Bloodbath, Hevron 1929

Tzvi Fishman,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi Fishman is a recipient of the Israel Ministry of Education Award for Creativity and Jewish Culture. His many novels and books on a variety of Jewish themes are available at Amazon Books. Recently, he has published "Arise and Shine!" and "The Lion's Roar" - 2 sequels to his popular novel, "Tevye in the Promised Land." In Israel, the Tevye trilogy is distributed by Sifriyat Bet-El Publishing. He is also the director and producer of the feature film, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman," starring Israel's popular actor, Yehuda Barkan. ...

To commemorate today’s 90th Year Memorial of the Jews massacred, slaughtered and raped by hordes of rampaging Arabs in Hevron, here is an excerpt from the historical novel “Arise and Shine!” from the "Tevye in the Promised Land" trilogy.

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Chapter 5
The Massacre in Hevron

That morning in Hevron, most of the Arab policemen didn’t report for duty. Some joined in the pogrom. British Police Commander, Cafferata, was alone against some eight-hundred bloodthirsty Arabs, who, as if possessed by the devil, had turned into savages overnight. The reinforcements Cafferata had requested never arrived. A little after eight o’clock, after the Jews had finished their Sabbath morning prayers, hordes of screaming Arabs, armed with staves, axes, knives, and sabers attacked the Jewish Quarter. They smashed down the door of the first home they came to and beat and stabbed the occupants to death. Cafferata arrived at the scene and shot two of the marauders. The others ran off deeper into the Quarter, shouting, “Slaughter the Jews!” The Jewish policeman, Itamar, stood guarding the entrance to the yeshiva when the frenzied mob approached. He managed to shoot three Arabs before they hacked him into pieces. That morning, barely a minyan of students had shown up at the yeshiva to pray. One of the Arabs who first burst into the study hall grabbed Rabbi Slonim, who was still wearing his prayer shawl. He pushed the Jew forcefully toward the back door of the building. “Come with me!” he said, leading the frightened and out-of-breath Rabbi through narrow alleyways to the door of an Arab home outside the Jewish Quarter. “Stay here with my brother,” the Arab told him. “You’ll be safe.”
“G-d bless you,” the Rabbi uttered in relief. “But what about my family?”
“Stay here!” the Arab repeated and ran off, shutting the door behind him. Quickly the brother led the Rabbi down a short flight of stairs to a basement where twenty Jews, men, women, and children were sitting cramped together on the floor, praying for the terror to pass.
The students in the yeshiva weren’t as lucky. The Arabs cut out their tongues, gouged out their eyes, and dismembered them in a merciless massacre. Pages were torn out of holy books, and the Aron HaKodesh overturned. One Torah scroll was stolen and the other was sliced into pieces. Setting the synagogue ablaze, the crazed rabble rushed off in search for more Jewish blood.
Cafferata ran from house to house, shooting in the air and firing at would-be killers. Later, he testified: “Upon hearing screams in a room, I rushed inside and saw an Arab chopping off a child’s head with a sword. He had already slashed him once and was about to strike him again when he saw me and turned to strike at me. I blocked the sword with my rifle, then shot him in the stomach. Behind him, one of my Arab constables on the police force clutched a blood-stained dagger in his hand. He stood over a woman who lay sprawled dead on the floor. ‘I’m a policeman!’ he begged, when I pointed my gun at his face. When he tried to flee, I shot him dead.”
The day before, Rabbi Slonin’s son, Eliezer, had hidden fifty Jews in the Anglo-Palestine Bank, adjacent to his house. The bank, which he managed, was closed for the Sabbath, but the rioters discovered the hideout. Eliezer ran for his revolver, but an axe crashed down on his head, shattering his skull. His wife and her parents met the same bloody fate. Their infant son, Shlomo, wounded badly in the head, was miraculously saved when the bodies of his butchered parents fell over him, hiding him from view. With wide screams, the axe-wielding mob massacred twenty-five Jews, including twenty yeshiva students and the family of one of the yeshiva’s Rabbis. They cut off fingers, hands, and feet, torturing the young Torah scholars, stabbing them again and again until death saved them from Ishmael’s ancient jealousy and hatred. Arabs slaughtered the Rabbi’s children with their axes, and repeatedly raped his wife, forcing him to watch until they pierced him with their swords, cut open his chest and tore out his heart which they paraded triumphantly through the streets, where there was not a policeman to be seen.
