Exhume Bodies of Jewish Victims of Hebron Massacre

The bodies of 57 Jewish victims of the Hebron massacre, buried hurriedly immediately after their death at the hands of the assailants, without regard to the Orthodox Jewish ritual for burial, were exhumed early Wednesday morning in the presence of government officials and the required religious quorum. Mr. Gilman, a representative of the American Consulate in Jerusalem; Col. Frederick H. Kisch, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and a handful of newspaper correspondents, witnessed the grim scene which lasted from dawn to sunset.

A committee of 9 physicians, consisting of 3 Britishers, 3 Moslems and 3 Jews, acted as an examining body to ascertain whether mutilations were perpetrated upon the victims by the Arabs during and after the killing, as was testified by eye-witnesses and contested by the Arab Executive and some officials of the Palestine Health Department.

The final report of the physicians committee will be kept secret, it was declared, until the arrival in Palestine of the British parliamentary Commission of Inquiry.

A large cordon of the military and police surrounded the hill on which the Jewish cemetery is located, to which no one was admitted except twenty Jews, pious men who volunteered to perform this religious service as the Chief Rabbinate of Palestine obtained the permission of the authorities for exhuming the bodies in order to secure for the victims proper Jewish burial. The authorities permitted only the twenty men to be present and they, as well as the official witnesses and newspapermen were given white gauze masks.

Grim tragedy stared at the onlookers as the bodies were removed from the hurriedly dug graves, enshrouded and reburied in new graves. Because of the denials of the Palestine Arab Executive, extreme caution accompanied the examination of the bodies. As each body was taken out from a grave, it was first passed to the Jewish commission which examined it for signs of torture and mutilation. If none was found, the body was reburied immediately. Otherwise, the Moslem physicians were called to give their opinion. When controversy arose, the British physicians were asked to make their inspection.

As the bodies were buried 18 days ago, and in some cases had reached the state of putrifaction, medico-legal examination was difficult.

In accordance with Jewish ritual, the Kaddish, the final prayer for the dead, was recited for each of the victims as they were reburied.

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