in the Jerusalem District. The officer and as-Saffuri were in conflict since the Turk was subordinate to Saffuri but thought Saffuri knew nothing of military issues. The Turk drew sketches of the areas of the nearby Jewish settlements and with his men dug pits for mines between the Arab village of Fredis and the Jewish settlement of Zikhron Ya'aqov (a few kilometers south of Ijzim). 34 From both sources we learn that forces from outside came and went, stayed near the village, and seem to have had problems in communicating amongst themselves and with the villagers.

Following the fall of Haifa, the district's villagers were isolated. As they were prevented from entering the city during the months of May, June and July, they used Druze intermediaries to transfer and sell their agricultural products in the city. 35 Another route out of the siege led to the Iraqi Forces based in Jenin, twenty kilometers south of Ijzim. The Iraqis entered Palestine with the other Arab Alliance forces on 15 May 1948. It is still debated whether the foreign armies really participated actively, as the Israeli chronicle tends to emphasize, or whether their presence was partially symbolic and misleading for the local Palestinians who relied mistakenly on their help, as the Palestinian sources often present it. In Ijzim, as we shall see, the foreign forces played a minor role, especially when they were most needed.

Even though the official Iraqi rhetoric was strongly pro-Palestinian, in actuality, the Iraqi involvement in the war was limited. The Iraqis were accused, both within the Arab League and by the local Palestinians, for having "no orders" (makuawamer in the Iraqi colloquial Arabic) and lacking a clear policy. 36 As a result of these lacks, Iraqi officers at certain localities took personal initiatives. We find correspondence between the local Iraqi and local Israeli officers to settle a dispute concerning the usage of a certain plot of land on the borderline between the Jewish and Iraqi forces, in a place between Ijzim and Jenin. The Iraqi officer sends a letter to the Jewish officer in which he talks on behalf of the local Arab farmers who were shot by the Jewish army while trying to access their land. He notes that Jews are now collecting the Arab crops and that such a deed has no "military spirit." In order to solve the problem he calls for a meeting, to which the two parties should come unarmed. 37 This meeting indeed took place. Such local initiatives are perhaps indicators to the general disorderly state of affairs.

However, the Iraqis did provide some assistance to the local Palestinian fighters. We know from the IDFA records that there was a flow of arms and products between the "little triangle" and the area occupied by the Iraqi forces, especially when the little triangle was under siege. 38 Abu Ashraf said that: "At night time we would go from Ijzim to 'A ra [20 km south of Ijzim]. The Iraqi Army was stationed there. We would go and bring bullets on camels. At night. Past the Jews. I also went a few times". The documents show that the Jewish army knew of the open route through the mountains:

An informer reports Ijzim's fighters have good contacts with the village of  'A ra and Umm az-Zinat [a village roughly 8 kms east of Ijzim]. 'A ra is held by the Iraqis and they have a big force there. Iraqi soldiers visit Ijzim. Last week Ijzim's leaders visited 'Ara and the Iraqi commander notified them that when the truce is over, there will be a general attack on Haifa from the direction of Mishmar Ha'emeq by the regular forces, with air and sea forces. 39 He notified them not to allow Arabs into Haifa and to tell the Arabs of Haifa to keep away from it due to the danger. 40

The circumstances under which Palestinian villagers left their villages are at the heart of public (as well as private) discussion. In the case of the Carmel district, although some inhabitants were evacuated, the fighters were encouraged and even forced to stay. In at-Tireh, twenty kilometers north of Ijzim, many of the women and children were evacuated by the Jordanian Legion in an organized manner. This protection of the family and especially the women is linked to the central role of honor (sharaf ) in Arab society. A man's honor is dependent on the prevention of any harm, and especially sexual harm, inflicted on his women kin. Therefore, the men felt it necessary to keep the women and girls away from any potential damage, while they remained to fight. However, in retrospect, some villagers considered the disintegration of families during the war a detrimental factor. In an interview in his Irbid home Abu Wasfi, at-Tireh's mukhtar (headman) and a prominent figure in the district, mentioned the evacuation of the women and children. His comment provoked a remark (or was it an accusation?) from Abu Majdi, who was sitting with us and was a child in at-Tireh in 1948: A

I have one question to ask, Abu Wasfi: The reason that the women and children were sent away and the men
remained--what was the planned policy?. ... Was it the politics of the forces from outside or from within?
Ya'ani¯, when my mother and my wife left, what was left for me to do?

This comment sparked a debate among the men in the room. The underlying assumption was that the village was much more vulnerable when the circumstances of war did not permit the preservation of the usual social order. Generally, the social fabric of the village was portrayed as rural and traditional, where gender roles were clearly delineated (Abu Rashed 1993). The evacuation of the women and children in April 1948 entailed new domestic arrangements-- who would cook for the men? Who would do the laundry? Moreover, it was not only the practicalities that posed difficulties; it was the image of the village as a functioning unit that was shattered, even before it fell to Jewish hands.

