Balad al-Shaykh massacre
Balad al-Shaykh, was a Palestinian Arab village, now part of the Israeli town of Nesher where a massacre was perpetrated on the night of December 31, 1947, to January 1, 1948. The Palmach, an arm of the Haganah, attacked the town while the residents were asleep, firing from the slopes of Mount Carmel, in retaliation for the killing of 39 Jews during the Haifa Oil Refinery massacre the day before, 30 December 1947, which itself was triggered by the attack of the Zionist paramilitary group, the Irgun, who threw a number of grenades at a crowd of 100 Arab day laborers who had gathered outside the main gate of the British-owned Haifa Oil refinery looking for work, resulting in 6 deaths and 42 wounded. The Jewish agency condemned the Irgun for the "act of madness" that preceded the killing of Jewish workers at the Haifa oil refinery but at the same time authorized the raid on Balad al-Shaykh.
Israeli historian Benny Morris writes:
- The Haganah massively retaliated on the night of 31 December 1947 - 1 January 1948 raiding the villages of Balad al Sheikh and Hawassa, in which many of the refinery's workers lived. The raiding unit's orders were to 'kill maximum adult males'. The raiders penetrated to the center of Balad al Sheikh, fired into and blew up houses, and pulled out adult males, and shot them. According to the HGS, 'the penetrating units... were forced to deviate from the line agreed upon and in a few cases hit women and children' after being fired upon from inside houses. The Haganah suffered two dead and two injured. Haganah reports put Arab casualties variously at 'about 70 killed', and 21 killed ('including two women and five children') and 41 injured. (Morris, 2004, p. 101).
A contemporary report in The Times refers to 17 Arab dead, including one woman, and thirty-three injured, among them eight women and nine children. The Jewish casualties were three dead and two injured.
During the same day twelve Jews and four Arabs were injured in several cases of bomb throwing and shooting in Haifa.
- Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War, Yale University Press, p.406.
- Pappe, 1999, p. 119.
- Morris, Benny (2003). The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-00967-7
- 'The British Withdrawal From Palestine: Possible Advance Of Date By Six Weeks, 17 Killed In Attack On Arab Village', The Times, Friday, January 2, 1948; pg. 4; Issue 50958; col A.
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