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Hebron Massacre Takes Place, 1929

On This Day in Jewish History: August 23, 1929

On this day, the evening of 23rd August 1929, the ‘Hebron Massacre’ commenced.

Ending on the 24th, the Hebron Massacre resulted in the murder of 67 Jews, though some records argue that the death toll was 69. On the evening of the 23rd, Arab extremists resorted to violence following rumours that Jews were planning to seize control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Hebron Massacre constituted part of the Arab Riots of 1929, in which a total of 133 Jews and 110 Arabs were killed, the latter mostly by British forces. It was also the pogrom which brought the centuries long Jewish presence in Hebron to an end.

BEFORE MASSACRE

Prior to the Hebron Massacre around 800 Jews lived in the city of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi backgrounds.

DURING THE MASSACRE

At around 4:00pm Friday, stones were hurled through the windows of Jewish homes, as well as the Hebron Yeshiva (a prominent Orthodox Jewish college), and when a student tried to flee the seminary, he was set upon by the mob and stabbed to death.

At around 8.30am on Saturday 24th August, violent attacks ensued. The first attacks were launched against the homes of Jews, “after a crowd of Arabs armed with staves, axes and knives appeared in the streets.” “The first location to be attacked was a large Jewish house on the main road. Two young boys were immediately killed, and the mob entered the house and beat or stabbed the other occupants to death.” Critically, there was only one police officer present in the entire city of Hebron. Consequently, Arab extremists were able to easily enter Jewish courtyards unopposed. A few Arabs did try to help the Jews. 19 Arab families saved dozens, if not hundreds, of Hebron’s Jews. According to a survivor, Aharon Reuven Bernzweig, "right after eight o'clock in the morning we heard screams. Arabs had begun breaking into Jewish homes. The screams pierced the heart of the heavens. We didn't know what to do…. They were going from door to door, slaughtering everyone who was inside. The screams and the moans were terrible. People were crying Help! Help! But what could we do?”

The Massacre was also characterized by destruction and looting:

“A Jewish hospital, which had provided treatment for Arabs, was attacked and ransacked. Numerous Jewish synagogues were vandalised and desecrated.” “According to one account, Torah scrolls in casings of silver and gold were looted from the synagogues and manuscripts of great antiquity were pilfered from the library of Rabbi Judah Bibas.” “The library, founded in 1852, was partly burned and destroyed.” “In one instance, a rabbi who had saved a Torah scroll from a blazing synagogue later died from his burns.”

 

[1] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-hebron-massacre-of-1929

[2] https://www.history.com/topics/russia/pogroms

[3] Segev, Tom (2000). One Palestine, Complete. Metropolitan Books. pp. 314–327

[4] Laurens, Henry (2002). La Question de Palestine: Une mission sacrée de civilisation

[5] Laurens, Henry (2002). La Question de Palestine: Une mission sacrée de civilisation

[6] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-hebron-massacre-of-1929

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre

[8] Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August 1929 (The Shaw Commission). March 1930. p. 64.

[9] Commission on the Palestine Disturbances of August 1929 (The Shaw Commission). March 1930. p. 64.

[10] Adler, Cyrus; Schechter, Solomon; Neuman, Abraham Aaron; Zeitlin, Solomon (1952). "The Jewish Quarterly Review".

[11] Rubinstein, Amnon (2000). From Herzl to Rabin: the changing image of Zionism. Holmes & Meier


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