The first-ever “truth commission” staged in Israel has featured confessions from veteran Israeli fighters of the 1948 war, admitting they perpetrated war crimes as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes.
The commission, held in December 2014, is the culmination of more than a decade of clashes between a group of activists called Zochrot, the Hebrew word for Remembering, and the Israeli authorities.
Founded in 2002, Zochrot seeks to educate Israeli Jews about what Palestinians call the Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe”, referring to Israel’s creation on the ruins of their homeland more than six decades ago. The group also campaigns for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel.
The commission, which had no official standing, is intended as the first of several events to investigate atrocities and war crimes committed in different localities, according to Zochrot.
Liat Rosenberg, the group’s director, said they had looked to other commissions, such as South Africa’s, as models, but had excluded the goal of reconciliation because the conflict was still unresolved.