The movie “Al-Tantura”… Testimonies of a massacre and a mass grave that Israel tried to obliterate in the Nakba

Occupied Jerusalem – The film “Al-Tantura” by Israeli director Alon Schwartz, which documents the testimonies of soldiers from the “Alexandroni Brigade” admitting to committing the massacre of the Palestinian village of al-Tantura and burying its martyrs in a mass grave, did not surprise insiders and historians, but rather to the Palestinians in general, because it did not bring anything new, but it confirmed the sincerity of the Palestinian narrative. previously documented.

The massacre was committed in the village of Al-Tantura on the Mediterranean coast, most of its people, estimated at 1200, were displaced during the Nakba to the nearby village of Al-Furadis, and some of them settled there.

For the most part, the settlers who lived in the settlement of “Zikhron Ya’aqub”, after it was established on the ruins of the nearby abandoned town “Zamrin”, forced them to leave, so they dispersed until some of them settled in the Yarmouk camp in Syria or in the Irbid area in Jordan and some Arab villages in the Palestinian interior.

According to Palestinian researchers, other testimonies about the Tantura massacre, previously documented in the Palestinian archives, along with the testimonies of Israeli soldiers, can be used to follow up on the Israeli massacres before international courts.

At the local level, researchers and historians believe that pressure must be exercised on the Israeli authorities and obligated to open a criminal investigation and document the crime regarding the mass grave in Tantura, under impartial international supervision and by specialized experts.

Aerial photography of the village of Tantora in 1947, before the massacre, obtained by the film crew from the Israeli archives (Al-Jazeera)

The destabilization of the Israeli narrative

Sami Al-Ali, the researcher in the production crew of the movie “Al-Tantora” believes that it is the beginning of a popular trial for the perpetrators of the massacre, and the establishment of an international public opinion that strengthens the Palestinian narrative. It will push for a just solution and build an alliance that exposes the colonial occupation and its practices, and shakes the Israeli myths about the “moral and human” claims of the army.

Al-Ali, who is from the coastal village of Jisr Al-Zarqa, adjacent to Al-Tantura, explains to Al-Jazeera Net that, in addition to the confessions of some of the participants in the massacre, the film sought to sift through the Israeli archive and expose the policy that sought to obliterate the Palestinian narrative, and change facts and evidence.

The film is based on the accounts and testimonies spanning 140 hours, from survivors of the massacre and participants in its commission. It was also based on the disclosure of documents in the Israeli archives that include confessions of some officers during their correspondence with committing the massacre and killing the residents without referring to the number of victims and placing the bodies in a mass grave.

The location of the mass grave in which some victims of the Tantura massacre were buried, and their remains were transferred to an unknown location in 1949 (Al-Jazeera)

Mass grave and concealment of victims

In an effort to cover up the massacre, Al-Ali says that the Israeli archive filmed a movie after the massacre and the catastrophe, as if Al-Tantora was empty, before the Jewish gangs occupied it.

What the film revealed did not stop at the confessions of 4 soldiers from the Alexandroni Brigade who participated in the massacre. A three-dimensional aerial photograph of the area showed that a crater was dug in 1948, after the massacre, with a length of 35 meters, a width of 4 meters, and a depth of one meter.

The pit turned into a mass grave in which the victims of the Tantura massacre, whose number ranged between 90 to 200, were buried. Nearly a year later, i.e. in 1949, the mass grave was dug and the bodies of the victims were recovered, and their fate is not yet known, according to Al-Ali.

Testimonials and stories

Palestinian historian Ibrahim Abu Jaber, author of the “Encyclopedia of Reviving Palestinian Memory”, entitled “The Wound of the Nakba,” says that despite “the fragmentary testimonies of some of the Jewish killers who participated in the Tantora massacre, the film is a new addition to shed light on Tantora and its massacre.”

Abu Jaber explains – to Al Jazeera Net – that the confessions of some killers from the “Alexandroni Brigade” are consistent with what was documented by some of those who chronicled the events of the Nakba, especially about the killing and the mass grave, but their accounts are incomplete and do not rise to the truth of what happened and what many eyewitnesses and survivors mentioned. The massacre.

Abu Jaber had documented testimonies of the sons of al-Tantura who had lived through bloody events since the night of May 22, 1948, when the 33rd Battalion of the Alexandroni Brigade besieged it from the sea and from three sides, after the displacement of more than 48 families, or approximately 1,200 of its residents.

According to the testimonies of the survivors, the attacking Jewish forces were initially repelled. The attackers used two British Royal Air Force planes to bombard al-Tantura and the nearby village of Ijzim. Then the 33rd Battalion invaded the village and proceeded to commit the massacre and the displacement of the population, which was looted by the Zionist gangs.

What was also confirmed, the historian Abu Jaber says, “The martyrs were buried in two mass graves, the first mentioned in the movie, and the other for young men on the sea coast. In only one cemetery were 98 martyrs, including two women, as well as incidents of assault on women and theft of every valuable thing they carried, whether money or Gold coin.”

Surviving witnesses also stated that one soldier shot 12 people dead. Abu Jaber says, “The scene shown in the film is never complete compared to what happened to the residents of Tantoura. There are many facts that are absent and not mentioned.”

Members of the Jewish gangs transfer the residents of Tantoura to the areas of Jenin and Tulkarm and prevent them from returning to their village (Al-Jazeera)

Judicial path despite obstacles

Abu Jaber believes that it is possible to rely on what was mentioned in the film as a basis for opening a criminal file against the perpetrators of the massacre, but he needs more information so that the picture is complete and the data becomes sufficient to prosecute the killers.

He clarifies that any party can file a complaint against the murderers of the Jewish gangs and the Israeli authorities, and through the relatives of the martyrs or on their behalf, legal institutions, human rights organizations or parties, these lawsuits can be filed.

Regarding the obstacles to the internationalization of the massacres of the Nakba, Abu Jaber said, “It is not that easy. America supports Israel with the International Criminal Court, but locally, the Israeli judiciary provides protection for soldiers, despite that the criminals must be prosecuted regardless of the outcome.”

Confirm the emphatic

The researcher in antiquities and sacred sites Abdel Razek Matani returns to what he documented many years ago for some gravestones at Tantura, saying, “The Israelis’ confessions confirm what we Palestinians said and documented about massacres and ethnic cleansing during the Nakba.” He continued, “These Israeli testimonies confirm the certainty, but they would open The files of the Nakba massacres again.

Matani believes that the new Israeli confessions that confirm the authenticity of the Palestinian narrative and testimonies constitute a cornerstone for putting forward the metaphor of the Nakba before the international judiciary, or even moving the file of the Tantura massacre before the Israeli judiciary, especially after revealing the existence of a mass grave at the entrance to the village.

Matani explains that over the past six decades, Palestinian researchers have documented dozens of crimes and massacres of survivors of massacres, including: the massacres in the villages of Deir Yassin, al-Dawaima and Balad al-Sheikh, and the massacres of Hamama and Jaffa, noting that there are live testimonies that documented the atrocities committed by Jewish gangs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.