The Institute for Palestinian Israeli Conflict Research (Akevot) published new pages from the diaries of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, dating between 1948 and 1953.
Ben-Gurion’s journals expose many secrets, such as having Mizrahi Jews surveilled, trying to get Palestinian refugees to leave and detailing rapes committed by soldiers.
In one entry, Ben-Gurion explained how he gave orders to army forces to pester Palestinian refugees to force them to move eastward so that they would not return to their homes and territories in the area that Israel occupied in 1948.
In some cases, refugees from al-Ramla and Lod cities fled to Gaza through Ramallah because they thought it will be easier for them to return to their homes from there, Ben-Gurion wrote.
To avoid their return, the government ensured they were given a hard time to move east (to Jordan) because they will not head to the sea and Egypt will not receive them, he added.
On September 26, 1948, Ben-Gurion wondered who would prevent refugee attempts to return to their homes and cities that had come under Israeli occupation. Yosef Weitz, director of the Land and Afforestation Department of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), suggested the first Director of the Mossad, Reuven Shiloah, with the help of Weitz’s Transfer Committee.
The committee was founded during the Palestine War in 1948 in order to implement the Israeli government’s policies related to Arab refugees, especially means of encouraging them to leave the country.
On April 2, 1950, Ben-Gurion wrote that the situation in the Negev desert was “not good.”
He wrote details about the Israeli soldiers’ killing and raping of Arab women, and the Egyptian army’s response.
“They once again arrested our soldiers, who killed and raped two Arab girls. In response, the Egyptians planted a landmine, ambushed and killed five people: three soldiers and two civilians.”
Akevot said parts of the revealed entries were previously redacted and have now been released for public access. The newly unredacted segments were uploaded at its request.
It explained that the former PM wrote a detailed diary until he died, a practice he said he picked up at age 14.
“His diaries have been preserved and are now accessible to the public at the Ben-Gurion Archive. Still, many decades after they were written, numerous segments remain redacted and classified.”
The Institute stressed it will continue to fight for the release of archival materials that have been restricted for public access for no genuine reason, in keeping with the Archive Law and Access Regulations.