For 73 years, large sections of the meeting minutes of the provisional government (1948-1949) were confidential and closed to the public. Following pressure from Akevot, most of the redactions made by the State Archives have been removed. The recently exposed sections teach us what the heads of state knew during the war: testimonies about massacres and war crimes came to the attention of ministers, and the government had a long and difficult discussion on the issue. However, contrary to the demands of some of the ministers, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion decided not to examine in-depth these suspicions and avoided questioning soldiers.
We publish here three of the meeting minutes. The redactions that appear in the documents are sections that remain redacted by the State Archives even after exposing most of the pages.
In the second half of October 1948, the IDF launched two large-scale operations. One, Operation Yoav, was designed to break through to the Negev. The other, Operation Hiram, conquered the Galilee, as well as 14 villages in southern Lebanon for six months. In November and December of that year, members of the government received reports of atrocities and massacres carried out by Israeli soldiers toward civilians and prisoners of war during these two operations – events in which approximately 200 people were killed.
These reports led – for the first time during the war – to a long discussion around the cabinet table on how to investigate suspicions of crimes committed during the war and how to treat the perpetrators of these crimes. The minutes from three cabinet meetings (November 7, November 17, and December 5), which are presented here for the first time, have remained partially confidential since they were first disclosed in 1995. Now, 73 years after the events, they provide a glimpse into the consciousness and fears of decision-makers, as well as to the deep disagreement that prevailed between most of the ministers and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion regarding taking action against soldiers suspected of committing crimes. While most government ministers sought to thoroughly investigate the events and to deal with the severity of the suspected crimes – Prime Minister Ben-Gurion firmly opposed the investigation of soldiers and suspected atrocities. Eventually, the government refrained from an in-depth investigation.
The full article by Akevot’s researcher Adam Raz was published in Haaretz newspaper.
To read the article: https://akvt.in/Haaretz_protocols_48