Baruch Goldstein

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Baruch Goldstein
Born December 9, 1956(1956-12-09)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died February 25, 1994 (aged 37)
Hebron, West Bank
Cause of death Beaten to death
Resting place Kiryat Arba, across from the Meir Kahane Memorial Park
Residence Kiryat Arba
Other names Benjamin Goldstein
Alma mater Yeshiva University (1977) highest honors, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Occupation Physician (emergency doctor)
Years active 11
Known for Killing 29 Palestinians and injuring 125
Religion Judaism
Spouse Miriam Goldstein

Baruch Kappel Goldstein (December 9, 1956February 25, 1994) was an American born Israeli physician and mass murderer who killed 29 Muslims during Islamic prayers in the Ibrahimi Mosque (within the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron in 1994. Goldstein was a member of the Jewish fanatical organization, Jewish Defense League. After killing 29 people and wounding another 150 he was disarmed and beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.


Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, New York to an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended the Yeshivah of Flatbush religious day school and Yeshiva University.[1] He received his medical training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He belonged to the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a militant Jewish organization founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane.[2]

After emigrating to Israel, he served as a physician in the Israeli Defense Force, first as a conscript, then in the reserve forces. Following the end of his active duty, Goldstein worked as a physician and lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron, where he served as an emergency doctor.[3]

In the autumn of 1993, in recognition of his medical work, Goldstein received two citations from the Israeli Army.[4] In January 1994, Major Dr Yitzchak Ashkenazi, the local medical officer of the district of Judea and Samaria recommended Goldstein for promotion to the rank of Major in the Israeli Army".[5]

Cave of the Patriarchs massacre

On February 25, 1994, that year's Purim day, Goldstein entered a room in the Cave of the Patriarchs serving as a mosque, wearing "his army uniform with the insignia of rank, creating the image of a reserve officer on active duty" (Shamgar report). He then opened fire, killing 29 Arab Muslims and wounding 150 (A Time Magazine article from March 7th, 1994 reported that Israeli officials counted 39 killed and Palestinians reported 52 killed [6]). Mosque guard Mohammad Suleiman Abu Saleh said he thought that Goldstein was trying to kill as many people as possible and described how there were "bodies and blood everywhere." After being subdued with a fire extinguisher and disarmed, Goldstein was beaten to death.[7] According to Ian Lustick, 'by mowing down Arabs he believed wanted to kill Jews, Goldstein was reenacting part of the Purim story.[8]

The death certificate issued by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior lists the cause of his death as "murder."[9] Although the Israeli authorities knew (via an Arab source who was present that morning) the names of those who killed Goldstein, they were never brought to trial although his wife requested that they be charged with homicide.[10]

Palestinian rioting immediately followed the shooting, leading in the following week to the deaths of 25 Palestinians and five Israelis.[11] Following the massacre, Israel imposed a two-week curfew on the 120,000 Palestinian residents of the city, while the 400 Jewish settlers remained free to move around.[12] The Israeli government condemned the massacre.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin telephoned Mr Arafat, describing the attack as a "loathsome, criminal act of murder".[13]

Treatment of non-Jews

Contradictory evidence exists as to whether he refused to treat non-Jews in his service as a civilian physician or while serving in the Israeli Army. Israeli press-reports state that he refused to treat non-Jews, even those serving in the IDF. When Goldstein was threatened with court-martial he declared: "I am not willing to treat any non-Jew. I recognize as legitimate only two religious authorities: Maimonides and Kahane."[14]

The Shamgar Commission, which later investigated Goldstein's role in the Cave of the Patriachs massacre, noted that Goldstein had treated an Arab militant in October 1990. Also, Moshe Givati, the former Brigade Commander in Hebron,"[15] Colonel Dr. Arie Eldad, Medical Officer of the Central Command,"[16] Major Nachman Ash, Medical Officer of the Judea and Samaria Division,"[17] and Moti Unger, the Night Security Officer of the Kiryat Arba Local Council"[18] all testified that Goldstein had treated Jew and Arab alike. Evidence was also given by Superintendent Uri Weisskop, who was acting Commander of the Hebron Police Station, that he had not come across any case of Goldstein refusing to give medical aid to a wounded Arab."[19]

Gravesite and shrine

Goldstein is buried at the Meir Kahane Memorial Park in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish community adjacent to Hebron. The park is named in memory of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Israeli far-right political party Kach, a group classified by the United States and Israeli governments as a terrorist organization. Goldstein was a long-time devotee of Kahane.[20]

The gravesite has become a pilgrimage site for those with extreme right-wing political views; a plaque near the grave reads "To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel."[21] In 1996, members of the Labor Party called for the shrine-like landscaped prayer area near the grave to be removed, and Israeli security officials expressed concern that the grave would encourage extremists.[22] In 1999, following passage of a law designed to prohibit monuments to terrorists, and an associated Supreme Court ruling, the Israeli Army bulldozed the shrine and prayer area set up near Goldstein's grave.[23]


  1. Precker, Michael. "Brooklyn's image as extremist hotbed disputed by some Borough defenders say ties to Israel cherished, but radical groups aren't", The Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1994. Accessed August 6, 2007. "'This is not what we are teaching,' said Rabbi David Eliach, principal at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, where Dr. Goldstein attended high school."
  2. BBC NEWS "Goldstein had been a member of the Jewish Defense League."
  3. BBC NEWS "Goldstein had lived in Israel for 11 years and was a doctor in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron." "As the settlement's main emergency doctor he was involved in treating victims of Arab-Israeli violence."
  4. Certificate of Esteem from the Medical Department of the district of Judea and Samaria, dated 22 September 1993; Certificate of Esteem and Thanks from the Commander of the Medical Command, dated Tishri 5754 (September 1993)
  5. Recommendation for promotion on [Israel] Independence Day, signed by Major Dr. Yitzchak Ashkenazi, Local Medical Officer of the district of Judea and Samaria, dated 18 January 1994.
  6. [[1]]
  7. Shamgar Commission: Report pp. 15, 47-48.
  8. Ian Lustick, For The Land and The Lord,Council on Foreign Relations (1988) 2nd.ed.1994, Preface
  9. Official Death Certificate dated 9 March, 1994, issued by Ministry of Interior of the State of Israel.
  10. Tel Aviv District Court Archives file I.S. 1160/94, Para. 4, 5 (February 11, 1998).
  11. Middle East Journal, Chronology, vol 48, no 3 (Summer 1994) p. 511 ff.
  12. Fabled town, divided and bruised, 'The Hindu, May 21, 2006.
  13. [2].
  14. Arych Kizel in Yediot Aharonot, 1 March 1994.
  15. Shamgar Commission Minutes pp.1615-16
  16. Shamgar Commission Minutes pp.78
  17. Shamgar Commission Minutes pp.420
  18. Shamgar Commission Minutes pp.730
  19. Shamgar Commission Minutes pp.336
  20. The Making of a Murderous Fanatic, 'Time, March 7, 1994.
  21. "Graveside party celebrates Hebron massacre." BBC News, 21 March, 2000 [3]
  22. "Goldstein's grave draws extremists." Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 22, 1996. [4]
  23. "Israel removes shrine to mosque murderer." CNN, 29 December, 1999. [5]