“I will never forget that day, it is still very clear to me,” said a Palestinian who witnessed the massacres and now lives in Germany.
The Nakba anniversary annually carries a long archive of the history of the massacres committed against the Palestinians since 1948, coinciding with the establishment of the State of Israel, according to Western and international studies and research.
According to an investigation by the British research agency Forensic Architecture, the Palestinian village of Al-Tantura witnessed a massacre carried out by the Israeli forces in 1948, as 3 mass graves were found under a beach resort today.
Palestinian survivors and historians have long said that the men living in Tantura, a village of nearly 1,500 people near Haifa, were executed after surrendering to an Israeli general, their bodies dumped in a mass grave believed to lie beneath an area that is now the parking lot of a tourist beach.
The investigation estimated that the number of people buried in these graves ranges between 40 and 200.
In recent years, a growing body of evidence of the Tantura massacre has sparked great controversy in Israel, where the atrocities committed by the then “Zionist gangs” in 1948 are still a very sensitive topic.
An Israeli-made documentary about what happened in the village faced widespread backlash last year.
Mass grave sites
The University of London’s British Research Center analyzed aerial data, maps and photographs from the British Mandate era, with reference to newly collected eyewitness accounts from survivors and perpetrators and Israeli army records.
The data was used to create 3D models that identify potential locations of executions and mass graves as well as the boundaries of pre-existing graves, and whether any graves have been excavated or removed.
The report on the Tantura massacres was commissioned by the Adalah Center, a Palestinian human rights organization focusing on legal issues for Palestinians.
Based on the findings, Adalah on Wednesday filed a legal petition, the first of its kind in Israel, on behalf of several families from the town of Tantura.
In this context, Suhad Bishara, the legal director of the Adalah Center, stressed that “it is difficult to say that there are no mass graves in Tantura,” and added: “It is clear that the rights of families to visit these sites and the right to burial with dignity have been violated under Israeli and international law.”
Returning to the 3 mass graves identified in the center, the first is located under a parking lot, the second is in an orchard near the village square, and the third is also in an open space near the second graveyard.
It is believed that one of the possible execution sites was a courtyard behind the home of Adnan Al-Yahya’s family, due to the fact that human bones were found at the site years later, leading researchers to assess that there may also have been a mass grave there.
Witness the massacres
Adnan al-Yahya, now 92, was 17 years old when the town of Tantura fell to Israeli forces.
He has testified in numerous academic and press publications over the years that he and a friend were forced by soldiers to dig a grave at the site and dump dozens of bodies there.
“I will never forget that day,” he told the researchers, who now lives in Germany. “It is still very clear to me.”
He added, “I lost my faith in God that day. The world should know what happened to us at Tantura.”
The Tantoura Families Committee and the Adalah Center hope that the investigation will lead to further research into the events of the Nakba of 1948, when nearly 700,000 people were expelled and about 500 villages were destroyed.
The British Society Forensic Architecture explained that the Tantura project is the first in a series of visual investigations that the organization is conducting into reported massacres related to the Nakba.