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1974 Ma’alot Massacre – My search for the brother and sister in the iconic photo

1974 Ma’alot Massacre – My search for the brother and sister in the iconic photo

A search halted when my trip was cut short – perhaps to be fulfilled next year?

As Legal Insurrection readers know, my recent trip to Israel was intended to give me a chance to meet and help document the stories of the victims of the recent so-called Knife or Stabbing Intifada, such as the family of Yaakov Don.

Because my trip was cut short from two weeks to three days due to a family health emergency, I didn’t get to meet any of the victims or their families.

I also intended to document the victims of past terrorism, as I did in 2015 when I met with a survivor of the 1971 rocket attack on a school bus at Moshav Avivim, and the families of Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner, killed in the 1969 supermarket bombing masterminded by Rasmea Odeh.

In particular, I planned on focusing on the Ma’alot Massacre, the May 1974 takeover of a school in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot by Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated from Lebanon. Of the over 100 hostages, 25 were killed including 22 students.

A 2014 Times of Israel article has extensive information on the event, the terrorists and the victims.

Ma’alot as a word alone sends chills down my spine because I was 15 at the time, about the same age as many of the school students killed. I remember it much as I remember the 1972 Olympics massacre and the Lod Airport massacre.

This famous photo came to epitomize terror against Israel:

Ma'alot Massacre - Galil Maimon carrying his sister Tzippi after the massacre at Ma’alot

[Galil Maimon carrying his sister Tzippi to safety during Ma’alot Massacre]

Needless to say, the funeral was emotional

Most of the Victims were on a school trip from the nearby city of Safed:

Ilana Turgeman 15 of Safed
Zvia Mor-Yoseph 15 of Safed
Rachel Aputa 16 of Safed
Yocheved Mazoz 15 of Safed
Sarah Ben-Shim’on 15 of Safed
Yona Sabag 15 of Safed
Yafa Cohen 17 of Safed
Shoshana Cohen 17 of Safed
Michal Sitrok 16 of Safed
Malka Amrosy 15 of Safed
Aviva Saada 15 of Moshav Eliflet
Yocheved Deri of Safed
Yakov Levi 17 of Safed
Yakov Kabla 17 of Safed
Rina Cohen 15 of Safed
Ilana Ne’eman 17 of Safed
Sarah Madar 15 of Safed
Tamar Dahan 16 of Safed
Sarah Sofer 15 of Safed
Lilly Morad 16 of Hatzor HaGalil
David Madar 17 of Safed
Yehudit Madar 16 of Safed
Sylvan Zerach,27 of Ma’alot
Fortuna Cohen, 38 (eight months pregnant) of Ma’alot
Yosef Cohen, 45 of Ma’alot
Eliahu Cohen, 4, of Ma’alot
Hasibah Shalala 27,of Fassuta[

Recently, a heartbreaking letter from one of the victims surfaced, 42 Years After Ma’alot Massacre: Letter of 15-Year Old Written Hours Before She Was Murdered

Only now shared is a letter of one courageous girl, Ilana Ne’eman, who wrote a letter to her family, just hours before she was killed. Ilana was only 15 1/2-years old, when she was killed in the Ma’a lot Massacre.

Below is the emotional letter of a girl’s last words:

Dear Mom and Dad, hello!

The time is now 11:00 am. I do not know how many hours I have left to live, so I’m writing to you.

I’m sorry, Mom, that I didn’t listen to you and I went on the trip. Yeah, I know you didn’t force me to stay, but you were concerned, and preferred that I not go. But I went. Because I knew my job.

I wanted to say thank you for the education you gave me and the amazing years I had- all thanks to you!

Now I’m 15 and a half and if I have to die, I will die quietly with dignity and faith, yes faith, that you gave to me. You told me that life without faith is always trivial and much more painful, and now in these difficult times I have a lot of faith. And faith that you are right.

Life gives a person a lot, and though I didn’t have a choice in almost anything, not when and where to be born, and who to be born to, but I had a good life… I was a religious kid, in Israel, with wonderful parents – with you.

Large hours – I haven’t had, that I did not merit to get and probably will not merit, but thanks to you I passed the test of honor at small and dark hours, regular daily hours.

Mom, do not cry a lot when I die. When Rivka has her baby, name it after me- Ilan or Ilana, and raise him like me to be strong, and make sure he knows what his goal in life and why he was born.

I know that you’ve had a hard life before and after I was born, and when I die it will be even more difficult, but always remember that hardships will bring hours of joy and satisfaction.

I am not crying, my eyes are dry, it won’t hurt when I die, I’m not sorry, and when I say “Shema Israel” at my last hour, I will think about you.

