1980 Hebron attack

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1980 Hebron attack
Part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Beit Hadassah in Hebron, location of the terrorist attack
1980 Hebron attack is located in the Southern West Bank
1980 Hebron attack
The attack site
Date2 May 1980; 43 years ago (1980-05-02)
Attack type
WeaponsRifles and grenades
Deaths3 Israeli, 2 American, 1 Canadian civilians
Injured20 Israeli and American civilians
No. of participants
4 Palestinian terrorists

On 2 May 1980, six Jews – three Israelis, two American Israelis, and one Canadian – were killed, and another 20 Jews were injured[1] at 7:30 pm on a Friday night as they returned home from Sabbath prayer services at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.[2] Five of the six killed were yeshiva students aged 20–21. They were attacked with gunfire and grenades from the rooftops around a small alley.

It was the most deadly attack on the Israeli occupied West Bank since the Six-Day War.[3]


The attack, unprecedented in the post-1967 period, was understood to mark a transition from "hit-and-run" attacks to attacks aiming to achieve mass casualties by the use of military tactics and careful planning.[4]


The attack was carefully planned in military style. The terrorists had studied the route and timing of the return of worshipers to the Jewish residence in the former Hadassah medical clinic (Beit Hadassah) on Friday evenings, and attacked from both street and rooftop level as soon as the Jews appeared in the narrow passageway.[4] Terrorist Adnan Jabar was posted on the roof of a building opposite the Hadassah medical clinic holding a Kalashnikov with which he "opened fire" as soon as the Jewish pedestrians came into view.[3] Israeli guards at the former clinic immediately returned fire.[4] Perpetrators admitted to having received instructions directly from Khalil al-Wazir.[5] Israel sent a protest note to the United Nations, arguing that "this criminal incident illustrates once again the true character of the PLO and its violent aims".[6]

Legal proceedings


An extensive cache of explosives and weapons was discovered; it included the guns used in the attack.[7]


In September 1980, four members of Fatah were arrested and charged with carrying out the attack. One of the four had trained in the USSR. Two were arrested while trying to cross from Israel into Jordan.[7]

An additional six Arab Palestinians were taken into custody, charged with aiding the terrorists by providing lodging and transportation.[7]

Trial and sentencing

All four terrorists were sentenced to life in prison, but were later released in prisoner exchanges.[1]


  • Tzvi Glatt, 20, American-Israeli yeshiva student at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem.[8] A budding scholar, Glatt was the author of "Rise From the Dust".[9]
  • Shmuel Mermelstein, 21, yeshiva student from Montreal[8] who was studying at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh. He was the only victim without Israeli citizenship.[10]
  • Gershon Klein, 20, yeshiva student at the Nir Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba.
  • Hanan Krauthamer, 21, from Bnei Brak, French-Israeli yeshiva student at the Nir Yeshiva.
  • Yaakov Zimmerman, 20, from Bnei Brak,[11] yeshiva student at the Nir Yeshiva.
  • Eli HaZeev, 32,[12] decorated Vietnam War veteran who came to Israel during the Yom Kippur War and converted to Judaism.[13]

Glatt and Marmelstein were visiting friends at Kiryat Arba when the attack occurred.[8]

Four of the wounded were American citizens: Mordechai Shevat, 21, of The Bronx; Robert Brosovsky, 21; Simha Wollman, 21, of Brooklyn, and Lisa Sherman, 20, of Queens.[8]


All of the terrorists were members of Fatah.[5]

Members of the ambush squad

  • Yasser Hussein Mohammed Zedat (30), squad leader. From Hebron; fled to Jordan after firing a Katyusha rocket at Kiryat Arba in April 1977; trained in terrorist tactics in Lebanon.[5]
  • Adnan Jabar (32), second in command.[5] Underwent 6 months of intensive training in small arms, explosives, military tactics, and ideology in Skhodnya, Soviet Union in 1974 in a program where Fatah and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militants trained together.[3] He had also trained in Syria and Lebanon.[3]
  • Tayseer Abu Sneineh (30). Elected Mayor of Hebron in 2017.[14]
  • Mohammed Shubaki (32). Farmer. Accused in a 1979 shooting murder of an Israeli couple.[5]


  • Omar Haroub (30). Accused of providing weapons and transportation on the night of the ambush. A chemistry graduate of the University of Beirut working for a blood bank in East Jerusalem.[5]


The attack prompted the government of Menachem Begin to refurbish the Hadassah medical clinic and to permit Jews to live in the Beit Hason and Beit Schneerson buildings adjacent to it.[15]

The Israeli community of Beit Hagai (House of Haggai) was established in 1982 by former classmates of boys murdered in this attack. In addition to being the name of a Biblical Prophet, Haggai, is an acronym of the given names Hanan Krauthamer, Gershon Klein, and Yaakov Zimmerman, the three Nir Yeshiva (Kiryat Arba) students killed in an attack on 2 May 1980.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Palestinian terrorist in killing of 6 Jews elected Hebron mayor". Times of Israel. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  2. ^ Byman, Daniel (15 June 2011). A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism. Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 9780199830459.
  3. ^ a b c d Claiborne, William (17 November 1980). "PLO Terrorist Recalls His Training, Mission: Terrorist: Soviets Gave PLO Training". Newsday. ProQuest 1002861278.
  4. ^ a b c Torgerson, Dial (6 May 1980). "Arab Attack on Hebron Signals Shift of Terrorist Tactics". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 162803326.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Claiborne, William (17 September 1980). "Israel Charges 10 Palestinians in Hebron Ambush". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  6. ^ Y. Z. Blum, Israeli Ambassador of Israel to the UN, Letter to the Secretary General dated 4 May 1980. UN codes A/35/207 and S/13923.
  7. ^ a b c Shipler, David (17 September 1980). "Israel Holds 10 Arabs for Slaying of 6 Jews in May". New York Times. ProQuest 423982400.
  8. ^ a b c d "Friends of Yeshiva Students Murdered in Hebron Recall Their Objectives". JTA. 7 May 1980. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  9. ^ Eisenberg, Malka. "Victim of terror in Hebron believed in Israel". The Jewish Star. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Shmuel Mermelstein HY"D". israelmatzav.blogspot.com. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  11. ^ "טוראי יעקב צימרמן בן בינה ואריה". izkor.gov.il. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  12. ^ Claiborne, William (7 May 1980). "Virginia Man's Violent World Ends in West Bank". Washington Post. Washington Post Foreign Service. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  13. ^ Jerold, Auerbach (28 April 2010). "Martyrs and Memory". Jewish Press. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Palestinian terrorist in killing of 6 Jews elected Hebron mayor". Times of Israel. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  15. ^ Keinon, Herb (17 January 1997). "Jerusalem's elder sister". Jerusalem Post. ProQuest 319182566.
  16. ^ "The Six Murdered Outside Beit Hadassah". Jewish Community of Hebron. 19 July 2006. Archived from the original on 19 February 2010.