Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Rites to Bury Desecrated Religious Articles Turns into Rally for Massive Settlement of ‘greater Isra

August 9, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The ritual burial in Hebron yesterday of torn pages of prayerbooks and other remnants of Jewish religious articles was transformed into a political demonstration for massive settlement of “Greater Israel” and criticism by the mourners of the Israeli army’s “weak hand” toward the Arabs.

Jewish residents of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the West Bank, led by newly-elected members of Knesset, a Deputy Minister and several rabbis, marched through the streets of Hebron — target of hostile stares of local Arabs — to inter the demaged holy texts in the local Jewish cemetery.

The torn sacred articles were found last weekend in the Hebron local flea market, once again raising Jewish-Arab tensions in the city of the patriarchs. The mystery of the identity of the desecrators remained unresolved and police still have made no arrests.

The rites began inside the Tomb of the Patriarch, filled with Jewish worshippers who had come from all parts of Israel. After rites in front of the Tomb, several hundred Jews marched to the nearby Jewish cemetery, where the desecrated items, assembled in an earthenware and and buried, were then covered with a plate of glass. While evidence of deliberate vandalism was considered dubious, the Jewish mourners showed no doubt it had been done deliberately by Arabs.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, the newly-elected Kach Party Knesset member, was loudest on the subject. He shouted, “How many times shall we have to gather here to mourn? I did not come here to euologize. You can no longer say our hands have not spilled the blood, because we have. Those who have supported this co-existence (with the Arabs) collaborated in this murder and this desecration of God. The Arabs are guilty? No, we (the Jews) are guilty.”

Border police and IDF troops were present in large numbers to prevent incidents. One incident occurred near the end of the ceremony when a group of yeshiva students charged that a stone was thrown at them from an Arab-occupied building. Security forces rushed to the scene, detained inhabitants for interrogation and sent the Jewish mourners away.

Recommended from JTA