Notorious massacres of Palestinians between 1937 & 1948


The Palestine Project
9 min readMay 13, 2015

According to hundreds of Palestinian, Arab, Israeli, and Western sources, both written and oral, Zionist forces committed dozens of massacres against Palestinians during what was called the 1948 “war”. Some of these are well-known and have been published while others are not. Below are some of the details of the most notorious massacres committed at the hands of Haganah and its armed wing, the Palmach, as well as the Stern Gang, the Irgun and other Zionist paramilitaries:

The Revisionist Zionist paramilitaries, the Irgun Zvai Leumi is known as “Irgun” and Lochamei Herut Yisrael is known as “Lehi” or “Stern Gang”.

Poster 1935: Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization in Erez Israel)

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 1/10/1937

A member of the Irgun Zionist organisation detonated a bomb in the vegetable market near the Damascus (Nablus) Gate in Jerusalem killing dozens of Palestinian civilians and wounding many others.

• The Haifa Massacre — 6/3/1937

Paramilitaries from the Irgun and Lehi Zionist groups bombed a market in Haifa killing 18 Palestinian civilians and wounding 38.

• The Haifa Massacre — 6/7/1938

Zionist Paramilitaries from the Irgun placed two car bombs in a Haifa market killing 21 Palestinian civilians and wounding 52.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 13/7/1938

10 Palestinian killed and 31 wounded in a massive explosion in the Arab vegetable market in the Old City of Jerusalem.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 15/7/1938

A member of the Irgun Zionist paramilitaries threw a hand grenade in front of a mosque in Jerusalem as worshippers were walking out. 10 were killed and 30 were wounded.

• The Haifa Massacre — 25/7/1938

A car bomb was planted by the Irgun paramilitaries in an Arab market in Haifa which killed 35 Palestinian civilians and wounded 70.

• The Haifa Massacre — 26/7/1938

A member of Irgun threw a hand grenade in a Haifa market killing 47 Palestinian civilians.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 26/8/1938

A car bomb placed by the Irgun Zionist paramilitaries exploded in a Jerusalem Arab market killing 34 civilians and wounding 35.

• The Haifa Massacre — 27/3/1939

The Irgun paramilitaries detonated two bombs in Haifa killing 27 Palestinians and wounding 39.

• The Balad Al-Shaykh Massacre — 12/6/1939

The Haganah paramilitaries raided the city of Balad Al-Shaykh capturing 5 residents who they then killed. The city of Balad Al-Shaykh is a Palestinian city located east of Haifa.

• The Haifa Massacre — 19/6/1939

Zionist paramilitaries threw a hand grenade in a Haifa market killing 9 Palestinians and wounding 4.

• The Haifa Massacre — 20/6/1948

78 Palestinians were killed and 24 wounded by a bomb placed inside a vegetable box in a Haifa vegetable market. The Irgun and Lehi paramilitaries were responsible for this.

• The Al Abbasiyah Massacre — 13/12/1947

A group of Irgun members disguised as British soldiers attacked the village of Al Abbasiyah and opened fire on its residents sitting outside a village café. They also bombed a number of their homes and planted several time bombs. Moreover, British soldiers surrounded the village and allowed the killers to escape from the northern side of the village. They killed 7 and severely wounded 7 others, 2 of whom died later including a 5 year old child.

• The Al-Khasas Massacre — 18/12/194

73 Zionists from the “Maayan Baruch” kibbutz attacked and shot 5 Palestinian workers on their way to work. During the attack, one of the Zionists was stabbed and killed prompting the commander of the Palmach third battalion, Moshe Kelman, to order a retaliatory operation to burn the homes and kill the men in Al-Khasas. The Zionist commander’s report notes that 12 were killed, all of whom were women and children.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 29/12/1947

Irgun paramilitaries threw a barrel full of explosives near Bab al-Amud (Damascus Gate) in Jerusalem which resulted in the death of 14 Palestinians and the wounding 27 others.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 30/12/1947

Irgun paramilitaries threw a bomb from a speeding car killing 11 Palestinians.

