History

IDF General Rehavam Zeevi Pens Book About Hebron Massacre

The full introduction to the book TARPAT - Hebron Massacre by the decorated war veteran.

4.5.17, 12:38
Rehavam Zeevi was a respected general of the Israel Defense Forces as a veteran of multiple wars and of the pre-state Haganah self-defense unit. He was among the first to return to Hebron in the Six Day War of 1967, arriving with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and General Uzi Narkis. Since then, he was a proponent of the repatriation of the Jewish community.  Zeevi went on to a career in politics, serving as Minister of Tourism. He was assassinated by terrorists in 2001.
 
It was Zeevi who is credited with removing the infamous "Seventh Step" from the Tomb of Machpela complex. The staircase that once led to the eastern entrance was restricted to Jews who were barred from walking past the seventh step for hundreds of year.
 
The staircase and adjacent structures were used to attack Jewish worshipers on Sukkut of 1968 when a grenade was thrown by terrorists. The steps and other structures were removed for security purposes. 
 
The book Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 states, "The order seems to have been given by the general in charge of the IDF's Central Region Command, Rehavam Ze'evi, and officer for whom the 1929 riots had been a seminal experience. "
 
The book goes on to detail Ze'evi's harrowing childhood experiences in the riots that also hit Jerusalem and other cities in the long, hot summer of 1929.
 
Ze'evi edited 65 books published by the Defense Ministry and the Eretz-Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.  One of those was Tevach Hevron - TARPAT (Hebron Massacre 1929), a collection of articles and photos about the event. The following is a translation of his introduction.
 
*****
                             
On Saturday, the 18th of the Month of Av - August 24, 1929, Hebron Arabs massacred the Jewish community of Hebron. They beat, stabbed, sliced limbs, crushed stomachs, raped women, murdered and slaughtered every Jew they could discover -- children, women, men, the elderly. The Arabs burned the ancient synagogues, destroyed the Hadassah clinic and looted the Jewish homes.
                               
This mass pogrom was carried out by the masses of Hebron's Arabs, headed by sheikhs and qadis, when the Mandatory police stood idly by and indifferent to what was happening. ...a few of the Arabs gave shelter to their Jewish neighbors. Pogroms and massacres have accompanied the chronicles of our people in the diaspora, and here we see the spectacle of horror in the Land of Israel.
                               
The five hundred refugees of the sword, who remained from this pogrom, were gathered at the police station where they sat grieving and bleeding until they were evacuated the next day to Jerusalem together with the wounded. Fifty-nine dead were gathered and buried in five mass graves in the ancient cemetery of Hebron.
The British police prevented the photography of those murdered before burial and allowed only five Jews to attend the funeral. In the Jerusalem hospitals, seven of the wounded died.
                               
The wounded in three hospitals as well as those who died in Jerusalem were photographed by several photographers, and these pictures came to our attention. On the 30th of Sivan 1929, more than ten months after the massacre, a Jerusalem photographer traveled to Hebron on behalf of the Yishuv institutions, and photographed the synagogues and houses of the Jews who were robbed, and these pictures also reached us.
                               
About a year ago, Gabi Kadmon of Kfar Saba, a member of a joint service in Company D of the Palmach, brought two photo albums that he received from his father, Yitzhak Kaufman-Kadmon, including pictures of the 1929 riots in Jerusalem, Motza, Kfar Uriya, Tel Aviv, Safed and Hebron.
 
Although I participated in Israel's wars and had been used to difficult and shocking experiences, I was horrified by the pictures in the albums, and I thought it appropriate to bring them to the public domain.
 
In this book, I published pictures from the first album about the massacre in Hebron, and added pictures from the Central Zionist Archives, as well as other documents on the subject. In addition, articles and reports from newspapers of the period were presented, including the comprehensive article by Oded Avisar editor of Sefer Hebron (Jerusalem, 1970) courtesy of his wife Esther,  and the Yitzkor book from 1930.
 
My thanks go to all those who helped me: the employees of the Central Zionist Archives; Hannah Freidin, who helped compile the newspaper clippings; Noam Arnon, Hebron spokesperson who encouraged me to publish the book; Yoram Sarig and the Havatzelet printing press and all who helped.
 
In the massacre in Hebron in 1929, sixty-six Jews were murdered in the city of the Patriarchs, and the continuity of the Jewish community was halted until it was renewed after the Six-Day War. This book is a memorial to the massacre and a reminder of life. The British High Commissioner saw the 1929 riots as a "state of confusion and acts of illegal violence"  -- that the Arabs would take every opportunity to destroy us, remove us from our homeland and the land of life, and even claim it was all just "Jewish propaganda" and deny the events.
 
We will remember the horrific events of the Hebron massacre, learn its lessons and strengthen the Jewish community in Hebron.
 
Rechavam Ze'evi
1994
 
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