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Ben Gurion Blames Qibya Provocation on Arab States’ War Policy

October 21, 1953
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion of Israel, in an unscheduled broadcast last night, unequivocally denied that units of the Israel Army had carried out a reprisal raid on the Arab village of Qibya in Jordan territory and placed blame for the situation in which settlers in the frontier areas had been provoked to action squarely upon the governments of the Arab States.

“It is over four years that the armed forces of Jordan and other Arab countries have been breaking into Jewish settlements in the border areas and in the vicinity of Jerusalem to murder and pillage,” the Premier declared “Hundreds of Israel citizens, men, women, the aged and children, have been murdered and wounded. All our appeals to the Mixed Armistice Commissions, all our attempts to bring the Arab Governments to honor the armistice agreements, have been in vain. Jordan, as well as other Arab Governments, has encouraged the bands, directly and indirectly, with a clear political aim – to undermine Israel and make the life of its citizens unbearable.

“To this end,” he said, “they have exploited the Arab refugees and compelled them to subsist on the charity of the United Nations and kept them deliberately in the vicinity of Israel’s frontiers for these pernicious purposes, and now what had always been feared has come about.”


The patience of Jewish settlers along the frontier, strained by years of murderous attacks, was exhausted when a woman and two children were killed in their sleep in an Arab raid on Yahud, Mr. Ben Gurion recounted. “They last week attacked Qibya across the border which was one of the centers of the murderous gangs. Every one of us is grieved by the shedding of blood wherever it may occur and no one deplores it more than the Israeli Government if in the reprisal raid on Qibya, innocent blood was spilled. But all responsibility rests on the Jordan Government which, for years, has tolerated and therefore encouraged acts of murder and pillage against the inhabitants of Israel.

“The Israel Government rejects, with all vigor, the absurd and fantastic allegation that 600 men of the Israel defense forces took part in the action against Qibya. We carried out a searching investigation and it is clear beyond a doubt that not a single Army unit was absent from its base on the night of the Qibya attack.

The Premier said it was not Israel policy that “neighborly relations should be based on acts of reprisal” and added that it could not agree “that such relations should be characterized by a continued state of one-sided war. The rulers of the Arab States publicly justify this kind of war and they keep uttering threats of a second round.”


The Israeli Prime Minister stressed that “we do not wish, under any circumstances, to base our relations with our neighbors on force and the use of arms. Like all past Jewish generations, we have faith in the vision of peace of Israel’s prophets, in the supremacy of justice and equality among men and among peoples.

“The State of Israel was established to right a historic wrong – the ill treatment of the Jews of the world as individuals and as a people,” he declared. He warned, however, that this state would not agree that the lives of its citizens should go unprotected and that armed Arab marauders should invade it “day by day, week by week, to carry out murder, sabotage and robbery without any hindrance or penalty from their governments, without any impediment from the United Nations and without any intervention from the allies of some of the Arab States.”

He accused the Arab States of trying to wreck Israel’s existence “by an economic blockade in violation of the United Nations Charter and by guerilla warfare in violation of the armistice agreements,” and added that “we cannot reconcile ourselves to this one-sided warfare and we cannot conceive that the United Nations or any other power that believes sincerely in the United Nations Charter would seek, consciously, to apply different standards in their judgment of the acts of violence which have been going on for the last five years along Israel’s borders.”

“The Israel Government is placing before the Security Council its representations concerning violation of the armistice agreements and the United Nations Charter by the Arab States,” Mr. Ben Gurion concluded. “We place our trust in international peace and justice. We will insist with firmness and resolution that the same laws and principles shall apply to the people of Israel and to other peoples, to the State of Israel and to other states.”

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