web analytics
December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘patriarchs’

When the Arabs Surrendered Hebron: Rabbi Goren Recalls How He Reclaimed the Cave of the Patriarchs

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

The Torah reading this Shabbat, Parashat Hayyei Sarah, details Abraham’s purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron. In light of the political climate regarding jurisdiction over Hebron, it is worthwhile to read Rabbi Shlomo Goren’s firsthand account of the battle to reclaim Hebron and the Arabs’ surrender to the Israel Defense Forces. At the time, Rabbi Goren served as a general and the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli army. In his autobiography, With Might and Strength, Rav Goren recalls the excitement of and hurdles to being the first Jew to open the gates of the Maarah in more than a thousand years.
***

I decided to be there when the IDF liberated Hebron. I thought there would be a big battle, like there had been everywhere else, because if the legion had fought for Bethlehem, they would fight even harder for

Hebron, which was a large city. I reached Gush Etzion at 1:30 a.m. There were armored corps units, a company of jeeps, infantry, and all the otherforces that we would need, except for the air force.

 

Lt. Col. Tzvika Ofer and the forces with him were planning to set out toward Hebron at six o’clock in the morning.

As part of the preparations for going into battle, I asked the commander if I could speak with the soldiers. He answered in the affirmative and said he would assemble his entire brigade at three o’clock in the morning. At the appointed hour, the soldiers assembled on a small hill near the vehicles and the commander handed me a megaphone. This is what I said to the soldiers:

 

Dear soldiers, today we liberated our nation’s Holy of Holies   in Jerusalem – the Temple Mount and the Kotel.  Tomorrow, we are going to liberate the second-holiest city in Eretz Yisrael. You are going to liberate the Jewish people’s city of the patriarchs, which is the foundation of the Kingdom of David. King David ruled for seven years in Hebron before he ruled in Jerusalem. You are going to fight against the worst and wildest murderers. They carried out the pogroms all over the country and killed 164 fighters right here, where we are now, after they surrendered and laid down their arms. There is no absolution for that! Know how to behave with them and in the name of the Lord, take action and succeed, and go from victory to victory! From the victory in Jerusalem and Judea to the victory in Hebron!

 

As dawn approached, the soldiers started organizing for their departure. At 6:00 a.m. I went out onto the road to look for Tzvika Ofer’s battalion, but I didn’t see anyone there. I thought they might already have left, but the line of tanks was still there. I thought that perhaps he had taken the first tank and gone toward Hebron to get there first. I told my driver that we should advance toward Hebron, regardless of what the battalion was doing. There was my vehicle and the Military Rabbinate jeep that escorted us. On the way we met the battalion’s reconnaissance company and passed it. We turned on our vehicle’s siren and everyone let me pass.

Suddenly my driver said, “Rabbi, we’re the first ones here. There are no soldiers ahead of us. The entire brigade is behind us. We could get stuck in Hebron alone, and who knows what they’ll do to us.”

“Drive on,” I told him.

When we drew closer to Hebron, I saw white flags waving over all the houses along the way. I realized that there was no war here. There wasn’t a single Jordanian flag, so there was nothing to fear and no reason to be afraid – we were entering Hebron as victors, without a war and without having fired a single shot.

“There’s a Jordanian flag flying from the third floor of one of the houses,” my driver said as we drove past Ĥalĥul. “They might fire on us.” “Take the Uzi and cover me,” I said. “I’m going up there to take down the flag.”

My driver said they might kill me, so he would go.

“You’re still young,” I told him. “You still have to build a home and a family. I’ve already lived my life. I’ll go up, and whatever happens, happens.”

One of the drivers accompanied me to the second floor, and from there I went up to the third floor. I reached the flag and took it down.

Salaam Alaikum,” I said to the tenants. I took the flag and they didn’t say a word.

We advanced toward Hebron, and when we entered the city we saw that all the houses along the main road were festooned with white sheets, hung from all the balconies. The Hebron municipality and the military forces in Hebron had decided on a self-imposed curfew and ordered that no one leave their homes. I wanted to inform them that the IDF had already conquered Hebron, even though at this stage the IDF force was only me and the jeep.