• The Balad Al-Shaykh Massacre — 31/12/1947

A joint force of the first Palmach battalion and a brigade led by Haim Avinoam attacked the Balad Al-Shaykh village killing 60 civilians, according to Zionist sources. Those killed included children, women and the elderly, and dozens of homes were destroyed.

• Al-Sheikh Break Massacre — 31/12/1947

Zionist paramilitaries groups raided the village of Al-Sheikh Break, killing 40 Palestinians.

• The Jaffa Massacre — 4/1/1948

The Zionist Stern Gang threw a bomb in a crowded plaza in Jaffa, killing 15 people and wounding 98.

• The Al-Saraya Massacre — 4/1/1948

On January 4, 1948 the Irgun Zionist paramilitaries placed a car full of explosives near Al-Saraya in Jaffa which destroyed all that surrounded it, killed 30 Palestinians and wounded several others.

• The Semiramis Massacre — 5/1/1948

The Haganah bombed the Semiramis Hotel located in the Katamon neighbourhood in Jerusalem. The hotel collapsed on its guests, all of whom were Palestinians, killing 19 and wounding over 20.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 7/1/1948

Irgun paramilitaries threw a bomb at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, killing 18 civilians and wounding 40 others.

• The Al-Saraya Al-Arabeya Massacre — 8/1/1948

Zionist paramilitaries used a car bomb to kill 70 Palestinian civilians and wound dozens.

• The Ramla Massacre — 15/1/1948

Palmach soldiers and the Haganah bombed one of the Arab neighbourhoods in Ramla.

• The Yazur Massacre — 22/1/1948

Yigael Yadin, a Haganah commander, ordered the Palmach commander, Yigal Allon, to carry out an operation against the village of Yazur. A group from the Palmach attacked a bus near Yazur, wounding the bus driver a several Palestinian passengers. On the same day, another group attacked another bus killing and wounding several people. These attacks by the Palmach and Givati Brigades on Palestinian villages and cars continued for 20 consecutive days while other units detonated bombs near village homes.

Then Haganah paramilitaries decided to attack the village and bomb the ice factory along with two buildings around it. A Haganah group opened fire on the ice factory in the village, while other groups opened fire and used hand grenades on the homes in the village. Moreover, an engineering group bombed the Askandroni building, the ice factory, and killed 15 people.

• The Haifa Massacre — 28/12/1948

Zionist paramilitaries from the Al-Hadar neighbourhood, located at the top of Al-Abbas Street in Haifa, rolled down a barrel filled with explosives destroying homes and killing 20 Arab citizens, as well as wounding 50 others.

• The Tabra Tulkarem Massacre — 10/2/1948

A group of Zionist paramilitaries stopped Palestinian citizens going back to the village of Tabra Tulkarem and opened fire on them, killing 7 and wounding 5 others.

• The Sa’sa’ Massacre — 14/2/1948

A Palmach force raided the village of Sa’sa’ and destroyed 20 inhabited homes, killing 60 villagers, most of whom were women and children.

• The Jerusalem Massacre — 20/2/1948

The Stern Gang stole a British army vehicle, filled it with explosives, and placed it in front of the Al Salam building in Jerusalem. The explosion killed 14 Palestinians and wounded 26.

• The Haifa Masacre — 20/2/1948

Zionist paramilitaries attacked the Palestinian neighbourhoods in Haifa with mortar fire killing 6 and wounding 36 others.

• The Al-Husayniyya Massacre — 13/3/1948

Haganah paramilitaries raided the village of Al-Husayniyya, destroying homes with explosives and killing over 30 families.

• The Abu Kabir Massacre — 31/3/1948

Paramilitaries from Haganah carried out an armed attack on the Abu Kabir neighbourhood in Jaffa. They destroyed homes and killed residents fleeing their homes to seek help.

• The Cairo Train Massacre, Haifa — 31/3/1948

The Stern Gang planted bombs on a Cairo-Haifa train which killed 40 people and wound 60 others on explosion.

• Ramla Massacre — 1/3/1948

Zionist paramilitaries planned and carried out this massacre in March 1948 in a market in the city of Ramla, killing 25 Palestinian civilians.

