In memory of Elyakim Haetzni

Hebron community mourns the loss of pioneering lawyer and advocate.

19.9.22, 09:54
(PHOTO: Above: Elyakim Haetzni and his wife Tzippora light Chanukah candles at the Tomb of Machpela, 2016.
Below: MK Elyakim Haetzni addresses the Knesset Feb. 13, 1990. Credit: Yaacov Saar, Government Press Office.)
The Jewish community of Hebron mourns the loss of Elyakim Haetzni, a pioneer of the modern community, who passed away at the age of 96.

“He was among the rare individuals who acted with absolute loyalty to the Land of Israel despite not being defined as ‘religious,’ and came to settle with his family in Hebron under difficult and challenging conditions,” stated Hebron community spokesman Noam Arnon.

“He and his late wife Tzip hosted tens of thousands of visitors in their home who were amazed by their pioneering Zionist spirit,” he added.

He was born in Germany in 1926, and lived under the Nazi regime until Kristallnacht in 1938. At the age of 12, his family escaped to the Land of Israel and lived in Jerusalem.

As a law student at Hebrew University, Haetzni helped found Shurat Ha’mitnadvim, a group dedicated to helping new immigrants, especially those living in government-run transit camps.

He was active in the Mapai youth group and served in the Haganah. During the War of Independence he took part in escorting convoys and was seriously injured by the Jordanian shelling of Jerusalem.

After the Six Day War in 1967, he joined The Movement for a Complete Land of Israel, a group of right-wing and left-wing intellectuals who advocated repopulating Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights. Haetzni’s Tel Aviv law office became a center for such advocacy.

In 1968, the Haetznis participated in the Passover seder in Hebron organized by Rabbi Moshe and Miriam Levinger. The large event marked the beginning of the return to Judea and Samaria. He and his family left Ramat Gan in 1972 to join the newly established community of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron. He spent the next five decades advocating for Hebron’s Jewish community and championing the rights of Israelis living in the liberated territories. His law office took on both Jewish and Arab clients and he advocated for coexistence.

Haetzni was a member of the Yesha Council, the governing body for residents of Judea and Samaria. He served as a Member of Knesset for two years with the Tehiya party. He received the Jerusalem Prize in 2022 for his work.

Haetzni is survived by four children: Boaz Haetzni, Nadav Haetzni, Yishai Haetzni and Sarah Haetzni-Cohen. He is also survived by his sister, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz called him “a man led and guided by his values. He passionately acted in accordance with his beliefs, and alongside that, he never forgot to be humane toward every human.”

Former prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu stated he was “one of the outstanding figures in the settlement of Judea and Samaria. The love of the Land of Israel that ran through his veins will always serve as a light to his memory.”

The Kiryat Arba-Hebron local council stated, “he was a founding father of the settlement movement, a man of leadership and kindness. A humble and modest man who always put public matters first. Elyakim was loved by the public, he would spread peace and would unite communities. He stayed dedicated to the people of Israel and the state of Israel until his last days.”
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