Remembering the 65th Anniversary of the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre

The Hadassah Convoy Massacre was not the worst of the atrocities, but the burning alive of doctors and nurses in a medical convoy, showed Israelis that peace was impossible.

While the State Department denounces Israel for building houses in Jerusalem, the 65th anniversary of the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre reminds us that the Muslim terrorists worked to ethnically cleanse the native Jewish population from their city, engaging in attacks on civil and communal institutions, a wave of violence that concluded with the destruction of the synagogues of East Jerusalem and the expulsion of its Jewish population.

Condemnations of Jewish life in East Jerusalem are really an endorsement of this ethnic cleansing.

The Hadassah Convoy Massacre was not the worst of the atrocities, but the burning alive of doctors and nurses in a medical convoy, showed Israelis that peace was impossible. And so it has proven to be.

The barbarity of the attack was then followed by snapshots of the dead, who in some cases had been decapitated, being sold as postcards as yet another reminder that the enemy was operating on a whole other notion of morality.

There are those who still remember...

On April 13, 1948, a medical convoy left the Hadassah clinic on Rehov Hasollel (today Rehov Hahavatzelet), with doctors, nurses, patients, Hebrew University staff and students, making its way to the Mount Scopus enclave. Accompanying the armored ambulance, two armored Hamekasher buses and supply trucks were armored cars at either end of the convoy. British policemen assured the convoy that the route was safe, but at close to 10 a.m. the convoy was ambushed by Arabs in Sheikh Jarrah. The attack went on for hours, with some armed convoy members defending the passengers. Five of the vehicles managed to extricate themselves to safety. The buses were set afire by the Arab attackers, and passengers who escaped were shot.

"I wasn't in school that day," recalls Tamar Fuchs, who was 12 at the time and lived nearby. "At about 10 a.m., a neighbor burst in shouting, 'They're attacking the convoy to Mt. Scopus.' From the roof, we saw black smoke and passing British cars which did not offer help. The sharp smells of burnt flesh drifted with the eastern winds in our direction. Until 2 p.m. we saw smoke and heard explosions. My friend's sister, nurse Ziva Barazani, was in the convoy. Her remains were not found."

Unlike the lie of the Deir Yassin massacre, the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre isn't likely to be remembered much outside of limited Jewish circles. While the death of terrorists is a war crime, burning alive doctors and nurses is just not spoken about.

During World War II, the staff of Hadassah Hospital played a significant role in helping Allied military forces throughout the Middle East. They offered weekly lectures and meetings to British medical personnel that acquainted them with regional medical issues including blood diseases, jaundice, dysentery, anemia and high blood pressure. Courses were also given on how to deal with infestations of sand-flies, worms, poisonous snakes, mosquitoes and other disease carrying insects.

The Hebrew University’s Department of Bacteriology and Hygiene provided anti-typhus and anti-dysentery vaccines. The Zoology Department’s research on relapsing cave fever taught the British army to avoid encampments near caves.

Malaria was a major debilitating threat to Allied forces.  As a result, the British Army established ten anti-malaria units that were sent to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, Burma, Greece and Italy in advance of their troops. Four of these units were under the command of Jewish malaria experts, who pioneered the use of aerial use of pesticides to kill nests of mosquitoes. Medical expertise was provided by the Parasitology Department.

While Hadassah and Hebrew University were assisting the British, Arabs led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, were fighting a guerrilla war against the British and Jews. In late 1941, as a refugee in Berlin, the Mufti used radio broadcasts to urge Arabs to become fifth columns in the lands where they lived and to commit sabotage and to murder Allied troops and Jews.


Once the partition of Palestine was approved by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, the violence against the Jews intensified. The equivalent of a Red Cross medical convoy comprised of non-combatants including doctors, nurses and university faculty and students was ambushed by Arabs in the Sheikh Jarrah section of Jerusalem. Although The British High Commissioner and the British Secretary of State personally gave their assurances that these convoys would be protected by British troops and police, seventy-eight Jews were murdered.

The attack, which lasted seven hours, began at 9:30 a.m. and took place less than 600 feet from the British military post. The British watched from the sidelines. Jewish appeals for help were ignored until mid-afternoon.  But by then the Jews had either been burned alive in buses or shot. There were 28 survivors, only eight had no injuries.

Among the dead were the founders of the new faculty of medicine, a physicist, a philologist, a cancer researcher, the head of the university’s department of psychology, and an authority on Jewish law. A doctor who waited four years to marry the nurse he loved was killed when he went to say good bye to his patients before leaving on his honeymoon.

One victim, a doctor, treated the Arab peasants in the village of Isawiye on Mount Scopus two weeks prior to the attack. Yet Arabs claimed that the ambush was a heroic act, and the British had no business intervening even at the last-minute: They did not want a single Jewish passenger to remain alive.

They failed. And the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem undid Muslim ethnic cleansing efforts. But Obama Inc's attacks on Jews living in East Jerusalem is trying to finish their work for them.

It wasn't the first time that Hadassah medical personnel were repaid for their kindness with Muslim atrocities.

The story of Ben Tzion Gershon was typical. Ben Tzion, who had worked for years as a pharmacist in the Hadassah clinic in Hebron, was known for his acts of kindness to his Arab neighbors. He was so sure of their gratitude, so compassionate for their plight, that he opened his door to an Arab woman feigning labor pains on the first night of the rampage.

The mob, hiding in the shadows, rushed in, tied up Ben Tzion, and gang-raped his wife. When he pleaded with them, calling them by their names to stop, they replied, "If you don't want to see it, you don't have to," and proceeded to poke out his eyes.

In front of the Gershons' two daughters, their neighbors dismembered both Ben Tzion and his wife. The story was testified to by one of the daughters, who lived for a week before dying of her wounds. The other daughter spent the rest of her life in a mental institution.

Danny Pearl's captors knew him for six days. Ben Tzion Gershon's murderers had known him -- had benefited from his kindnesses -- for decades. The assumption that if they only knew how good, how humane we are, they wouldn't hate us is a tenet of humanistic fundamentalist that its proponents hold despite all the historical evidence to the contrary.