Map of Palestinian Land owned & stolen 1947-67
Landownership in Palestine and the UN Partition Plan 1947
Palestinian Villages depopulated & razed by Israel in 1948-1967
On April 3, 1966, another discussion was held on the same subject, this time at the office of the defense minister, Levi Eshkol
, who was also the serving prime minister; the minutes of this meeting were classified as top secret. Its participants included: Toledano; Isser Harel, in his capacity as special adviser to the prime minister; the military advocate general – Meir Shamgar, who would later become president of the Supreme Court; and representatives of the Shin Bet
security service and Israel Police
The newly publicized record of that meeting shows that the Shin Bet was already prepared at that point to lift the military rule over the Arabs and that the police and army could do so within a short time.Regarding northern Israel, it was agreed that “all the areas declared at the time to be closed [military] zones… other than Sha’ab [east of Acre] would be opened after the usual conditions were fulfilled – razing of the buildings in the abandoned villages, forestation, establishment of nature reserves, fencing and guarding.” The dates of the reopening these areas would be determined by Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Shamir, the minutes said. Regarding Sha’ab, Harel and Toledano were to discuss that subject with Shamir.
© IDF Mapping Unit
Forests were planted on razed Palestinian villages
However, as to Arab locales in central Israel and the Negev, it was agreed that the closed military zones would remain in effect for the time being, with a few exceptions.
© Fritz Cohen / GPO
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Levi Eshkol at the entrance to the Defense Minister in Tel Aviv, 1963.
Even after military rule was lifted, some top IDF officers, including Chief of Staff Tzvi Tzur and Shamgar, opposed the move. In March 1963, Shamgar, then military advocate general, wrote a pamphlet about the legal basis of the military administration; only 30 copies were printed. (He signed it using his previous, un-Hebraized name, Sternberg.) Its purpose was to explain why Israel was imposing its military might over hundreds of thousands of citizens.
Among other things, Shamgar wrote in the pamphlet that Regulation 125, allowing certain areas to be closed off, is intended “to prevent the entry and settlement of minorities in border areas,” and that “border areas populated by minorities serve as a natural, convenient point of departure for hostile elements beyond the border.” The fact that citizens must have permits in order to travel about helps to thwart infiltration into the rest of Israel, he wrote.
Regulation 124, he noted, states that “it is essential to enable nighttime ambushes in populated areas when necessary, against infiltrators.” Blockage of roads to traffic is explained as being crucial for the purposes of “training, tests or maneuvers.” Moreover, censorship is a “crucial means for counter-intelligence.”
Despite Shamgar’s opinion, later that year, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol canceled the requirement for personal travel permits as a general obligation. Two weeks after that decision, in November 1963, Chief of Staff Tzur wrote a top-secret letter about implementation of the new policy to the officers heading the various IDF commands and other top brass, including the head of Military Intelligence. Tzur ordered them to carry it out in nearly all Arab villages, with a few exceptions – among them Barta’a and Muqeible, in northern Israel.
In December 1965, Haim Israeli, an adviser to Defense Minister Eshkol, reported to Eshkol’s other aides, Isser Harel and Aviad Yaffeh, and to the head of the Shin Bet, that then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin opposed legislation that would cancel military rule over the Arab villages. Rabin explained his position in a discussion with Eshkol, at which an effort to “soften” the bill was discussed. Rabin was advised that Harel would be making his own recommendations on this matter.
At a meeting held on February 27, 1966, Harel issued orders to the IDF, the Shin Bet and the police concerning the prime minister’s decision to cancel military rule. The minutes of the discussion were top secret, and began with: “The mechanism of the military regime will be canceled. The IDF will ensure the necessary conditions for establishment of military rule during times of national emergency and war.” However, it was decided that the regulations governing Israel’s defense in general would remain in force, and at the behest of the prime minister and with his input, the justice minister would look into amending the relevant statutes in Israeli law, or replacing them.
All the Arabic speaking localities in the State of Israel (including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights) as of 2015. Striped represent officially mixed cities (by law, at least 2% Arabs in a Jewish majority city). Note: Jerusalem is officially a mixed city but the map shows the boundries of Arab and Jewish neighborhoods.
The historical documents cited here have only made public after a two-year campaign by the Akevot institute against the national archives, which preferred that they remain confidential, Akevot director Lior Yavne told Haaretz. The documents contain no information of a sensitive nature vis-a-vis Israel’s security, Yavne added, and even though they are now in the public domain, the archives has yet to upload them to its website to enable widespread access.
“Hundreds of thousands of files which are crucial to understanding the recent history of the state and society in Israel remain closed in the government archive,” he said. “Akevot continues to fight to expand public access to archival documents – documents that are property of the public.”