• The Deir Yassin Massacre — 9/4/1948

A group of 120 from the two Revisionist (“right-wing”) Zionist paramilitaries, the Irgun Zvai Leumi (Irgun) and Lochamei Herut Yisrael (Lehi or Stern Gang) attacked the village of Deir Yassin, accompanied by tanks.

About 100–120 of its residents, a great number of whom were women and children, were massacred. The village was a Palestinian Arab town of about 750 located west of Jerusalem. The “massacre” actually occurred in three distinct phases to be discussed below.

On the evening of April 9th, the Irgun leader publicly exaggerated the death toll in order to terrorize Arabs in Palestine. This was near the end of the British Mandate as Arab-Jewish fighting escalated. The 254 figure is almost certainly an exaggeration, but not an Arab exaggeration.

Their top consideration was economic as this was during Abdul Khader al-Husseini’s cutoff of supplies to Jewish West Jerusalem. As attack plans grew, however, they discussed massacring all the villagers or just the males and any other resisters. The purpose was to frighten Palestine’s Arab residents into flight and defeat and to take revenge for attacks and previous atrocities perpetrated against Jewish forces. An order from Irgun Commander-in-Chief Menachem Begin reportedly told them to observe the Geneva Convention. Whether this order was taken seriously or passed along effectively is unclear. It is clear that the night before the attack some were still talking about inflicting large casualties to send a message of fear to the Arabs of Palestine.

• The Qalunya Massacre — 14/4/1948

A force from the Palmach Zionist paramilitary group raided Qalunya, bombed several homes and killed 14 of its residents.

• The Nasir al-Din Massacre — 13/4/1948

A group consisting of forces from the Irgun and Stern Gang in disguise raided the village of Nasir al-Din opening fired on its inhabitants and killing 50 people. On the previous day, both Nasir al-Din and Al-Shaykh Qadumi were attacked and 12 were killed.

• The Tiberias Massacre — 19/4/1948

Zionist paramilitaries bombed a home in Tiberias, killing 14 of its residents.

• The Haifa Massacre — 22/4/1948

Zionist paramilitaries attacked Haifa from Hadar Alkarmel and occupied homes, streets and public buildings killing 50 Palestinians and wounding 200 others. The residents were taken by surprise, so they took their women and children to the marina to move them to the city of Akka during which they were attacked by Zionists paramilitaries who killed 100 civilians and wounded 200 others.

• The Ayn al-Zaytoun Massacre — 4/5/1948

Ayn al-Zaytoun is a Palestinian village on the outskirts of Safed, the population of which was 820. The Jewish writer, Netiva Ben-Yehuda writes in her book “Through the Binding Ropes” about the Ayn al-Zaytoun Massacre saying: “on May 3rd or 4th, 1948, nearly 39 bound prisoners were shot.”

• The Safed Massacre — 13/5/1948

The Haganah slaughtered about 70 young men from Safed, but there are no details about this massacre.

• The Abu Shusha Massacre — 14/5/1948

Zionist paramilitaries committed an ugly massacre in the village of Abu Shusha, killing about 60 of its residents, including men, women, children and the elderly. The massacre ended with the expulsion of all the residents of the village from their homes, which were then gradually demolished.

• The Beit Daras Massacre — 21/5/1948

A Zionist force supported by tanks surrounded the village of Beit Daras and opened fire on it. The people of the village realised the critical situation and decided to endure the fire and defend their homes at any cost, so they urged the women, children and the elderly to leave the village to lessen their losses. The women, children and the elderly headed towards the southern area of the village, and once they reached the outskirts, were met with Zionist gunfire, despite the fact that they were defenceless. A large number of them were killed, and the forces burned down several homes and bombed others.

• The Al-Tantura Massacre — 22/5/1948

This massacre was carried out by the third battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade and the Zionist plan was to attack the village from two sides; the north and south. One brigade was to block the road, while a naval boat blocked the withdraw route by sea. Every attacking unit was provided with a guide from the neighbouring Zikhron Ya’akov settlement, whose residents knew their way around the village, and the brigade leadership kept a reserve unit for emergencies. Al-Tantura did not initiate a battle with the Haganah, but refused their terms, so the attackers took the men to the village graveyard, lined them up, and killed 200–250 of them.

SOURCE: Addustour, 15 May 2013

The Palestine Project