The Iraqi army was a new factor intervening in the regular social order. That may explain the villagers' reluctance to allow the Iraqis to base themselves in the village or to fight on their behalf. However, when the situation got graver (especially from the middle of July), the Jizmawis called on the Iraqis to join the fighting and yet this assistance failed to arrive. H

Abu Na'im: We used to consult with the Iraqi army. "So what do you think?" we would say. "Carry on" [they would reply]. "We will come next week. Next week".
Efrat: So they actually forced the men to stay and fight?
Abu Na'im: Yes, and they cheated them. They said--" look, do it. ..carry on fighting, hold on, next week we shall come". And once there was a battle, in the place where a tower stands today in the mountains of Geva Carmel (Jaba'), so they called [the men of Ijzim], they had communication, the first communication, [they called] the Iraqi army--" send us reinforcements". They [the Iraqis] said they'll send airplanes. Airplanes indeed came, but bombed them.

Abu Na'im meant that they waited for Iraqi planes and discovered that the planes were Jewish. They thought the airplanes had come to assist them and therefore revealed themselves to the pilots and that enabled the Israeli planes to target the villagers. He was hinting at the fact that the Jews tricked the villagers-- the Jews made them think the airplanes were Iraqi and then bombed them. Shafiq described a similar deceit. An airplane would approach the village but then fly towards the sea and drop a bomb there, as if targeting the Jewish settlement. Then, the plane would fly to the mountains to the east and drop a bomb there. When the people of the village came out to hail the Arab plane, a bomb was dropped on them. 

The Jews possibly knew when the villagers were expecting the Iraqi planes because the IDF was monitoring radio transmissions between the Arab ground fighters in Ijzim and the Iraqi forces in Jenin. This may have enabled the Jews to trace the fighters accurately and explain Abu Na'im's above-mentioned story of the bombing in Jaba'. The following is an intercepted radio transmission between the desperate little-triangle fighters and the Iraqi headquarters, dated 21 July, three days before the final attack on the village that led to its fall:

10: 40. To Hasan [of Ijzim] (2)
From Madar [assumed by the IDF to be the village representative in Jenin]( 1)
1 - The Red Cross will reach you today. You must defend as strongly as you can until the Red Cross
Committee comes.
2 - When will the committee arrive?
1 - It will arrive today. It is on its way to you.
2 - The attack is still fierce.
1 - We will inform ra'is Khalil. If you wish, you can speak to him.
2 - Let him speak to me.
1 - I'll go and call him.
I have just been making inquiries about you. The committee will arrive in an hour. Stay in your trenches.
2 - [unclear]
1 - Just one hour. The representatives will reach you
2 - [unclear]
1 - I could not sleep all night. We hear every bomb that falls on you. We have sent a radio warning to the Jews.
2 - [unclear]
1 - I am now speaking to you from Jenin. I went there in order to speak on your behalf.
2 -Inshalla [with God's help] they will look upon it favorably.
1 - The committee will reach you before the Mundels
41 reach you. Musa is in the headquarters in Nablus and takes care of your matters.
2 - We have been exposed. 42

The villagers still talk of the Iraqi failure to come to their assistance. Their accusations of this foreign military force come from their own experience; it is not just a common amorphous accusation of the Arab armies who promised help and failed to supply it. In retrospect, the villagers lament the fact that they might have organized themselves better if they had known how limited was the assistance the Iraqis were willing to offer.


The oral narratives, more than the army documents, disclose the atmosphere that prevailed during the ongoing months of guerilla fighting. A massacre was known to have taken place in May in the neighboring village of Tantura. Tantura was located on the beach a couple of kilometers south west of Ijzim and was captured by the Jewish Alexandroni unit, (which was responsible for the Coastal plain,) on 23 May 1948. Between 70 and 200 people, mainly men, were killed in Tantura during and following its conquest. Yig'al Fried was the commander of one of the Jewish units that fought in the area. 43 When we went for a car-ride along the Carmel Coast to discuss the 1948 events, Yig'al noted that he knew of no such massacre in Tantura but that there was "a tendency" to shoot at men of fighting age. He later corrected himself and said that one would shoot only at "the men who carried guns that were of fighting age." Although the consequences of Tantura's conquest did not become publicly known until recently 44 and a public symbol such as the Dir Yasin massacre, they were nevertheless known in the region. 45 Shafiq, who stayed with his family in Maqura near Ijzim after the war, heard from his relative of the events in Tantura. H

Shafiq: In Tantura the men were killed. The men were taken out and killed. And how do I know this? My father's uncle came after 1948, through. ..[ it seems Shafiq doesn't want to say that his uncle came "illegally"] He came to the village, to my father, to visit my father. He was from Tantura. My father's uncle told me that when the Jews entered Tantura, one of the soldiers made him lie down, took a knife, and was about to slaughter him. Then, one of the Jews from Zikhron recognized him and said to him [to the soldier with the knife]: "Let him go". "And then he saved me," he said. And he was taken as a prisoner. Put in prison. And then they expelled him to Jordan. And he said to me: "when we were standing there, with bound hands, all the men of Tantura. ... They killed five and then called for another five. And then when they finished those. ... And I counted one hundred and fifty men who were killed in this fashion. Five buried five."

