Above: Part of the old village, which is now the Kfar Shaul mental health hospital. It was established just three years after the Deir Yassin massacre

Deir Yassin today

Although virtually all six million Palestinians in the world know of Deir Yassin, few have ever been there. The site is not identified on post-1948 maps of Israel. But it is not difficult to find.

The central part of Deir Yassin is a cluster of buildings now used as a mental hospital. To the east lies the industrial area of Givat Shaul; to the north lies Har Hamenuchot (the Jewish cemetery), to the west, built on the side of the mountain on which Deir Yassin is located, is Har Nof, a new settlement of orthodox Jews.

To the south is a steep terraced valley containing part of the Jerusalem Forest. On the other side of that valley, roughly a mile and a half from Deir Yassin and in clear view of it, are Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Hostility remains

While not difficult to find, Deir Yassin today is not easy to visit. There are few places to park. Admittance to the mental hospital grounds is understandably restricted. There are no signs, no plaques and no memorials of any kind.

The cemetery is largely gone; the ruins of the deir (monastery) are unmarked; and the quarry – from which the residents made a living and in which the bodies of those who were massacred were piled up and burned – is likely buried under a fuel storage depot on the south side of the mountain.

Orthodox Jews living in the area aren't friendly to outsiders and either don't know or refuse to acknowledge Deir Yassin's history. Not surprisingly, picture taking invites suspicion and criticism.

Below: “In clear sight of Yad Vashem…” The view of Deir Yassin from Yad Vashem, the Jewish holocaust memorial. You can see the forest area on the horizon where the village was located. To the left is the water tower, underneath which some of the victims are thought to be buried


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