Hearing about the massacre from the wounded who reached the infirmary, Hevedke hurried to the Bank, where the rampage had already ended. He stared at the carnage in shock, feeling as if were about to pass out. Hearing a cry, “Allah Akbar!” he turned just as an Arab was raising a saber to strike him. Lunging forward, he managed to shove his attacker off balance. The Arab toppled to the floor. Hevedke grabbed the fallen saber and sank it deep into the assailant’s belly. Filled with rage, he ran outside where a mob of Arabs were attacking Jews in the street with their swords. Screaming and swinging his saber like a wild man, he managed to wound several Arabs until a blunt object crashed down on his head. Sprawling forward to the ground, he felt an excruciating pain in his arm and saw blood squirt in all directions. “Muhammed be praised!” his assailant shouted. Gunshots rang out, and the mob of Arabs scattered. British Police Commander, Cafferata, kept firing his rifle, killing one of the Arabs as the frenzied mob fled. Dazed from the blows, Hedveka managed to stand. Sunlight sparkled in a pool of blood on the ground where his left arm lay dismembered, its fingers still twitching. Spasms seized his shoulder. “Good G-d,” he thought in horror. “They cut off my arm.”
At the infirmary, Hava couldn’t keep up with the wounded. Her hands and white nurse’s uniform were splattered with blood. One of the Arab nurses had arrived to help bandage the cuts and the amputated limbs of the Jews. A man who had been emasculated screamed in agony, clutching a blood-soaked towel to his groin to stop the bleeding.
Rabbi Slonim, clearly in shock, sat on a chair in a corner of the clinic, repeating the same sentences over and over. “They killed my two sons, my wife, and her parents. They killed my two sons, my wife, and her parents. They burned my Torah, my holy Torah. ” Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492 had brought the Torah scroll with them to Hevron, thinking they had found a refuge. Hava bent over Rabbi Slonim and held smelling salt under his nose. Quickly, she moved on to the next patient. There was nothing else she could do.
“They killed my two sons, my wife, and her parents. They burned my Torah, my holy Torah,” the vacant-eyed Rabbi repeated, staring blankly at a wall.
Upstairs in the infirmary building, a mob burst into the homes of the pharmacist, Ben Zion Gershon, and Rabbis Hason and Kastel. The wild human beings massacred them all, except for a few children who managed to flee. Worse than animals, they raped Gershon’s daughter. Cutting off his wife’s hands, they raped her as well. Hearing their terrifying cries for help, Hava instinctively ran into the courtyard of the clinic. Immediately, an Arab grabbed her and threw her to the ground.
“It’s the nurse,” someone said.
“All is fair in love and war,” another responded, quoting an Arab expression.
Hava stared at her attackers in terror as they ripped off her uniform. She recognized the faces of people she had treated and whose children she had vaccinated in the past. Hands pinned her arms and her legs to the floor as she was raped again and again to the laughter and curses of one Arab after another. She fainted, just as she heard gunshots from the street. At the sound of the shots, her attackers fled.
As if in a nightmare, Hava opened her eyes as an Arab raised a long dagger and plunged it into her chest.
Outside, stripped to his waist, with his fringed garment tied around the stump of his upper arm like a tourniquet, Hevedke staggered through the war-torn street to the ransacked infirmary. Jews were frantically pouring basins and buckets of water on the flames which were engulfing the clinic and the synagogue on the second floor. Others carried the ill and wounded to safety. Hevedke searched through the infirmary, but Hava was nowhere to be seen. Clutching his makeshift bandage to his still bleeding shoulder, he mounted the stairs to the second floor where the fire was blazing. A blanket covered a corpse in the corridor. Bending down on a knee, he pulled the shroud from its face. It was Hava. Stripped naked, she stared up at him with the eyes he loved – now so cold and lifeless. His whole body shivered.
“Abba, Abba,” Akiva cried.
Hevedke reached out his right hand and gently closed his wife’s eyes with the tip of his finger. Then he stretched the blanket back over her face. His ten-year old son ran to embrace him.
“Abba, Abba,” the frightened youth sobbed. “Where is Ema? Where is Ema?”
With the only arm that he had, Isaac, the son of Abraham, hugged the boy to his bosom. “Come,” he said, holding his son’s hand. “Let’s go outside and look for her.”
On the street, Jews were staggering around in a daze.
“All Jews to the police station!” Cafferata yelled. “All Jews to the police station!”
Hevedke had been a Jew for ten years, but this, he felt, was his first real test.
“The L-rd gave, and the L-rd has taken away,” he said. “Blessed be the Name of the L-rd.”