Within the locality the story of the massacre traveled fast and intensified the Jizmawi fear of falling into Jewish hands. By July, Ijzim's men were extremely worried and predominantly trying to defend the village from a series of attacks. Following the road incident on 6 July, an IDF "retaliation attack" took place on 8 July but the soldiers failed to reach the villages. 46 Airplanes were extensively used by the IDF during the last two weeks. The airplanes were usually not fighters or bombers, but cargo and liaison planes (such as Dakotas and Pipers) from which bombs were dropped by hand. These airplane raids were something completely new to the villagers, noted Abu Na'i m: H

The Jews began to bomb with airplanes. I remember the first time there was a bomb. They were Pipers. It was dusk hour. The first to be killed by the first bomb was my aunt's husband, my mom's sister. And we thought that if you escaped under a tree the plane would not see us.

The air bombings lasted for two weeks. On the 12th of July at 21: 00 planes dropped 420 kg of explosives plus incendiary bombs on Ijzim. On the 17th, Ijzim was bombed again. On the 19th Ijzim was bombed twice. 47 On the 20th the air-raids preceded an infantry raid: ". ... From 19: 15 till 20: 10 [20.7] three flying fortresses and one Dakota bombed 'Ein Ghazal, Ijzim and Jaba'. ..all together four tons. .., the attack of the military police began at 23: 00." 48 This raid failed to capture the village and another one was organized a couple of days later, on the 24th at night, this time with a larger force. 49 The village fell to this attack, which was preceded by an air raid as well. 50 On the 25th at night, Ijzim was bombed again. The instructions to the pilot were as follows: "Enemy forces are concentrated on the hill dome half way between Ijzim and Jaba' and in the village of Ijzim. . ., Bomb the hilltop between Jaba' and Ijzim with 800 kg. and incendiary bombs between 01: 00- 02: 00 and 08: 00 with the same load." 51 The hilltop was probably empty when it was bombed on the next day as well. 52


The second truce began on 19 July, but as we see, the Jews did not respect the agreement in the case of Ijzim-Jaba'-- 'Ein Ghaza¯l. The final Jewish attack on Ijzim, under the guise of a police operation, began on Saturday night (24 July) and continued for two days and nights. On the second evening and night, between the 25 and 26 of July, the Arab fighters yielded and decided to retreat in a southeasterly direction, to 'Ara and 'Ar'ara, where the Iraqi army was encamped. Abu Da'ud summed up Ijzim's last week: H

For seven, eight days [there was bombing and fighting] night and day. That began on the main road. The army, the Hagana, soldiers, people from Ijzim, 'Ein Ghazal and Jaba'. One would shoot the other. Then, they [the Arab fighters] were left without arms, they had no bullets. They were about to run away. Sharif was from the leaders, officers, and 'Abdallah Zeidan, my uncle, my father's cousin. One [Sharif] says let's give up, the other ['Abdallah Zeidan] says no, and one says yes. They fled during Ramadan an, in the afternoon, only men, going towards Bat Shlomo.

Count Bernadotte, the United Nations' mediator, was in Haifa during these crucial days. On the 25th at mid-day, the fighters begged the Iraqis by radio to call him to their rescue although they also said of Bernadotte on the same radio transmission: "What can we do? They can violate the truce because Count Bernadotte is on their side." 53 Bernadotte did not interfere and on the next day Ijzim fell; the transmitter was now being used only for arranging vehicles to be sent to evacuate the women and children. 54

When the army entered Ijzim, it was practically empty. Six hundred women and children were in nearby Khirbet Qumbazeh, 55 either waiting for their caravan to leave for Wadi  'Ara or, as some were too young, old, sick or injured to walk another fifteen kilometers to 'Ara, they were getting organized to go to Dalyet al-Karmel and 'Isfiyyeh, only five kilometers away.

The hilly escape route to 'Ara was not safe. When the IDF realized the villagers were retreating through this route, ambushes were arranged along the route, near Wadi Mileh and Qanir 56 and roughly sixty people were killed on their way to 'Ara. 57 Hajid Had Saleh (the name is probably misspelled in the UN document), an elder of Ijzim, and 'Ali Mohammed Hanuti, a Sheikh of Ijzim, were questioned on 30 July 1948 by UN investigators regarding the circumstances of the fall of the village and the flight. In their joint statement they described what followed the last attack on 25 July:

. ..After these heavy attacks, women and children started for al-Maqura. During the move, women and children were attacked by plane machine gun fire but I could not estimate the casualties because everyone scattered. The men left the village and went back through the mountains to Jenin. The women and children were in charge of Sharif. Most women and children went to 'Isfiyyeh, Dalyet al-Karmel, 'Ar'ara and 'Ara. The people returned. 58 Jews stole cattle, sheep and machine-gunned the flocks and people. They stole money from the women. You can still find dead in the mountains. Nobody was allowed to take baggage. 59

Abu Na'im recalled the day of retreat: H

The people in the front lines were afraid of being caught and killed. They began [escaping]. We were in Maqu ra-- my family. People started passing by. "What happened?" [we asked]. They said--" we cannot hold on." They just threw down their rifles [saying]--"We have no ammunition, we have no food, we cannot carry on." Then he came, Sharif, and said "Let's talk, wait a couple of hours." People did not wait and everyone began. .. one fled, everyone started to flee. ...