There was a podium in the middle of the city, where a policeman usually stood, directing the traffic. I mounted the podium, took the Uzi and fired a whole magazine of bullets into the air, to notify the residents of the city that the Israel Defense Forces was inside the city and that we had captured Hebron.

My declared goal had been to be the first to reach the Cave of the Patriarchs. In my mind’s eye I still saw the incident that I told you about – regarding my visit to Hebron back when I was engaged to Tzfia, how we reached this place and the Arabs’ reactions to our arrival, and about the British policeman who suddenly appeared, like the prophet Elijah, and saved our lives.

I saw an Arab boy of about sixteen or seventeen, standing at one of the windows. I called out to him to come down to me.

“Where is the grave of our Avraham Avinu (that’s what the Arabs called the Cave of the Patriarchs)?” I shouted up to him, but he replied that he was afraid to come down because of the curfew; he wouldn’t be able to get back home. I promised him that my driver would bring him back, and the boy agreed to show us.

We reached the site and began to climb the stairs toward the gates on both sides of the building, at the top of the two staircases. I climbed to the top of the staircase on the north side, where everyone prayed, and saw that the gate was locked.

Ifta el-bab!” I shouted in Arabic. “Open the gates!” I heard voices inside.

Mefish maftuah,” they said. “We don’t have a key.”

If they don’t have a key, I thought to myself, how did they get inside? I knew there were people in there, and that the gates were closed from the inside with bolts. They had thirty-six keys, and they were holding onto them. I began firing hundreds of bullets at the gates, but they didn’t budge. To this day you can see the holes I made in the gates, which the Arabs call “Rabbi Goren’s holes.” (Years later, the Arabs tried to fill in the holes so that there would be no trace of our liberation of the Cave of the Patriarchs. I phoned the governor of Hebron and he sent an officer to stop the holes from being filled in.)

For three hours, we tried to break down and open the gates, but without success, until I heard the sound of a tank approaching the site. That was the first tank that entered Hebron, and it was adorned with an improvised flag – a sheet on which the soldiers had drawn a blue Star of David. The soldiers had taken the flag from David’s Citadel. Here’s what had happened:

During the liberation of Jerusalem there was no flag to hang   on David’s Citadel. A Jewish family from England lived nearby, and the wife gave a white sheet to the soldiers and told them they could draw a Star of David on it. At first, this improvised flag was hung on David’s Citadel, and after several hours it was taken down and hung on the tank that would be the first to enter Hebron and reach the Cave of the Patriarchs.

There was a small flagpole on the main gate in front of the Cave of the Patriarchs. We drove the tank up against the wall beside the gate, and from there I climbed up onto the tank’s turret and hung the flag at the entrance to the compound. Many pictures of me hanging that flag were later published in Israel and around the world.

We wanted to break through the gate to the Cave of the Patriarchs. Despite the hundreds of bullets I had fired, we had not managed to dislodge the gate. When the tank arrived, I saw the soldiers had a crow bar. My driver and I put the bar into the gate and worked it off its hinges until the gate fell to the ground and we could enter the Cave of the Patriarchs. We saw two Arabs inside, so scared they were trembling like a lulav, and one of them was holding the dozens of keys to the gate – even though they had shouted to me from inside that they didn’t have any keys. My driver went over to him, took the keys, and we went into the Cave of the Patriarchs, where I blew the shofar.

I took the sefer Torah that I had brought with me and read the weekly portion of Ĥayei Sara, which relates how Abraham bought the Cave of the Patriarchs from the sons of Ĥet. It was still early in the morning and we were able to daven Shaĥarit there. That was the first time, after more than a thousand years, that Jews were inside the Cave of the Patriarchs.

 

We tried to figure out a way of closing the Cave of the Patriarchs so that soldiers would not come and plunder everything that was there – expensive carpets and other valuable items. It was impossible to reinstall the gates after we had forced them off their hinges, because the gates were very heavy. In order to safeguard the site, even temporarily, I called over one of the two Arabs who had been inside and had not allowed us to enter, and gave him a piece of paper on which I had written the following order:“I hereby order any soldier visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs that he not enter without instructions from an officer.”

