Palestine Weekly Article on 1929 Hebron Massacre

The Palestine Weekly published eye-witness accounts of the deadly Hebron riots.

24.8.22, 16:30
The Palestine Weekly
Jerusalem, Friday, September 6th, 1929
The Week of Riot and Horror
Barbaric Massacre at Hebron, Motza and Safed
(Told according to statements of eye-witnesses)
[NOTE: Text taken from original newspaper. Some names and places are spelled differently. The more common spellings are in brackets.]
The massacre of Hebron

Rumour and Apprehensions
The Jews of Hebron feared and foresaw the dangers which were in state for them, but the small community was powerless to take any effective steps for its salvation. The only thing they could do was to appeal to the Governor and the directors of Public Security, who, however, assured them, that everything was alright,.
At about 10 a.m. on Friday, Rabbi [Avraham] Franko and Mr. Shneyerson [Haim Schneerson] met at the offices of the Anglo-Palestine Bank, where they discussed the situation and telephoned to the Jewish City Council in Jerusalem enquiring about the situation in Jerusalem and what they thought of Hebron. The answer of the Jerusalem Council was to the effect that Jerusalem was in a state of panic; but that there seemed little cause for apprehension as to Hebron where the Moslems were known to be opposed to the policies of the Moslem Supreme Council.
The Beginning
“At about 2:30,” reports Mr. Shneyerson, who was saved, “we saw from afar a young Arab on a motorcycle coming from Jerusalem. He came and reported that Moslem blood was being shed in Jerusalem like water and that Moslems must revenge that blood by blood. There was great excitement among the people of Hebron, particularly after several cars arrived from Jerusalem and announced the beginning of the riots there.

Arabs were seated on top of the cars calling to the Hebron Arabs to avenge. Large crowds soon assembled in the garages of these cars and considerable excitement prevailed. All Jews met by the crowds in the street were stoned and wounded.
“The Jews Fault”
“The mob started its procession in a frenzy of excitement. Old Rabbi Slonim [ was at that time on his way to the Superintendent of Police, but was assaulted on his way by an Arab crowd with clubs and knives. A Jewish lady, Mrs. Sokoloff, who saw the event from Rabbi Slonim’s house called to the Superintendent of Police who was immediately behind the crowd to help the rabbi. The latter brutally retorted that it was none of her business that’s he had better hide in her house and that generally, Jews were to blame for the whole business. The answer of the Police Superintendent, although given in English, undoubtedly incited the mob even more, and they continued their course besieging the house of Mr. Grujinsky. The late Eliezer dab Slonim who had at grave risk of his life been gathering the Jewish residents into his house immediately repaired to Grujinsky’s house and with the help of some Arabs succeeded to dispersing the mob thus saving the house and its occupants. On Saturday, however, when the atrocities commenced in all their horror, the Grujinsky family was among the first to suffer, most of its members being slaughtered like sheep.

“After leaving Grujinsky’s house on Friday afternoon, the mob set out for the Slobodka Yeshiba, first attacking Rabbi Slonim in the street who was saved by his son who had always been greatly respected by the Arabs. At the Yeshiba, the Arabs found only one of the students and a servant. The latter had time to escape, but the poor student remained a prey to the mob which subjected him to unspeakable tortures of which he soon succumbed.

“The principal instigator of the crowd was Sheikh Taleb Marka who led the mob. The police, apparently for appearance's sake, had sent some Arab police who however witnessed the events without lifting a finger.
Promise of the Police
“On Saturday morning at 5 a.m. we prepared telegrams to announce to Jerusalem the impending catastrophe in Hebron. But the telegram could not be sent until 8 in the evening. We decided that the only thing we could do then was try and approach the authorities again. But on the way we met Ibrahim Gargur [Ibrahim Gergura], the policeman who was present the previous day when Rabbi Slonim was assaulted, who stated on behalf of the Superintendent of Police that the Jews should remain in doors, and he would assume responsibility for their lives. Later Kafratta [Raymond Cafferata], the British Superintendent of Police passed and repeated the same statement. There was a proposal to send a special courier to Jerusalem, but it was considered impossible to find a dependable Arab to accompany the car to Jerusalem, especially if the object of the message was known to him. We decided to meet at Rabbi Franko’s house and discuss the situation. We intended to go to the Governor or to Kafratta and protest against the order compelling Jews to confine themselves to their houses, an order which would encourage the mischievous ends of the rioters. One the way we met one of the leaders of Arab Hebron, Issa Arafa, and we told him that if he gathered the leaders of Moslems families in Hebron and induced them to assume responsibility for the safety of Hebron Jews, we should continue our friendly relations with them. Otherwise, let them, know that Jewish-Arab relations in Hebron henceforth would be severed,. The Arabs promised to settle the matter satisfactorily."

