Cave of Machpelah Massacre Takes Place

February 25, 1994

Baruch Goldstein, an American immigrant and member of the radical Kach party, opened fire at Muslim worshippers in Hebron, killing thirty and wounding 125 before being beaten to death by survivors.  The massacre led to two days of riots between Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank.  The worshippers were praying at the Mosque of Abraham on the site of the Cave of Machpelah, the burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah, according to the Torah.

The attack is widely condemned by Israeli leaders and Jews around the world.  President Ezer Weizman called the Machpelah massacre “the worst thing that has happened to us in the history of Zionism.”  Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin addressed the Knesset by saying, “As a Jew and an Israeli, as a man and human being, I am humiliated by the shame brought upon us by the lowly killer.”  Several days of violence and rioting continued, jeopardizing the nascent peace process.

Goldstein was a physician in Kiryat Arba, a suburb of Hebron which was established in 1971 as the first Jewish community in the West Bank following the June 1967 Six Day War.  He was born in Brooklyn and made aliyah in 1983 after graduating from Yeshiva University and receiving a medical degree from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine.  While serving as a physician in the IDF, it has been reported that he refused to treat Arabs.  Goldstein was a follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane, an extreme right wing advocate of removing all Arabs from the land of Israel.  Kahane’s party Kach was banned by the Knesset for having a racist platform in 1988. The Machpelah massacre took place during Ramadan and on the holiday of Purim.