 

Furthermore, the officer had to sign that if he entered with a group of soldiers, he was responsible for the property in the Cave of the Patriarchs; nothing could be removed and the soldiers must not damage

the carpets or any of the valuables.

 

While we were inside the Cave of the Patriarchs, a messenger arrived from the mayor’s secretary and told us that the mayor wanted to come to the compound to surrender and hand Hebron over to me. I told him that I could not accept his surrender inside such a holy place; he should wait at City Hall and I would come to him. I told him that it was sufficient for a lieutenant colonel to accept the surrender, and that a brigadier general such as myself was not necessary.

By the time we had davened and I had blown the shofar, it was about eleven o’clock in the morning. I decided to go to City Hall to see Mayor Ali Jabari. When we arrived there, the mayor and the qadi of the Cave of the Patriarchs were already there – as were the municipal secretaries and our interpreters and the IDF interpreter who accompanied battalion commander Tzvika Ofer – and they had prepared a statement of surrender in Arabic. I said that until I understood what was written there, we would not sign.

The municipal secretary translated the statement of surrender into English for me, and it did not include anything about unconditional surrender. I tore up the statement and told the secretary, “You write what I tell you, word for word.”

This is what I dictated:

I, Mayor Ali Jabari, on my own behalf and on behalf of the members of the municipality and on behalf of all the residents of Hebron, surrender unconditionally to the commander of the Israel Defense Forces who is in charge of the city, and commit to accepting all the directives I receive from authorized IDF personnel, without objection and without hesitation, and to fulfill them.

 

After he read this in Arabic, I asked the mayor and the qadi to sign the draft and to make a copy of it. I took the first one and signed it. Ali Jabari asked me for a gift, as a memento, and I gave him a copy of the Prayer Before Going into Battle, which I had had printed up in thousands of copies. I signed the back and wrote, “So let all Your enemies perish, O Lord” (Judges 5:31).

 

***

After we completed the surrender ceremony, we discovered that our car had been left unlocked and someone had stolen all the rolls of film of all the photographs we had taken throughout the war.

 

We decided to return to Jerusalem. By then, it was Thursday afternoon. On the way out of Hebron we returned to the Cave of the Patriarchs and I reminded the Arab in charge of the site that until he received different orders from the IDF, any Jew who wanted to enter the Cave of the Patriarchs should be allowed in, but on the condition that an officer accept responsibility for the property – that nothing would be removed or damaged.

 

On the return trip to Jerusalem, we met Moshe Dayan, who was on his way to Hebron. We flagged down his car and I told him about what we had done at the Cave of the Patriarchs, about the statement of surrender and the order I had given to the Arab who was in charge of the compound. Dayan said that I had done well and agreed with everything. He did not object to the fact that we had hung up a flag…

 

As soon as the battles died down on all the fronts, the war was declared over, and we began sending soldiers back home, my thoughts turned to the fate of the Cave of the Patriarchs. I was afraid that Moshe Dayan was planning to return this site to the Muslims. The previous Thursday night, in the middle of the night, I had already decided to take the aron kodesh and the sefer Torah that were in my office at General Staff headquarters and move them into the Cave of the Patriarchs, in order to create a fait accompli. I went there in the middle of the night with my assistants. We opened the gate and installed the aron kodesh and the sefer Torah inside the Cave of the Patriarchs. The qadi must have had a few spies who notified him of our arrival, because at 2:00 a.m. he suddenly turned up at the compound, but he didn’t say a word. He knew very well that I had taken command of the site and there would be no point in challenging me. I told him that I was closing the Cave of the Patriarchs to Arab worshippers for a month, because I was going to bring in the engineering corps to repair and renovate the site. We put all the carpets away in a storeroom in the Cave of the Patriarchs and replaced them with plastic sheeting. I told the Arabs that they could pray in the outer hall, where the Arab women used to pray.

