The Jews of ancient Hebron will hold a commemorative ceremony for the most gruesome Islamic terror attack against Jews in Israel – the 1929 Hebron Massacre. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be in attendance and president Ruby Rivlin will deliver the keynote address.
In case you are not familiar with the event, on August 24, 1929, 67 Jewish people were tortured and killed by their Arab neighbors in the ancient city of Hebron. Those who managed to survive the onslaught were evicted from the city by the British occupiers. The riots were initially instigated by Haj Amin Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem in an effort to consolidate his power over rival Arab leaders.
Following the expulsion, the city fell into economic despair. But only two years later, survivors of the event returned to rebuild the Jewish community. This lasted for five years until the Arab revolt of 1936. When that happened, the British again deported the entire Jewish community of the city.
Every year, aside from guided tours of Hebron, the city’s renewed Jewish community of Hebron holds a memorial service at the cemetery where many of the victims are buried. But never one as high profile as the 90th anniversary on Wednesday.
That’s because aside from Israel’s prime minister and president, the event includes other dignitaries who will be addressing the gathering including MKs like Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, professors, journalists and even survivors of the massacre as well as their descendants.
One survivor that is scheduled to speak is Avraham Kiryati. Kiryati was born in Hebron in 1921. A descendant of Spanish Jews, Kiryati was 7-years old when the riots broke out. He is one of the last remaining survivors who can still speak about Hebron before and after the horrific event. As Kiryati’s memory fades, he prefers not to mince words in his upcoming speech.
Another speaker, Yossi Sa-Nes, is Kiryati’s nephew. Sa-Nes led a decorated military career and eventually became the mayor of the southern city of Netivot, a city that suffers their fair share of rocket fire from Gaza. One of his main hobbies is genealogy. “My great-grandfather, Eliyahu Kapiloto, built a house from wood just outside the Hebron ghetto,” he told Arutz Sheva. Today, that house is in Area A which means that the Palestinian Authority will not allow him to access it.
“My grandfather was the first electrician of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. He installed lanterns above the tombs of our forefathers and matriarchs” he added.
Recalling the events of that fateful day, Sa-Nes said: “The Arabs were going from house to house and eventually made their way to the distant home of Rabbi Slonim and Kapiloto. My great grandfather stood on the steps to protect the home but suffered a deep stab wound. His wife, Rivka yelled to them ‘I have gold under my bed. Take it and leave us!’. When their son, Musa Kapiloto saw them stabbing his father, he fled to a chicken coup and hid there until the violence subsided. My great grandfather helped bury the victims of the massacre but then died shortly after from an infection.”
Yishai Fleisher, the spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron believes that the monumental event will connect past and present saying: “This event comes, on the one hand, to memorialize the dead and commemorate the massacre but it also ensures that the Jewish people’s ancient connection to Hebron isn’t erased by propaganda and so-called ‘legitimate international organizations’ like UNESCO who deny Jewish history in Hebron and hope that the prime minister will issue statements calling for the Jewish community to continue to build and thrive in Hebron.”
On Wednesday, those stories, speeches from Israel’s most well-respected dignitaries and thought leaders will gather at the event where a group prayer will commence. It will be held across from the tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron. To learn more about the ancient city of Hebron, click here.