Uzi Meshulam

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Uzi Meshulam (Hebrew: עוזי משולם‎‎; October 30, 1952 - June 21, 2013) was a Rabbi from Yehud who in 1994 was the leader of a radical group of Yemenite Jews who violently resisted Israeli law enforcement authorities.

Biography[edit]

At the end of the 1970s Meshulam taught Torah in a religious school and many students gathered around him.

Meshulam became widely known in the affair which began on Passover in 1994. During that time Meshulam distributed pamphlets which described the alleged kidnappings of Jewish Yemenite children and stated that around 4,500 children of Jewish Yemenite immigrants were taken from their parents by the Israeli authorities and allegedly given to rich Ashkenazi Jews inside Israel and abroad during the late 1940s and early 1950s while the Yemenite immigrants were falsely told that their babies died from illness or malnutrition.[1] After a local conflict between Meshulam and a sewer contractor escalated, police forces intervened, and in the stir of the emotions Meshulam and his followers raised the demand to set up a commission of inquiry for the disappearance of the Yemenite children during the first years of the State of Israel.

Meshulam's followers barricaded his home with sandbags and stones, while they were arming themselves with a lot of weapons. As a result, a big amount of police forces, snipers and a Special Patrol Unit surrounded Meshulam's house for weeks and on May 10, at 3:00 AM, Meshulam left his followers in his home in order to conduct a meeting with the Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz. At this point the police forces broke into the house and 11 followers were arrested. One of them, 19-year-old Shlomi Assouline, was killed by the police during the raid.[2][3]

Meshulam's followers were accused of a number of offenses: conspiracy to commit a crime, Obstructing justice, an attempt to injury with serious intent, threats, deliberate risk of human lives, and manufacturing illegal weapons. As a result Meshulam's followers were sentenced to prison terms of between 15 months to five years. Meshulam himself was convicted of providing instruction to throw Molotov cocktails at police forces and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to 8 years but was eventually cleared of one of the offenses and as a result his sentence was reduced to six and a half years,[4] from which he did five years in practice after the president Ezer Weizman deducted seven months of his sentence.

In October 1994 a warden at Meshulam's prison was shot by two of Meshulam's followers, but he survived eventually the attack. The attackers were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.

Following the events in January 1995 the Cohen Commission was established, which was headed by a former Supreme Court justice Yehuda Cohen. The Cohen Commission investigated for nearly 7 years the disappearance cases of the Yemenite immigrants' children between in 1948 - 1954. The Committee's report provided explanations for many of the cases of disappearances, but found no evidence of a conspiracy in the matter, although 56 cases are still considered open cases.[5]

In January 1996 Meshulam was transferred to the Shata prison. Shortly after his health worsened and he was hospitalized. His followers continued to protest and call for his release, though the public protests eventually diminished.

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