The number 67 may not mean anything to some, but it resonates with Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) because of the connection to the Six Day War, which occurred in 1967. It’s also the number of years since the horrific Hadassah medical convoy massacre that killed 80 people.
A solemn ceremony was held today at Hadassah Hospital Mt. Scopus marking 67 years since 78 men and women were ambushed and killed while delivering aid to Hadassah’s hospital.
On the morning of the 4th of Nissan, April 13, 1948 on the general calendar, 10 vehicles gathered in the center of Jerusalem for the two-mile drive to Mount Scopus when a bomb exploded on the road near the ambulance where Director General Chaim Yassky and his wife Fannie were traveling. Despite the clear markings that these were medical vehicles, and the white flags waving from the cars, terrorists attacked the convoy. Five vehicles managed to turn back. The other five were attacked with guns and Molotov cocktails. For seven hours they were under fire—many burned to death even though the British forces were nearby.
What used to be a private day of mourning for the Hadassah family is now a national ceremony. The Jerusalem Municipality was represented by Deputy Mayor Zion Turgeman and the Chief IDF Cantor Lt. Col. Shai Abramson who sang “El Malei Rachamim.” Interim Deputy Director Professor Tamar Peretz spoke of the continuing dedication of Hadassah staff to the life-saving values of their martyred predecessors. Mount Scopus Director Dr. Osnat Levzion-Korach stressed that the hospital continues to serve all patients, regardless of race, religion, and gender despite the challenges it faces.
Among the mourners was iris Yassky, the granddaughter of Dr. Chaim Yassky. “My grandmother only spoke twice in her life about that day in the convoy,” Yassky said. “Afterwards, she said she couldn’t manage it again. It was too much for her.
My grandfather—the world famous ophthalmologist—took a bullet in the liver, bade his wife goodbye and died,” Yassky continued. “She took off her blouse to try and stanch the wound. At last, she walked away from the scene, all the way to town without her blouse. A jeep of British officers who were used to taking tea with the Yasskys on Sunday afternoon saw her, offered her a ride, and something to cover up. She refused and kept on walking.”
Yael Maliach Shimoni, daughter of one of the massacre victims, thanked Hadassah for a package of dolls she remembers receiving from the women of Hadassah after she lost her father, Shimon Maliach. “My mother was left with five children. We were so poor. And then suddenly I got a package with beautiful dolls and coloring books. I’m a grandmother today but I will always remember that beautiful gift,” Shimoni said.
One wreath was laid at the stone memorial on the hospital campus by a group of British Christians in apology for the role their countrypersons played in not rescuing the beleaguered doctors, nurses, and patients.
Among others wreaths laid were by HMO nurses and the Egged bus company, then called Hamikasher, which lost drivers in the convoy. Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah Offices in Israel, and Barbara Sofer, Israel Director of Public Relations placed the HWZOA wreath.
May the memories of our Hadassah family members who have given their lives out of dedication to heal the sick always live on.