Sharif was probably one of the few men to suspect that whoever left would not be able to come back. In those last critical days in Ijzim, Sharif lost his influence and there was a snowball effect among the escaping villagers. He chose to stay in Maqura, on his farm, yet ironically, a few years later he was compelled to sell the property to no other than Ya'aqov Salomon, the Jewish lawyer from Haifa.


Ma'oz, a Jewish officer who was outside the village when it was captured, remembered the scene when he approached the village after it was abandoned. He described the following when we met at his home in Haifa: H

There were villages that we would walk into and the houses were barren and poor. Shacks. ... But in this village there were stone houses, streets, two-story houses. You could tell the population here had a different standard of living. It also explained to us why they insisted on staying there. They were surrounded and should have left much earlier.

Reflecting on the villagers' escape, Ma'oz noted:

They sensed something was evolving from all kinds of directions. They did one of the cleverest things they could have done, they simply decided to leave the three villages. I do not know today whether they were given the chance or simply no one paid attention. They walked through one of the valleys, crossed Wadi Milek (Mileh in Arabic) and off to the direction of Umm al-Fahem.

Some elderly people and some women and children were found in the vicinity of the three villages and were transferred by the Jewish forces to the Iraqi lines. Roughly forty bodies were found in two concentrations, behind Ijzim's mosque and near 'Ein Ghazal's school. It was clear that there was not enough time to bury the dead and the corpses were covered with a thin layer of earth. 60

The Arab states filed a complaint to the UN central truce supervision board concerning the Israeli violation of the truce. A UN board investigated the case and found the great majority of the refugees in the Jenin area, in August 1948. From this report we hear that in the case of Ijzim, thirty-two people were reported killed, twenty-five were reported missing and 4153 were located. 61 The villagers who sought refuge at Dalyet al-Karmel were transferred to the Arab lines by the IDF in six buses on 17 August 1948, after they were made to sign a document stating they were going of their free will. 62 Those who evaded the first transfer were "collected" and placed near the border on 23 August 63 and again, in an operation named "Tie" on 6 October. 64

The correspondence between the Custodian of Arab Property, the body established by the Jewish State to supervise Palestinian land and goods, and the army testifies that individual soldiers as well as organized army units were the first to plunder Arab possession. For example, a tractor was taken by the Alexandroni unit just a couple of hours after the army entered the three villages. 65 Later, Jewish neighbors from the area gathered to "collect" what they could. An IDF report described the following: ". ... In the villages Ijzim and 'Ein Ghazal Jews were seen coming with carts from 'Atlit and the nearby surroundings and looting Arab property." 66

In the autumn of 1948, few Jizmawi families were permitted to come back from Dalyet al-Karmel and live in Ijzim. They were prevented from returning to their own homes so they settled in other Jizmawi houses and most of them had to work on Sharif's farm, which was still active in Maqura. 67 The Israeli Minister of Minority Affairs, Bekhor Shitrit, a personal friend of Sharif, 68 wrote a letter to General Avner, the head of the Military Government (Hamimshal Hatsva'ee), in favor of protecting these families and allowing them to remain in Ijzim. 69 This letter, like other letters found in this file, testifies to the diverging attitudes between the Minister, on the one hand, and the local army officer in charge, on the other hand. 70

The Jizmawi families who stayed in Ijzim "shared" it with soldiers and new Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia. Abu Na'im described how in the spring of 1949 the army decided to expel the Arab families from the village houses: H

One morning the army surrounded our dispersed neighborhood. They said--" You must move to your khirbeh [Maqura]. You have nothing to look for here." We said to the soldiers [whom they personally knew--" What's this?" They said--" We are sorry, we are just following orders. We know we have eaten with you and sat with you". ...
It wasn't like today, when an officer says something the whole world clamors. He gave the order to get out.
Efrat: And you had no one to turn to in this matter?
Abu Na'im: No one to turn to. We didn't even know there was police. We didn't know how to reach the police. The world was a closed state-- no one knew what was happening in his surroundings.

