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Israel accused of destroying evidence of ethnic cleansing during the Nakba

ISRAEL is accused of using a secret department to destroy evidence of ethnic cleansing during the mass expulsion of Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1948.

During the period of the Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic, over 700,000 people (about half of the pre-war population) were forced to flee their homes.

A report from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz claimed a section of the country’s Defence Ministry, known as the director of security of the defence establishment (Malmab), destroys documents that run counter to Tel Aviv’s version of events.

The official Israeli narrative maintains that the Palestinians left their homes voluntarily after they were persuaded to do so by Arab leaders and politicians.

But the Haaretz report “found that Malmab has concealed testimony from IDF generals about the killing of civilians and the demolition of villages, as well as documentation of the expulsion of Bedouin during the first decade of statehood.”

Malmab was established by Yehiel Horev in 2007 to search archives for sensitive information concerning Israel’s secret nuclear programme. 

But the body has also hidden hundreds of documents relating to the Nakba, including those that had previously been declassified.

One such document is an Israeli military intelligence paper from June 1948 called “the emigration of the Arabs of Palestine.”

It lists the reasons for the Palestinians fleeing their homes including “direct, hostile Jewish [Haganah/IDF] operations against Arab settlements” and says “70 per cent of the residents left their communities and migrated as a result of these actions.” 

The document describes in great detail the ethnic cleansing of 219 villages and four cities, with further depopulation occurring after it was written.

It has been cited by historians Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, although is among the documents “disappeared” by Malmab.

Another document hidden by Malmab reads: “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 six elderly men. There were 61 bodies. Three cases of rape, one from Safed, girl of 14, four men shot and killed. From one they cut off his fingers with a knife to take the ring.”

The Haaretz report claimed that Malmab had threatened directors of public and private archives as part of its cover-up operation. 

Mr Horev maintained that “it makes sense to conceal the events of 1948, because uncovering them could generate unrest among the country’s Arab population.”

Israel denies the right of return to Palestinian refugees driven from their land in 1948, despite United Nations rulings.

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