 

At first I wasn’t sure where to set up the aron kodesh. I felt that the largest hall, Ohel Yitzĥak, looked too much like a mosque. There were quotes from the Koran on the walls and a place for the muezzin, and it didn’t feel right to me to hold the regular services at the Cave of the Patriarchs in a place so permeated with symbols from the Koran. I therefore decided to put the aron kodesh in the hall that leads into Ohel Yitzĥak. Even though that hall is smaller, it is more suitable for prayer services. I brought siddurim and Ĥumashim, too, and all the basic furnishings for a synagogue, and I set up the aron kodesh such that it would be clear to all that this was the way it would remain. It was a miracle that I managed to get there in the middle of the night and get everything set up, otherwise, this place would not be under Israeli control today and we would not be able to daven there.

 

A few days later, the Knesset held a festive luncheon that was essentially a victory celebration for all the IDF generals and senior commanders of the Six Day War. In the middle of that event, Moshe Dayan suddenly came over to me and said, “Rabbi Goren, I handed the management of the Cave of the Patriarchs over to the qadi of the Waqf.”

 

I was outraged and astounded that he would do such a thing.

 

“Who gave you the right to do that?” I asked him. “Is it your private property?”

 

“That’s what I decided!” he replied, and said there were three things I had to do (afterward I also received a letter to this effect from the chief of staff, by order of the defense minister): 1. Take down the flag I had hung there, because the site is an Arab mosque and an inappropriate place for the flag; 2. Remove the aron kodesh and the sefer Torah, because the site is not a synagogue for Jewish prayer services; 3. Issue an order that any Jew who wants to go to the Cave of the Patriarchs can go only as far as the seventh stair, and pray there, or if he wants to go inside the Cave of the Patriarchs, he must remove his shoes, because he is entering a mosque.

 

When I heard this, I was so angry that I exploded.

 

“Do you think you can hand over the Cave of the Patriarchs to the Arabs?!” I shouted. “It’s a holy site for the Jewish people! This is the burial place of the fathers and mothers of our nation; this is where the kingship of the House of David began. This is what our soldiers have been fighting for. Who gave you the right to relinquish all that and give it to the Arabs?”

 

I left the luncheon in a rage. Later that day, I went to Dayan’s office and told him, “This cannot go on! I held my peace when you gave the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. I should have raised a hue and cry at that point, and I’m sorry that I didn’t. But this time it won’t happen. The entire Jewish People will curse you forever. You will be the most accursed man in Jewish history if you do this thing. You will go down in history as a terrible disgrace.”

 

I said that to Dayan, and immediately turned around and left his office. He had a habit that when he issued orders that the generals didn’t like and they wanted to meet with him and voice their objections to the orders, he would let them say their piece and not utter a word. After they finished with everything they wanted to say, and were standing by the door, he would tell them, “You will do what I want, and not what you want,” and the generals could not say anything more, because the conversation was over. I did not want him to say that to me, so I just left immediately.

 

I also told him explicitly: “Regarding the aron kodesh and the sefer Torah, I will disobey the order and will not remove them. As for the flag, I won’t fight with you – the flag is no holier to me than to you, and I believe it should stay, but if you send an officer to remove it, I won’t oppose him. Regarding the aron kodesh and the sefer Torah, however, and the matter of removing shoes – I will fight those with all my might and will make sure that anyone who cares deeply about them will fight you over this decision.”

 

In addition to everything I said to Dayan, I also wrote an angry letter, lambasting his decision. I did not hold anything back, and the letter made a difference. [See With Might and Strength for the full text of the letter.]

 

The following day, I received a letter from Chief of Staff Rabin, stating that the defense minister had ordered that the first directive regarding the flag remain in effect, but that the implementation of the other two directives – regarding the removal of the sefer Torah and aron kodesh from the Cave of the Patriarchs, and the requirement for any Jew entering the site to remove his shoes – had been postponed until further notice. My letter had had the desired effect and the decree had been rescinded.