A few Jizmawi families remained in the vicinity of Ijzim, at khirbet Maqura and its vicinity, some until the 1970s, when they were eventually made to move out. The only one to remain after the 1970s in Maqura was Abu Mazen ('Ali al-Yunis al-Madi ) who went through years of lawsuits concerning ownership of his land. He died some years ago and his widow and younger children still live in Maqura, prevented by the state from refurbishing their run-down house and still involved with the courts. The great majority of refugees ended up far from the village-- in Iraq (to which they were taken by the Iraqi regent shortly after they arrived in Jenin as refugees in the summer of 1948), Syria, Jordan and the West Bank.


As the story of Ijzim unfolds--Sa'id al-Madani's act of revenge, prisoners kidnapped and exchanged, the Iraqi limited assistance, the fall of the village and the dispersal of its inhabitants-- the villagers' oral accounts and the army documents often complement each other and sometimes converge. Unlike Kurosawa's Rashomon, the testimonies of the witnesses do not significantly diverge. Knowing that the army documents were written shortly after the events (within a few hours or days), for internal use (usually being classified as "secret"), it may perhaps be expected that they carry relatively little imprint of the intervention and reconstruction of official state representations. It is more perplexing that the villagers' narratives are not highly inventive. We should bear in mind that these autobiographical accounts are records of a dramatic (and traumatic) period and the incidents have left an imprint on those who have lived through them. Furthermore, many of these incidents have been re-examined repeatedly after their occurrence, discussed in family settings and circulated among the dispersed village community.

At the same time, the oral sources and the written accounts diverge in their "spirit." The army documents lack a description of distinct people and their characteristics, especially those of "the enemy." This is due not only to the fact that the writers of these documents express a national Jewish sentiment but also to the nature and needs of military documentation. In contrast, the oral narrative revolves around certain people. There are memorable men such as the bus driver Sa 'id al-Madani or the man who was killed on al-Madan's bus, Tawfiq al-Murad. These men, through the years of story-circulation, have become symbols for the dispersed community. In other stories, each family has its own protagonist, as when Abu Na'im relates to his uncle Murshid who guarded the Jewish captives or when Abu Daud recalls his father's cousin, 'Abdallah Zeidan, who rejected the option of surrender. Unlike the army documents, the oral accounts are characterized by an ability to inject life, volume and an internal logic to the story. In fact, the logic of certain chaotic episodes may continue to unfold long after their occurrence.

The oral accounts are further animated by the naming of places, the inclusion of dialogues (though reconstructed, and as such, not totally faithful to the original ones), and exposure of the emotions and incentives that motivated the people. In the discussion regarding the evacuation of at-Tireh's women and children, we learn of the devastating emotional effect on the men when they were left without their families. It was not necessarily only strategic conditions such as the fall of Haifa that determined the outcome of the war. Rather, it was also the villagers' subjective interpretation of the meaning of such events. The fighters' motivation was impaired when the village's social fabric changed. In retrospect, the disintegration of the village, intensified through the months of sporadic fighting, is perceived as contributory to its fall.

No less devastating was the 'Iraqi failure to come to the rescue when the villagers were already desperate. The local story that emerges accentuates the gap between Arab political rhetoric and the actual practical conditions. Whereas the Arab States were vocal regarding their militant intentions, in practice, at least in the Carmel Region, their intervention was very limited. "Palestine" comes across as two different entities-- the symbolic, discursive one, as it looms in the general Arab attitude, and the actual land for which the villagers were fighting.

I choose to conclude with Abu Na'im's reflection on the fatal hasty escape from Ijzim. His narration blurs the division between the personal, the local and the national, as it epitomizes the kernel of the Palestinian tragedy:

The feeling was bad but we deceived ourselves, thinking we would be back next week. We did not feel as bad
as we should have because we thought we would be back in a week or two. What happened? People imagined
this was temporary, as if it was an outcome of rain or flood. We will move for a week and then the flood will be
71 This was the feeling that led to this catastrophe.


  1. This paper is a segment of a larger study entitled "Narratives of Exile: Palestinian refugee reflections on three villages, T Ç i ¯ret Haifa, Ijzim and 'Ain Hawd." Fieldwork, conducted between 1996 and 1998 comprised archival research and interviews with Palestinian refugees residing in Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. All of the interviewees appear under pseudonames. I would like to thank Paul Dresch, Samer al-Karanshawy, Benny Morris, and Jay Winter for their useful comments on this paper while it was still in the form of a doctoral chapter. More recently, Sahira Dirbas, Larry Lerner and Emmanuel Sivan offered their fine advice. The transliteration follows the spoken Palestinian dialect. For example, ta marbuta is transliterated as "eh," (as in mahrameh ). Words from written texts (unlike the oral narration) are transliterated as the literary Arabic. Names that have often appeared in English are left as they are in the English. The names of Arab authors who have published in English will appear without Arabic diacritics. In the Hebrew, the consonants are transliterated but no distinction is made between long and short vowels (since the Hebrew spelling of vowels varies).
  2. Israel Defense Force is the army's official name--Tsva Hahagana L'Yisrael in the Hebrew.
  3. The interrogations were conducted with men after the fall of the village. The IDF no longer needed details about the village but mainly wished to prove certain claims to the UN commission that was investigating the circumstances of the fall of Ijzim. Because of the terms used in these investigation reports (such as "gangs" for the village fighters and "police" for the Israeli army forces), I suspect that some reports were written by the Israelis and the villagers were made to sign. Hence, these reports are a dubious historical source but can shed light on the budding construction of the Israeli historical narrative. See, for examples, Israel State Archive, 2427/ 1 Foreign Ministry files.
  4. On the al-Madis see Manna' 1986; Al-Bash 1998; Yazbak 1998.
  5. This data is based on a census titled "Village Statistics" conducted by the British Mandate on 1 April 1945. An IDFA document, (2168/ 1950, file 57), from 17 September 1948, based on the last official British statistics from December 1946, states that the inhabitants of Ijzim numbered 3,140. The document is a memo adjunct to a letter to the Foreign Minister regarding the three villages. See also Khalidi 1992.
  6. See Stern 1980: 52. The division among the different segments of the population is presented in this atlas as follows: In 1922, according to a British census, there were 9,377 Moslems, 8,863 Christians, 6,230 Jews and 164 "others." The 1944 estimate is 35,900 Moslems, 26,600 Christians, 66,000 Jews and 300 "others." As the population is divided according to religion, it is not clear what percentage of the Christians was Arab, although it was clearly the great majority.
  7. Morris (1991: 150-154) wrote of the harsh conditions in Acre after the arrival of the refugees from Haifa and the outbreak of a typhoid epidemic. After a two-day attack, Acre surrendered to the Jewish forces on 18 May.
  8. These numbers are drawn from the above-mentioned Mandate "Village Statistics" of 1945. The population was probably slightly higher by 1948.
  9. See Slutsky 1965 (the Hagana history book), 1965: 1363± 4; Toldot Milhemet Haqomemiyut (The History of the War of Independence), 1959: 253; Lorch 1961: 277- 279.
  10. See html#1948. The Hagana was the main Jewish military arm during the pre-statc cra.
  11. The 1948 documents at Israel Defense Force Archive (IDFA) under Israel's Archival Law, were theoretically to remain closed for fifty years, namely until 1998. However, a special committee declassified some of these documents earlier, in light of the growing interest "generated by the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the State", writes the archivist, Yoram Mayorek (www. research. co. il). As the documents are not to be opened automatically but are still going through weeding and due to the slow work of the censors, the great majority of them are still unavailable to the public. Current access procedure is that the researcher approaches the archive and lists his/ her interests. The archivist chooses the relevant files and transfers them to a censor who weeds them. Then they are loaded on a computer. It is a matter of months until the researcher gains access to the documents. When a document has been weeded from a file, a form noting its general outline (who wrote to whom, when and the nature of the correspondence) is inserted in its place. In some documents only specific sentences or words are censored. One can guess from the context that it is mainly names of people or deeds such as civilians' expulsion that the archive still wishes to conceal.
  12. Moshe Carmel (1949) published his memoirs of the 1948 war. The conquest of Ijzim is mentioned in his book; the policy expressed in the following document is not.
  13. IDFA 244/ 1951 file 67 dated May 1948. Benny Morris commented that "to cleanse" might refer to army forces only.
  14. In many villages, elderly people and some women and children remained during the conquest. In the case of at-Tireh, for example, after the fall of the village, the captive men were taken for interrogation in prison and the Jewish forces transferred the rest of the population to the border with Jordan.
  15. When quoting from interviews, H before the quote signifies that the talk was in Hebrew; A before the quote signifies that the talk was originally in Arabic; E before the quote signifies that the talk was in English.
  16. Abu¯ Ashraf was one of the few people who used the new Jewish names when speaking of the places during the war of 1948.
