An IDF intelligence report from 1948, which is published in full for the first time here, having been concealed ever since it was uncovered in the 1980s, contradicts the Israeli narrative about the major factor in the displacement of Israel’s Arab residents during the 1948 war. According to this document, during the early months of the war, operations by Jewish combatants were the major cause of Arab displacement, and the role played by the Arab leadership in encouraging “flight” was negligible. Akevot Institute publishes the full document upon publication of its report SILENCING: DSDE’s Concealment of Documents in Archives.
During the first break in the fighting in the war of 1948, the IDF Intelligence Department compiled a report about the scale of Arab displacement since the beginning of the war. The 25-page document entitled “Migration of Eretz Yisrael Arabs between December 1, 1947, and June 1, 1948”, concludes that the displacement of some 70% of the Arabs during this time should be attributed to military operations carried out by Jewish forces, while orders given by Arab leaders impacted the displacement of only 5%. The report itself, spanning ten pages, reviews the scale of the migration and its causes and presents the areas where the displaced arrived. The annex contains a detailed list of the communities from which Palestinians were displaced and the degree of and reasons why each and every one of these communities was emptied of residents.
The document was first uncovered in the Hashomer Hatzair Archive (Yad Ya’ari) in the mid-1980s, by historian Benny Morris, who used it as the basis for his published article entitled “The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: The Israel Defence Forces Intelligence Branch Analysis of June 1948”. (1) Morris flagged several factual errors, but found the report to be reliable overall.
After Morris’ article was published in 1986, the document was removed from public access, initially on the orders of the Chief State Archivist, and later on the orders of the DSDE as part of wide-ranging and unlawful work carried out by the Director of Security of the Defense Establishment to deny public access to documents in various archives. See Akevot Institute’s report SILENCING: DSDE’s Concealment of Documents in Archives, published in tandem with this posting. Akevot Institute researchers found another copy of the document at the Yad Ya’ari Archive and it is published here, in full, for the first time.
We are grateful to Hashomer HaTzair (Yad Yaari) Archive in Givat Haviva for the kind permission to publish this document.