One house, One Rabbi and His followers, Police, SWAT, and an Armed Siege
We know, it sounds like a plot of a Hollywood movie, but this was a real event that took place right here in Israel, in 1994. This is the story of the Uzi Meshulam Affair.
Uzi Meshulam was a rabbi of Yemenite descent, who was born in Petah Tikva in 1952. In the late 1970s, after teaching for several years, Meshulam began giving talks about the Yemenite Children Affair. And that's when things began taking a serious turn.
The Yemenite Children Affair is a very controversial incident that occurred in the first few years of the state, where hundreds of new Olim's babies, mostly Yemenite babies, disappeared. The parents were told that the kids died and were buried, but the parents believe to this day that the babies were taken from them. Over the years, nurses and doctors admitted they believe the babies were secretly taken. There are many theories on what happened to the babies, from being given away for adoption in Israel and abroad, to being used for medical experiments and procedures.
Uzi Meshulam's talks and lessons on the issue gained him popularity, and he acquired himself a following of close believers. On Passover of 1994, his actions began receiving more and more interest from the government. After he spread out flyers comparing the affair to the Nazi actions, things got real. A little too real.
Meshulam and his followers fortified his house with sandbags and rocks, in locked themselves inside with armed weapons. They demanded the government open an official investigation on the Yemenite Children Affair. They stayed inside for weeks, while many police and SWAT forces besieged the house with armed forces and snipers. Sounds crazy, we know, but this is a completely true story.
On May 10th, 1994, at 03:00 in the morning, Meshulam exited the house to negotiate with the Chief of Police. Meshulam was immediately arrested and the forces began breaking into the house. The followers fired from within the house, as a result, the snipers retrieved fire and one of the followers, a 19-year-old soldier, was killed. Eleven of the followers were arrested and sentenced to prison for 15 months to five years. Meshulam himself spent six and a half years in jail.
If you thought this was it, then no, it gets even crazier. Later that year, two of the followers shot a prison guard, his life was miraculously saved. Those two were sentenced to many more years in prison as a result.
While in prison, Meshulam's health took a turn and really deteriorated. He died on June 21st, 2013, at the age of 60.
His actions may have seemed drastic, but they definitely raised the subject of the wrong-doings in the Yemenite Children Affair. In 2018, Gila Gamliel, then the Minister of Social Equality, sent an official request to the President to grant Meshulam a Pardon After Death.