  17. Tawfiq al-'A ref was one of the village makhatir (headmen).
  18. Taawfiq al-Murad is also mentioned by 'Awad and 'Abd ar-Razeq who now reside at Irbid's refugee camp when describing Ijzim's school teachers: 'Awad: "There were four to five teachers. There was amongst them Tawfiq al-Murad." 'Abd al-Razeq [who is sitting nearby, adds]: "Tawfiq al-Madi."
  19. When saying desk Jamil is referring to the seat in front.
  20. Haaretz (a Jewish newspaper), 3rd of February 1948, p. 4.
  21. IDFA 7249/ 1949, file 152 dated 4th of July 1948.
  22. IDFA 244/ 1951 file 67, 6 July 1948 [sent to the officer in charge of Haifa by the city's intelligence officer]. A shorter version in 922/ 1975 file 1176 dated 7 July 1948.
  23. As with Abu Ashraf, Abu¯ Na'i¯m uses the Hebrew names of the location. The two have been living in Israel since 1948.
  24. Dalia, the shortened name for Dalyet al-Karmel, the Druze village a couple of kilometers east of Ijzim.
  25. IDFA 4663/ 1949 file 46. The letter is dated 6 of July. The army document that quotes it is dated 10th of July.
  26. IDFA 6400/ 1949 file 66 dated 12 July 1948.
  27. Amongst the notes was another letter from Kupershtock to Salomon and a list of names of Arab prisoners held by the Jews.
  28. Kupershtock is probably referring to Sharif.
  29. Kupershtock may have reached this conclusion following his chat with Shafiq. Note that earlier on Shafiq mentioned that Kupershtock wanted to escape and that he warned him that it is dangerous.
  30. Israel State Archive 931/ 6/ P.
  31. IDFA 6400/ 1949 file 66.
  32. IDFA 7249/ 1949 file 137. Members of Etkes' family told me that not long after the establishment of the State of Israel, Etkes and his wife left for the USA (where he had spent a few years prior to his arrival in Palestine).
  33. IDFA 7249/ 1949, file 152, 14 March 1948 [An intelligence account from Hiram to Teneh]. Also filed elsewhere 5942/ 1949, file 23.
  34. IDFA 5942/ 1949, file 23, 16 March 1948 [An intelligence report from Hiram to Teneh].
  35. IDFA 7249/ 1949 file 152.
  36. Charles Tripp argued the above in a paper concerning the Iraqi involvement in Palestine in 1948. The paper was delivered at The Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Oxford, 4 December 1998. There is still a popular saying amongst the Palestinians regarding this Iraqi lack of orders: bayn aku
    wa-ma ku al filastiniyyun intaku
    between the presence [of orders] and the lack [of orders], the Palestinians were screwed. I thank Avraham Sela, who drew my attention to this saying General Jabu ri, who headed the Iraqi forces in Palestine in 1948, argued that the accusations regarding lack of orders are baseless. They are the outcome, he further added, of competition within the Arab League and between the different Arab army forces. Nafcz Nazzal (1978) describes the same lack of Iraqi orders in the Galilee region.
  37. IDFA 2506/ 1949 file 85. The correspondence is in English.
  38. IDFA 6400/ 1949 file 66 dated 4 July, 1948Ð". . .. The people of Ijzim receive small arms from Tulkarem, through paths in the mountains that pass by Umm az-Jima¯l near Zikhron." IDFA 6400/ 1949 file 66--". . .. No foreign army in Ijzim. ... Every night food supplies, ammunition, arms and equipment are transferred from the triangle to the village."
  39. Mishmar Ha'emeq is a Jewish kibbutz south east of Haifa.
  40. IDFA 7249/ 1949 file 152 dated 4 July, 48. The reference regarding relations with Umm az-Zinat is bewildering as Umm al-Zinat was conquered on the 15th of May.
  41. The army translator marks that he cannot identity the word mundel. In the Palestinian colloquial Arabic, munadilin, meaning fighters, is often used in a derogatory manner. I thank Issam Aburaiya for this information.
  42. This passage is translated from the Hebrew translation that is kept at the IDFA. The word used for "exposed" in Hebrew was "nitgalenu." IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3.
  43. Yig'al, who had been a politician and a Member of Parliament previously and was involved with the Arab population in Israel, imposed on his account of the war his right-wing world view. In 1948 he was an army officer in charge of a unit that set up ambushes in the fields north east of Tantura in order to prevent any assistance from arriving during the battle. He said to me that as far as he knows, over seventy people were killed. A Tantura survivor who lives in a nearby village said he recorded the names of the dead and the list reached 95 people. The information I have is not sufficient to be certain what happened in Tantura.
  44. Teddy Katz of Kibbutz Magal wrote his MA thesis (submitted to the University of Haifa) on the conquest of Tantura and Umm az-Zinat. His description of the Tantura massacre reached the Ma'ariv Hebrew daily newspaper, and the veterans of the Alexandroni brigade decided to sue him. The two sides signed an agreement before the trial in which Katz was to publicly denounce his findings. This led to the cancellation of the trial.
  45. Yusri of 'Ein Hawd Ç mentioned Tantura when trying to explain the decision to leave his own village: "There were some people who said no [to the option of surrendering--'We do not want to stay here. ' There were other reasons as well, especially the massacre of Tantura that they had witnessed in which a hundred people were killed. So people feared they [the Jews] will come and slaughter them."
  46. The attacking force included a unit from Alexandroni (most likely meaning a battalion); two three-inch mortars, ten men and an officer; two bizeh machines, ten men and an officer; a medical force; three communication devices; fourty Carmeli men who were brought in from a commanders' course; thirty garrison men. Whereas the field forces (h Ç eil sade ) were mobile and living in camps, the garrison forces (h Ç eil mishmar ) were comprised mostly of older men, above the age of 35, who would remain in their homes and be mobilized for local assignments. Therefore, some of the fighters on both sides knew one another. See IDFA 6400/ 49, file 66, and 2506/ 1949, file 85. 