IDF Generals join Rav Goren at entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs

IDF Generals join Rav Goren at entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs

 

For more from Rabbi Goren’s autobiography, see With Might and Strength, published by Koren Publications, available online and at your local Jewish bookstore.

Rav Shlomo Goren

One Terrorist Dead, One Injured in Stabbing Attempt near Cave of Patriarchs [video]

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Two Arab terrorist who tried to stab security personnel were shot, one of them dead, at 1:30 PM Monday, outside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. According to Hatzalah, one Border Guard policeman was lightly injured and received treatment. The terrorist, who was seriously injured, is also receiving treatment.

David Israel

Cave of the Patriarchs Closes to Jews for Muslim Holiday

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

The administration of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron has announced it will close its doors to Jews on Wednesday (May 4, Nisan 26) due to the Islamic holiday of Lailat al Miraj.

Both Jews and Muslims pray at the site, where it is believed the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried, as well as Adam and Eve.

The holiday of Lailat al Miraj commemorates the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s nighttime journey from Mecca to the ‘farthest mosque’ in Jerusalem, from where Muslims believe he ascended to heaven, was purified, and was given the instruction for Muslims to pray five times a day.

“Prayers and visitation will take place on the Seventh Step,” the administration said in its statement.

The Temple Mount will also be closed to Jews on Wednesday for the same reason.

On Thursday the Cave of the Patriarchs will reopen to Jews beginning at 4 am as usual.

Hana Levi Julian

Listen To Sarah

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

First published: Jewish Business News.

I’m writing this about half an hour after having heard the news of the murder of at least four Jews who were praying in a synagogue in a Haredi neighborhood in West Jerusalem. If anyone has had any delusions about this not being a religious war, and anything but a religious war, one need only connect the images that are emerging from this morning’s massacre of four Jewish men in the middle of their morning prayer to the images of Jews massacred in Hebron, in 1929.

In both instances, and in so many others, many of them in just the past few weeks, it was always an enraged, maddened Arab attacker, having been stuffed to the gills with hate by his environment—real and virtual—who exited civilization to become the avenging angel of whatever god he imagined was blessing this horror.

Being a pragmatic person, I, like so many of you, immediately started thinking of, well, what to do next. One really has to be nearly as mad as this morning’s two grocery workers-turned murdering butchers, to suggest they went on their murder spree to advance the cause of independence for their downtrodden Palestinian brothers and sisters. Clearly, they were out to kill as many Jews as they could before some policeman managed to shoot them dead. They were driven by religious hatred, determined to strike at the conquering enemy, wherever they could find him.

They must have talked about it beforehand. Schemed just how to acquire a gun, collect and hide butcher knives, coordinate their attack so as to inflict maximum damage before the unavoidable end. They were seeking only one thing: kill as many Jews as they could, while they still could. They had no concern for their own well being or even their lives. They sought death, willingly, lovingly.

Over the past two decades, the imaginations of a billion and a half Muslims have been ignited by a call to arms the likes of which they had not experienced since the crusades. With 9/11, followed by the emergence of Muslim zeal everywhere on the planet, and recently with the undeniable rise of the new caliphate in Syria and Iraq, Muslims young and old are awash in orgiastic fantasies of the rebirth of their old glory.

This is not a conspiracy, nor is this the actual wish of most Muslims in the world, it’s a fantasy. And the longer Western countries, including Israel, continue to respond to events around us as if they were localized emergencies, to be solved, managed, contained – the fantasy will grow more powerful.

Already we hear the president of Egypt accusing the Turkish secret service of supporting Muslim terrorists. And we’ve known for years of Pakistani secret service support for the Taliban and, by extension, Al Qaeda. The secret services of Muslim countries represent the vanguards of these nations. They’re not only living the fantasy in their everyday lives, they also know how far it can be taken if only they could master whole countries and their weapons.

Left unchecked, this Muslim fantasy will only fester and grow beyond anything our leaders in the west can imagine. I suspect that every erupted murder episode like this morning’s attack on Jews in prayer represents hundreds, perhaps thousands of others, yet unquenched.

