A photo credit was missing and a source credit was incorrect in a Hebron mosque massacre graphic Saturday. The photograph should have been credited to Manouq Photographe, and the source was the Aga Khan Program, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. (Published 3/2/94)

HEBRON, WEST BANK, FEB. 25 -- A Jewish settler opened fire on Arab worshipers in a crowded mosque here at dawn today, triggering the bloodiest day in the history of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and jolting the still-incomplete peace process aimed at establishing Palestinian self-government.

Following a day of bloodshed and fury in which Palestinians rioted and clashed with Israeli soldiers throughout the occupied territories, authorities said at least 53 persons had been killed and hundreds wounded. Among them were more than 40 who died when Baruch Goldstein, a physician in his late thirties who had immigrated from New York, opened fire with an assault rifle in the mosque of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians.

In the aftermath, Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization and President Clinton struggled to salvage the peace process that began after the historic Israeli-Palestinian accord was signed last September at the White House. Clinton said both the Palestinians and Israelis had agreed to come to Washington for nonstop negotiations. {Details on Page A20.}

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin vowed that the "crazed actions" of the settler "will not prevent the reconciliation" between Israel and the Palestinians. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat called for international protection for the Palestinians.

In addition to the estimated 40 killed inside the mosque, another six Palestinians died in clashes with the army outside Hebron's main hospital, and five more were reported shot dead elsewhere. Two Jews also died, the gunman and an elderly retired New York policeman who was stabbed near Tel Aviv.

It was the bloodiest single day in the occupied territories since the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, and it served as a grim reminder of the potential for violence between Jewish settlers and Arabs just as Israel and the Palestinians have decided to begin a separation of the two populations.

Dressed in the olive green uniform of an Israeli soldier, Goldstein, an army reserve captain and follower of militant Jewish nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, slipped into the Tomb of the Patriarchs without attracting the attention of the small contingent of Israeli guards usually on duty there. Goldstein then opened fire on several hundred Muslims as they kneeled to touch the ground in Friday prayers.

He fired dozens of bullets from his Galil assault rifle and reloaded at least three magazines of about 30 bullets each, according to police. Witnesses said they heard grenades exploding as well. Panicked and blood-soaked Palestinians rushed to flee and help evacuate the wounded. According to the witnesses, Israeli army troops failed to arrive until after Goldstein had been clubbed to death with iron bars by furious worshipers. More than 170 were wounded.

Ambulances first took the dead and injured to Hebron's two hospitals, which were quickly overwhelmed. Dozens of patients were then driven to Jerusalem, 20 miles away. Thousands of Palestinians surged into the hospitals seeking word about family members.

Across the West Bank and Gaza, word of the attack unleashed stone-throwing assaults on Israeli soldiers and civilians. Riots broke out on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, scene of a 1990 massacre of Palestinians. Youths rained stones on the area of the Western Wall where Jews worship. The Jews were evacuated, and police waged a four-hour battle with tear gas against the youths before the area fell quiet.

Israeli police, bracing for days of unrest, canceled all leaves. The army rushed additional troops to Jerusalem and the territories.

After an emergency meeting in Tel Aviv, Rabin's cabinet ministers said a decision had been made to seal off the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba outside Hebron, a bastion of militant settlers where Goldstein had lived.

The government said it would pay compensation to the families of the victims. Officials said there was discussion of a crackdown on militant settlers, including the followers of Kahane's extremist Kach movement, in which Goldstein had been active.

The attack prompted demands from Palestinians for disarming the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, many of whom have been given weapons by the Israeli army. "It is necessary to disarm all the settlers immediately," said Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank.

Rabin telephoned Arafat to express regret. "As an Israeli, I am ashamed of this deed," he said, according to Israeli officials. Rabin told a news conference that Israel "severely condemns this terrible murder of innocent people." He pledged that Israel would "do everything necessary to advance the peace talks."

But it was clear that the massacre had rattled, if not shattered, the fragile mood of the negotiations on implementing the first phase of the peace accord, self-rule in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho. The Israeli pullout from Gaza and Jericho has been delayed for more than two months while the negotiators work out intricate arrangements for protecting Israeli settlers and for transferring civil authority to the Palestinians. The talks were reportedly within a week or two of being concluded.

"It may hurt the peace process," said Israel's ambassador to Washington, Itamar Rabinowitz. "Tensions are high, and the impulses are great. The enemies {of peace} are constantly at work. An incident of this extent creates raw material for acts of revenge."

"We have the impression that a heavy cloud is hanging over the peace talks," said Yair Tsban, the Israeli cabinet minister in charge of immigration.

"What kind of peace are you talking about if the crimes and killings against our people do not stop?" Arafat asked on Radio Monte Carlo.

The massacre prompted many Palestinians to ask whether the deal with Israel was worthwhile, and throughout the day in Hebron jeers and curses were directed at Arafat as well as at the settlers. "What happened today is a big crime on the Palestinian people," said Yousef Abu Munshaur, 20, a driver. "We don't want the peace."

In New York, the U.N. Security Council held a closed meeting to discuss the Hebron massacre but delayed until Saturday afternoon a decision on whether to issue a statement of condemnation or a formal resolution.

The assault came as both Muslims and Jews were celebrating religious holidays. According to witnesses, there had been scuffles in recent days between Muslim and Jewish worshipers as the festive Jewish holiday of Purim approached and Muslims celebrated the fasting month of Ramadan.

But Arab witnesses said all had been quiet as they walked to dawn prayers this morning.

The attack left many unanswered questions. Since the army is supposed to be in control of the site, how did Goldstein, a captain in the reserves, get inside so easily? Although Israeli officials said the troops at the site had a difficult time entering the area because panicked worshippers were struggling to exit, it is not clear why the troops failed to arrive until after the shooting. Israeli officials said there would be an investigation.

It is also not known whether Goldstein acted entirely on his own or had any contact with other members of the militant Kach organization, which has advocated transferring or expelling the Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories.

Environment Minister Yossi Sarid said Israel was considering expelling the Kach activists from the West Bank.

Baruch Goldstein's shooting rampage, which left more than 40 people dead, took place in a site revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Goldstein, a doctor in his mid-thirties who immigrated to Israel from New York, opened fire as Muslims kneeled for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.


1. Goldstein, wearing an Israeli army uniform, enters the east side of the Tomb, walks around Sarah's Tomb and takes up a position behind hundreds of praying Muslims at the Mosque of Ibrahim.

2. Goldstein sprays the crowd with bullets from his Galil assault rifle, which can fire about 30 rounds in less than three seconds. Witnesses said Goldstein reloaded at least three times and opened fire again.

3. An angry mob seizes Goldstein inside the mosque and beats him to death with metal rods, according to Israeli authorities.


The Muslims in the mosque were facing the eastern wall. This file photograph was taken in the approximate position from which Goldstein opened fire.


Profile of weapon Israeli officials say was used in attack:

3 feet, 2.2 inches long

Rate of fire: Up to 10.8 rounds per second

SOURCE: Knight-Ridder Tribune

SOURCES: Washington Post research; Fine Arts LIbrary; "Insight Guides, Israel"; "Baedeker's Israel"; National Geographic Society, "The Cave to Machpelah Guide to Visitors"; "Phaidon Art and Architecture Guide to Israel"; Reuter; Associated Press