What is the first smell that comes to mind when a person thinks of their childhood? Oven-baked sweets on a rainy evening? The first love gift, a yellow flower picked from the school garden? Or is it simply that unique smell that no child can describe despite knowing it before being born, the smell of a mother? Perhaps Rahma Ibrahim Al-Haj had such memories before the age of seven, but afterwards there was a single smell that replaced it all and remained with her for the rest of her life. It is the smell of the flesh of the burned sons and daughters from her razed village, in the middle of a harvested field on a July evening in 1948.
When she saw groups from the Haganah distributing flyers that threatened the villagers and warned them of cooperating with the
On the dawn of April 9 1948, a month before the events of Tantura and two weeks after the signing of a peace truce requested by the heads of neighboring Jewish settlements and signed on by
“The aggressors never fought such a battle before” the French author Patrick Mercier said in a testimony. “It was easier for them to throw bombs in the middle of crowded markets rather than attack a village that fought for itself. For that reason, they were not able to advance in the face of this violent fighting.”
To confront the steadfastness initiated by Deir Yasin, the attackers had to use the Palmach forces present in one of the military camps near Jerusalem, who then began to bomb the village with mortars to advance the mission. At noon, the village had been completely emptied of any resistance. Thus, as Mercier explains in his testimony, the Irgun and Stern forces decided to use dynamite. This is how they got control of the village after destroying house after house.
As with the Tantura massacre, historians differ on the number of deaths from the Deir Yasin massacre. Palestinian sources confirm that the number ranges between 250 and 360 people, while Western sources recall that the number of those killed did not exceed 107. The journalists that were able to cover the Deir Yasin massacre agree that the number of people killed reaches 254 villagers. The consensus which does exist surrounding the Deir Yasin massacre holds that the levels of torture and abuse were unprecedented. Perhaps it is because the resistance from inside the village was unexpected. It made the men and women of the Irgun and Stern Gang, “who were people with high ideals” says Mercier, “transform into ‘butchers; that kill brutally and coldly just as the Nazi forces did.”
After the fall of Haifa on April 22, 1948, thousands of refugees flooded from Haifa to Acre. The city, still under British control, began to crowd. Zionist forces surrounded the city in the first week of May and fired at it with a barrage of mortar bombs.
This is how the land was emptied of its inhabitants and how the story of exile, diaspora, and the Nakba began. Palestinians kept their country, their homes, their villages, and their memories in their hearts forever.