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Qibya massacre
Cat : Axe of Evil
Date : 2006-10-14 22:59:38                      Reader : 325

challenges UN for decades , what is left for UN as role to play in Middle East?!

Refdesk.com 14/10/2006

Qibya massacre

The Qibya (also spelt Kibya, Qibieh or Qibye) Massacre (also known as "Qibya Raid" or "Qibya Operation") was carried out in October 1953 by Israeli troops in a West Bank village.

The operation at Qibya was carried out by two Israeli units: a paratroop company and Unit 101, a special forces unit of the IDF that conducted retaliatory raids against Arab marauders. Unit 101 was founded by and commanded by Ariel Sharon. The Qibya raid led to the deaths of over 60 Palestinian Arabs and the demolition of most houses in Qibya, a village in the western West Bank, which was then under Jordanian control. Many Qibya residents evacuated, but some stayed, hiding in their homes. On October 18, 1953, the U.S. State Department issued a bulletin denouncing the Qibya raid, demanding that those responsible be "brought to account." Events leading up to the attackThe attack was the result of escalating border clashes which had begun almost immediately after the signing of the armistice in 1949. The state of Israel was confronted by a wave of Palestinian infiltrations. In 1951, 137 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed by such infiltrators. The following year, the death toll was 162. In 1953, 160 Israelis were killed. The Qibya massacre was claimed to be a case of Israeli response to these infiltrations.

On October 12 1953, an unarmed Jewish mother and her two children were killed in a raid by Jordanian infiltrators in the Israeli town of Yehud. The Israeli government decided to carry out a retaliatory operation against the village of Qibya in the West Bank. The order was given by Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon, in coordination with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The Israeli elected governing cabinet was not informed, and apparently Foreign Affairs Minister Moshe Sharett was, according to some sources, also not informed of the order. On October 13, at the meeting with the MAC (Mixed Armistice Commission), the Jordanian representative denounced the attack on Yahud and promised Israel full cooperation in tracking down the murderers. Jordan asked Israel to refrain from retaliation. (The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, pp 90–93) Sharett said later that "the Commander of the Jordan Legion, Glubb Pasha, had asked for police bloodhounds to cross over from Israel to track down the Yahud attackers" (Jerusalem Post, 31 October 1965). The massacreThe raid at Qibya took place on the evening of October 14 1953. It began with an artillery barrage at the village until Israeli troops reached the outskirts of the village. Landmines were laid out on roads to prevent Jordanian troops from joining the fight. When the village had been cleared of resistance, Israeli soldiers laid explosives around many of the houses and blew them up after calling for residents to evacuate. At dawn the operation was considered complete and the Israeli troops returned home.

Forty-five villagers' houses had been destroyed, as well as the mosque, the school, and the water reservoir. Over 60 people were killed, two thirds of them women and children. The rest of the village population, around 2,700 people, had decided to evacuate after being ordered to do so by Sharon's men[citation needed]. The Israeli government initially claimed that the killing had been carried out by Jewish civilians living near the border, but later admitted that it had been carried out by military forces.

The IDF claims that the plan was to ambush Arab Legion forces in the area, by destroying some houses as a decoy. The original orders issued by the Israeli General Staff were relatively limited in scale, instructing the forces to "carry out an attack … with the aim of temporary occupation and the demolition of houses, and to harm the inhabitants". However, going down the command chain, before they reached the unit's commanders, the orders changed to demand "maximum killing"[1].

Ariel Sharon later wrote in his diary that he had received orders to inflict heavy damage on the inhabitants of Qibya: "The orders were utterly clear: Qibya was to be an example for everyone". Sharon said that he had thought the houses were empty and that the unit had checked all houses before detonating the explosives. In his autobiography Warrior (1987) he wrote:


"I couldn't believe my ears. As I went back over each step of the operation, I began to understand what must have happened. For years Israeli reprisal raids had never succeeded in doing more than blowing up a few outlying buildings, if that. Expecting the same, some Arab families must have stayed in their houses rather than running away. In those big stone houses […] some could easily have hidden in the cellars and back rooms, keeping quiet when the paratroopers went in to check and yell out a warning. The result was this tragedy that had happened."


Israeli historian Benny Morris expresses doubt in this claim, considering the nature of the orders Unit 101 received. He also points to the fact that U.S., U.N., and Arab Legion reports indicate that villagers were killed before the demolition of the houses began. The U.N. observer who inspected the scene, Major General Vagn Bennike, chief of staff of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization (which investigated the scene the next day) said: "one story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them." ResultsInitially, via the media, the Israeli public was left unaware of the attack. On October 19, Ben-Gurion claimed that the raid had been carried out by Israeli civilians.


"None deplores it more than the Government of Israel, if ... innocent blood was spilled ... The Government of Israel rejects with all vigor the absurd and fantastic allegation that 600 men of the IDF took part in the action ... We have carried out a searching investigation and it is clear beyond doubt that not a single army unit was absent from its base on the night of the attack on Qibya." (Statement by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, ISA FM 2435/5)


The attack had far-reaching consequences. It was widely criticized, not only by the international community, but also by many Israelis themselves. The UN Security Council condemned Israel in a resolution on November 24, and the United States temporarily suspended economic aid to Israel. Many Muslims see the raid as an act of terrorism.

Ariel Sharon wrote in his autobiography that, although the civilian casualties were regrettable, after the Qibya operation "it was now clear that Israeli forces were again capable of finding and hitting targets far behind enemy lines." Following the attack, the Arab Legion forces deployed on the border segment near Qibya to stop further infiltrations and deter further Israeli incursions. There was a brief overall reduction in incursions along the border.

Following the attack, the Israeli leadership decided to refrain from directly targeting civilians. It was decided furthermore to cancel the independence of Unit 101, which however continued to participate in retaliatory attacks against military targets as a part of the 202nd Paratroop Brigade.


 
 
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