Unfortunately, the only way to end this fantasy before it becomes so big it will envelope whole countries, is to crush it.

Which brings me to our beautiful matriarch, Sarah.

Sarah saw through Ishmael, the offspring of her slave girl Hagar and her husband, Abraham. He was up to no good, either plotting to rape her son Isaac or kill him, depending on which interpreter you prefer.

At another point, an angel of God told Hagar exactly who her son, Ishmael, father of all the Arabs was: “This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” (Gen, 16:12)

Biblical prophesies can be so annoying when they come true right in front of your eyes.

Sarah was no fool. She was, actually, the greatest prophet of her time. So she ordered her husband, Abraham, to get rid of the kid and his mother. Chase them out, she told him, in no uncertain terms.

She had no delusions about Ishmael.

This was the hardest moment in Abraham’s life. He just couldn’t being himself to do something this cruel. He resisted. He wouldn’t do it.

And so, according to our biblical account, God intervened:

God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you.” (Gen. 21:12)

And so Abraham, finally, obeyed his wife. There was no discussion of rehabilitation for the boy, no talk of cultural assimilation. He had to go.

I have no idea what will happen next in our war-torn Middle East and in the rest of the world. I suspect Sarah’s command still seems too harsh to most of us, myself included. It’s one thing to chase a woman and her son out into the desert, but what do you do with millions of Muslims? How do you recover from something like that? It’s one mad fantasy touching on another, evoking a third.

But if you’d like to know what our great grandmother Sarah, if she woke up today, would have told us, I can assure you, she would have said: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” (Ge. 12:10)

Tibbi Singer

Two Arabs Caught Vandalizing Tomb of the Patriarchs

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Two Palestinians were arrested last night after being caught red handed in the commission of an act of vandalism in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The two were recorded on security cameras as they were ripping a Mezuzah off the wall in the hall of Ya’acov and Leah.

Superintendent Barak Arusi, commander of the police unit guarding the site, stated that the two, aged 20, were charged with attempted theft and with an attempt to offend religious sentiments. During their questioning one of the detainees denied his involvement, but the confessed to the charges and implicated his accomplice as well. They are both held in custody.

This is the fourth reported act of desecration by Muslims against Jewish religious symbols over the month of Ramadan. Tazpit News Agency reported yesterday that Mezuzahs were desecrated for a third time by Muslims frequenting the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Following the incident Sunday, Muslims age 18 – 35 were barred temporarily from entering the Tomb of the patriarchs, but Major General Nitzan Alon, chief of the IDF Central Command, rescinded the directive. A short while later, the two vandals were caught in the act.


Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Third Time this Ramadan – Tomb of the Patriarchs Desecrated by Muslims

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

For the third time this month of Ramadan, Muslims visiting the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron have desecrated Jewish religious objects at the site, tearing the Mezuzahs off the doorposts and stealing them. They took advantage of the special visiting privileges the Muslims receive from the IDF during the month of Ramadan, during which, on Fridays and a few special days, the Tomb of Patriarchs is open only to Muslims.

Local police announced they have arrested two Palestinians in connection with the vandalism, but are still searching for the thieves. The act was recorded by surveillance cameras. A member of the Waqf was nearby during the act of vandalism.

In response to the repeated attacks, the site management has decided to limit the access of Palestinians. Muslims aged 18 – 35 will not be permitted in on the special days allocated to Muslims only. Further actions are being considered to prevent these attacks in the future.

Following the previous attack, Member of Knesset Orit Struk, a resident of Hebron, told Tazpit News Agency: “The Arabs used the opportunity they had on Friday to desecrate the Mezuzot. We cannot be silent about this incident. During the 700 years of Muslim occupation, the Tomb of the Patriarchs was completely closed to Jews. Today, when the State of Israel is considerate of Muslim holidays and permits them full use of the site – they exploit it to harm Jewish symbols. I expect the Muslim leaders in Hebron and Israel to apologize to the Jewish People and condemn this heinous episode.”

Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/third-time-this-ramadan-tomb-of-the-patriarchs-desecrated-by-muslims/2013/08/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: