21.05.2011 17.Ijar, 5771 Bechukotai; Tag 32 des Omer
In the 1940s, the Haganah collected detailed intelligence information about hundreds of Arab villages and photographed them, in many cases from the ground and also from the air. Only a few dozen of these 'village files' survive in local archives, but their photos constitute a valuable, missing chapter in Palestinian history.
This story begins as a clandestine affair of espionage marked by daring, adventurism, improvisation and imagination as embedded in the official Israeli narrative. In the 1940s, squads of young scouts from the Haganah, the pre-state army and forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, collected information about the Arab towns and villages in Palestine for intelligence purposes: in preparation for a future conflict and as part of a more general project of creating files of target sites.
The information was usually collected under the guise of a nature lesson aimed at getting to know the country, or for hikes that were common in that period. The scouts systematically built up a database of geographical, topographical and planning information about the villages, which included detailed descriptions of roads, neighborhoods, houses, public buildings, objects, wells, caves, wadis and so forth….