Haaretz: "Israel" concealing archives of Nakba civilian killings
Israeli media reveals that squads from the Israeli Ministry of Security hid historical documents related to the Israeli nuclear project and evidence of mass killings and destroying villages during the Nakba.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed Monday that members from the Security Ministry ordered the sealing of historical documents containing proof of “Israel’s” nuclear project and the mass killings of Palestinians as well as the destruction of their homes, during the Nakba.
The newspaper said that the Ministry’s security department "ordered documents moved into vaults that dealt with Israel’s nuclear project and foreign relations. But they also sealed hundreds of documents containing testimony from army generals about the killing of civilians, the destruction of villages, and the expulsion of Bedouin.”
Additionally, the report outlined that “The sealed materials in the Yad Ya’ari archive deal mainly with 1948 and involve the Arab villages of Tantura, Al-Dawayima and Deir Yassin, and elected officials. These include documents in Polish from the late 1940s and early ‘50s that were not authorized for publication and belong to Israel Barzilai, who was health minister and leader of the Mapam party.”
Adding that, "Those who stood behind the operation [concealing archives] are members of the MALMAB (responsible for security within the security establishment), a secret agency whose work and budget are secret."
The investigation revealed, according to the newspaper, that the members of the apparatus “worked without any legal authority, even in some cases they hid documents that the military censorship authority had previously allowed to be published, and sometimes even transferred them to document vaults whose contents were made public.”
After the revelations, Haaretz wrote that the chair of the subcommittee, which deals with issues pertaining to the Security Ministry and its units, MK Michal Rozen, “convened meetings to discuss the matter over the past year.” The media outlet added that during these meetings "it came to light that government representatives did indeed go to archives and lock away documents that were not classified, documents that the ministry’s security department has no authority to conceal."
According to information made public by Haaretz, Rozen and the chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Ram Ben-Barak did request that the archives be made public. In a statement to the Israeli media outlet, they said that “The ministry never had the legal authority to lock away the documents. [...] Portions of our history cannot be concealed just because it’s unpleasant to reveal them. The public has a right to know our past with full transparency.”
Furthermore, the Israeli report showed that the request of the officials was, in fact, denied by those in charge. The report read:
“[Security] Ministry officials were vehemently opposed to the demand of Rozin and the chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Ram Ben-Barak, to disclose the documents. A compromise was finally reached, proposed by MK Eitan Ginzburg, that the [government] archivist would send a letter to archives asking them to check whether the concealed documents could be published, in coordination with the [government] archive.”
Israeli government archivist Ruti Abromovich, according to Haaretz, sent a letter to a reduced chain of public archives asking them to submit records from the period of the regime's establishment that were kept locked away in vaults per MALMAB's orders for review by the Government Archives.
According to the report, Yaacov Lozowick, the government archivist from 2011-18, argued that “the authority to classify documents, including in the army archive, lies solely with the State Archives and not other archives, whether public or private,” adding that “the fact that the letter was only sent to a few archives raises questions because he believes the Defense Ministry examined hundreds of archives.”
The Haaretz report concluded that if "Israel" admitted in the sessions "that the documents were hidden without authority, why did it not insist on their immediate disclosure? With what authority does the [government] now say to the archives that they should bring the materials for inspection, while the [government] did not have the authority to hide them in the first place?"