A testimony by a former Israeli soldier has given details of ethnic cleansing atrocities committed by Israeli troops in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Amnon Neumann said he participated in the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages in southern Israel.
Neumann, a former member of the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah, said in a video testimony, that Israeli troops engaged in ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians, and burned entire villages. He confessed that he helped in killing men and chasing off women and children. Neumann said: "This is very clear. We came to inherit the land. Who do you inherit from? If the land is empty you inherit it from no one. The land was not empty when we inherited it."
Neumann revealed that Israel continued expelling Palestinians until 1951.
The old fighter blamed "Zionist ideology" for the 1948 war. He said: "The land was not empty when we inherited it. Like all ultranationalist movements, Zionism requires the murder and expulsion of people and the destruction of all evidence of their existence. Those not destroyed must be permanently subjugated by the ethnicity in charge."
Palmach Photograph Archive
Sappers from the Palmach Harel Brigade in ruins of a destroyed village. 1948.
Israeli Pikiwiki project
Women of the Palmach at Ein Gedi, 1942
Neumann said there were hardly any battles with the Palestinians because they did not have the military capacity to resist the Israeli forces and were very disorganized.
Palestinians still refer to Israel's 1948 occupation of Palestinian territory as the "day of catastrophe," or "Nakba Day." It is believed that about 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes by Israeli troops and forced to flee to other countries.
Palestinian girl in a protest on Nakba Day 2010 in Hebron, West Bank. Her sign says "Surely we will return, Palestine."
Press TV reports Palestinians have since been asserting the right of displaced people to return to lands they were forced to abandon in the 1948 to 1967 Israeli-Arab wars, but the Israeli authorities have refused to concede the right.