  47. The documents regarding the air bombings of the 12th of July are IDFA 137( 38)/ 1951 file 178 as well as IDFA 922/ 1975 file 1182; the document regarding the 17th of July is IDFA 922/ 1975 file 1176; the document regarding the 19th of July is IDFA 922/ 1975 file 1032.
  48. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3. The units that participate in this attack, on the 21st of July, are six companies from the military police organized as three companies and one company from an auxiliary force organized as three companies (IDFA 7249/ 49, file 130).
  49. IDFA 922/ 75, file 1044Ð The final operation-- one battalion (Alexandroni number thirty-three) (roughly 900 soldiers) (only two companies from this battalion are mentioned in the description of the battle); one company from battalion twenty-one (Carmeli); one company from battalion fifteen (Golany). Supporting weapons-- two sixty-five millimeter cannons; two one hundred and twenty-millimeter mortars (heavy mortars); six armored cars from the 7th and 3rd brigades; bombers and
    battle aircraft.
  50. IDFA 137( 38)/ 1951 file 178: ". . ., bomb the south western part of the village Ijzim and the area that is between the village and the most eastern part of the way into village. Bomb load 1200 kg. incendiary bombs. Time 0030± 0130. Light target area with flares. First hit target with incendiaries
    and then systematically bomb targets hit by first bombs."
  51. IDFA 137( 38)/ 1951 file 178.
  52. IDFA 137( 38)/ 1951 file 178 dated 26 July 48--" bomb same dome at 10: 00 and search from low altitude.[. ..]".
  53. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3.
  54. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3. An intelligence report, compiled by the IDF and based on Arab sources gave the following description of how things developed in the three villages:. ... After a battle of a night and a day it was decided that all of the armed youngsters would leave the villages and break their way out towards A ¯ ra and 'Ar'ara. At dusk, 'Ein Ghazal and Jaba' were abandoned. The people gathered at Khirbet Kumba¯zeh and from there left in convoys, fifty to one hundred people in each
    convoy. Each convoy was secured (IDFA 922/ 1975 file 1044).
  55. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3 dated 27 July.
  56. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3.
  57. IDFA 922/ 1975 file 1044. According to this document eight hundred people reached 'Ara safely.
  58. One wonders what is meant when saying "the people returned." Possibly, it means that some of the people who stayed near by (in the mountains or in the Druze villages) tried to go back to the village and rescue their produce and belongings.
  59. Israel State Archive,
  60. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3.
  61. IDFA 2168/ 1950 file 26. As for 'Ein Ghaza¯l, twenty-two were reported killed, thirty-three were missing and 2,464 people were located; Jaba' -eight killed, five missing and 1,494 located.
  62. IDFA( 2) 716/ 1949 file 1.
  63. They were ninety people mainly from Ijzim: thirty-nine children, forty-four old women and seven old men. See IDFA 244/ 1951 file 129.
  64. IDFA 7249/ 1949 file 82.
  65. IDFA 4663/ 1949 file 125. Also 4663/ 1949 file 125 ÐIn this letter, the deputy officer of the Arab Property in Haifa writes to the head of the Alexandroni unit demanding the return of the property taken from the three villages.
  66. IDFA 5942/ 1949 file 3, dated 11 August 1948. In a letter Sharif writes to Shitrit, he wishes to be granted permission to rescue his property in Maqu ra "before it is presented to robbing and looting hands" (Israel State Archive, gimel 302/ 86). Already back in April 1948, a committee comprised of representatives from Jewish settlements was established in order to oversee the handling of Arab Property (IDFA 4663/ 1949 file 46). At the end of August they confiscate some looted property such as four horses found with four different people in Zikhron Ya'aqov (IDFA 4663/ 1949 file 125).
  67. Whereas the houses of Ijzim remained intact, most of the houses of Jaba' and 'Ein Ghazal, which were closer to the main road, were systematically destroyed shortly after they were seized.
  68. Sharif was a friend of Bekhor Shitrit for many years, from the time Shitrit had worked with the British Police Force. When the Israeli state was declared, Bekhor Shitrit became the Minister of the Minorities Office, and later, the Minister of Police.
  69. State Archive, gimel 1319/ 66, 12 December, 1948.
  70. State Archive 1319/ 66 gimel.
  71. The Palestinian poet Mu' in Bsisu used the same image in a poem on the Nakba. "And after the flood," he wrote, "nothing was left of this people or this land but the rope and the peg" (lam yatruk al-sil ghayer al-habal wal-watad min dhalika al-sha'ab aw min dhalika al-balad ). See the anthology compiled by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Kayyali¯, 1975: 235.


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ISSN 0275-7206 q 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/ 02757200290002860


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I would like to communicate with someone that would be interested in knowing that I was a little bit of this history in 1948 and 1949 I was with the United States Navy in the 6th Fleet. Would it be possible to make contact with someone that would be interested in some unusual information that I would have regarding the trip that was made to Haifa Palestine on my ship? Thank you, I'm Dan Salazar