“Kafratta received the deputation with rude and abusive language. He did not even invite them to come into his room, but dismissed them with liberal cursing, saying “Did I not order you, you wretched Jews, to confine yourselves to your houses,’” Although we had been stoned and the road was dangerous, the police refused to give us an escort. One the way back Issa Arafa said to Eliezer Dan Slonim, “If you surrender us the aliens amongst you, you will save your lives. Slonim ignored these words for a while but when he understood their true purport, he said with fury, “we Jews are not like Moslems! We are one nation and there are no aliens amongst us. Let me tell you that there are scores of those very aliens you refer to under my own shelter.”

“As there was no alternative the Jews were forced to confine themselves to their houses. In the evening the order for the massacre was given.
Preparation for Massacre
“While at home, “ continued Mr. Shneyerson, the son of the hotel proprietor “Sheikh Taleb Marka, the head of the rioters came in and had a good look at the people confined in the house and then left. There were 33 of us in the hotel. The women we gathered into a special room. From the house we could see a large mob of rioters led by Sheikh Taleb Marka who was shouting "You Moslems, here are tens of Americans who have millionaire parents, here is Eliezer Dan Slonim who had blinded Arab eyes with the credits of the Anglo-Palestine Bank! Slaughter all Jews! Today is Islam’s day! This is the day the Prophet commanded to observe! Allah and the Prophet command you to avenge the blood of your Moslem brethren who were killed today in Jerusalem! Allah is great! Massacre the Jews! Come with me! Here are beautiful Jewish girls!" [NOTE: Arabs were not slaughtered by Jews in Jerusalem.]

The Massacre Begins
“Sheikh Taleb continued to incite the mob with similar exclamations. The Arabs drew near and stood between the hotel and Slonim’s house, where 40 Jews were hidden. The rioters were shouting “We have massacre the Aboushdid family, the Guslin family, let us continue!” While part of the mob was trying to break the gate of Slonim’s house a terrible shout was heard from the house of a Jewess, Hanna Burlin, where six Yeshiva boys lodged. A crowd of Arabs carrying plunder came down to the staircase of this house. After a moment deadly silence superseded the shrieks. The axe had done its work, only two wounded (taken for dead) being left of the whole household. Meanwhile the Arab landlord of our house came and said that we had better move to his house, where he would protect us.

I returned to Eliezer Dan Slonim’s house and saw that the mob which was besieging out house had been reinforced by the crowd which left the Burlan house. They were climbing up the balcony of the house and in this way entered.
It is said that the Moslems were given permission to “demonstrate” for two hours, and during this “demonstration” they massacred 59 men, women and children.

We thereupon fled to the cellar of our Arab landlord’s house, and as we ran we heard the first shrieks of the victims. Eighteen were murdered in that house including children and babies at the breast. The remainder were brutally injured and left for dead, some of them, indeed later dying on the way to and in the hospital in Jerusalem.

In this way the mob went from house to house unperturbedly murdering, mutilating, raping looting – within a short distance of the police. For two hours the horror continued.
“Friends of Yesterday”
Atrocious stories are told of the end of the families Abushdid and Guzlan which were completely wiped out. At the head of the murdered were people who had business transactions with them, who were helped by them, and ate of their bread. In the whole of this Sodom there were perhaps ten fair-minded Arabs thanks to whom the remainder of the Jews were saved. The police did nothing to suppress the butchery ; rather, there is evidence to the contrary. Thus the unhappy mother of the victim Palacci states that when her son was murdered an Arab policeman stood by nit only a passive observer of the spectacle but even a sponsor. There was one policeman who even expressed himself thus: never mind, let them kill a few Jews (Ma’alesh, Khalli Yidbahu Shwayet Yahud.)

The Savage Mob

The list of deeds perpetrated at Hebron that 24th day of August may not bear recital. The deliberate acts of torture - tearing out intestines, breaking ribs tearing out brains, cutting off limbs, breasts, fingers – the acts of sodomy and rape (one girl was raped according to medical evidence, by at least thirteen rioters before she was killed): the mutilation and tearing open of bodies after and even before the victims were killed – all these unspeakable and barbaric acts are beyond the descriptive powers of language. For generations they will remain a vile and lurid blot on the memory of Hebron.
The Police Wake Up
After two hours of massacre, some police firing was heard. Only then were the police armed with rifles. This was due it is reported, to the fact that the British Police Superintendent was himself in danger of being attacked by the rioters on remonstrating with them, and therefore he have the order to open fire on the mob. Four Arabs were killed; two others were killed by the police while looting one of the shops. At the beginning a few shots by the police would have been enough to suppress the riots. The Sephardic synagogues, the school, the Creche, the Hadassah hospital and other Jewish buildings were burnt before the police intervened. The only steps taken subsequently by the police were the collection of the wounded and their dispatch to Jerusalem and the burial of the dead (together). The living were collected into the barracks, where they were brutally ill-treated several hundred of them being crowded into two or there rooms.
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