I had to make the trip, we should not stop living life- the danger lies everywhere and if we have been decreed in heaven, it will always happen. If we hide in shelters, our danger is greater. It is better to live moral life and die for Kidush Hashem!

This letter will be my last world. Please show all members of the family this letter send them with great love regards from me. To all my friends and neighbors send them success! This is my last chance for in an hour I will leave you.

Goodbye Forever.

Lovingly, your daughter – Ilana

Israel retaliated, the BBC reported:

Israeli planes have bombed seven Palestinian refugee camps and villages in southern Lebanon killing at least 27 people and leaving 138 injured.

The attack was in retaliation for yesterday’s hostage crisis at a school in Ma’alot near the Lebanon border in which 18 teenagers were killed and 70 were wounded.

Worst hit by the Israeli fighter-bombers were the crowded refugee camps of Ein El Helweh near the city of Sidon and Nabatieh.

An official announcement from the Israeli Defence Force said the planes had been aiming at offices and training bases used by the Popular Democratic Front, led by Nayef Hawatmeh, and the Popular Front under Ahmed Jibril.

The PDF was behind the killing of the schoolchildren at Ma’a lot – and the Popular Front planned the shooting of 16 civilians in Kiryat Shemona on 10 April.

Palestinian Authority TV has continued to glorify the attack (February 29, 2012):

Last week, official Palestinian Authority TV repeatedly broadcast video tributes to terrorists from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The tributes included glorification of the terrorist “Martyrs,” as well as their many terror attacks, in which dozens of Israeli civilians were murdered. Palestinian Media Watch reported last year that PA TV ran similar videos honoring DFLP terrorists.

PA TV glorified the Ma’alot massacre in which school children were taken hostage. 22 of them were murdered along with four adults. A poster honoring the three DFLP terrorists was shown during the video tributes (see right), in addition to posters glorifying dozens of other terrorists and their murders of civilians.

The PA TV tributes were in honor of the anniversary of the founding of the DFLP and were broadcast more than 10 times last week.

A collage labeled “Heroes of the special operations in northern Palestine” showed 16 photographs of DFLP terrorists posing with weapons and some dressed in military uniforms. The term “operations in northern Palestine” is a euphemism for ‘terror attacks in northern Israel,’ which originated in Lebanon.

[Poster glorifying terrorists of the Ma’alot massacre in 1974]

I planned to visit the school in Ma’alot, and the memorial in Safed.

But more important, I wanted to find out what happened to the brother and sister in that iconic photo.

My excellent Israeli guides Udi and Keppy Guberman, who helped me so much in 2015, began the process of searching for them.

This photo was found:

Ma'alot Massacre - Galil Maimon and his sister Tzippi now

[Tzippi and Galil Maimon]

Along with this more recent photo of Tzippi (pictured with her son, who at the time of the photo was in the IDF):

I don’t know if we would have found them. It’s a void in my trip that hopefully someday will be filled.

Maybe next year?


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If it’s next year, there’s only one place it will have to be.

That letter from Ilana was the bravest piece of writing I’ve ever read It brought a tear to my eye. Professor I’ve been a long time reader but I never have commented before but that letter was awe inspiring the way you weave a picture of tragedy but find rays of hope when reporting is why your the best blog around.

JackRussellTerrierist | June 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

The letter…….what is there to say?

Perhaps if I live to be 1,000 I will come to understand the deeply-rooted and widely-spread hatred of Israel and Jews. Perhaps it’s because I’m a western Catholic that I don’t understand. I just don’t, but I wish someone would explain to me why it is so many people in the world feel that way. None of the small number of Jewish people I know seem to care about it, which I also don’t understand.

None of the haters ever articulate any rational explanation for their hatred, other than a few conspiracy theories I’ve read or heard. Now the terror groups spawned by this hatred are enemies of the entire world. Nobody is safe anywhere, and there is no peace. They are evil savages and should be bombed to oblivion once and for all.

Professor, your ongoing documentation does an important service.

    Well said, my friend.

    I often contrast the empty and false use of the word “hate” in many domestic political arguments with the vile and destructive “hate” that Arabs, Persians and Muslims have for the Jew.

    There is simply no comparison whatsoever.

The letter and poster together definitely show the contrast between a civilization based on faith and one based on savagery. Only someone with no morals at all could equate the two.

You should have included the fact that Mahmoud Abbas planned the attack.
The so-called “moderate”.
Israellycool had this some time back

Worth looking back to see how many times, with their taqyya they fooled those wanting to be fooled.