1949 Menarsha synagogue attack

The Menarsha synagogue attack took place on 5 August 1949 in the Jewish quarter of Damascus, Syria.[1] The grenade attack claimed the lives of 12 civilians and injured about 30. Most of the victims were children.

1949 Menarsha synagogue attack
Native nameטבח בית הכנסת אלמנשה בדמשק
LocationDamascus, Syria
Date5 August 1949; 74 years ago (1949-08-05)
WeaponsHand grenades
Deaths12 civilians (including 8 children)
Injured≈ 30 civilians



The security situation of the Syrian Jewish community deteriorated in the late 1930s, during a period of increased Arab nationalism, pressure for independence from the French Empire leading to Syrian independence in 1946, following World War II. Anti-Western and Arab nationalist fervour took on an increasingly anti-Jewish tone.[2][3] Before and after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jews in Syria faced greater discrimination as the government adopted anti-Jewish measures.[4] During this period, Jews and their property became the target of numerous attacks, including the Aleppo pogrom in 1947.



On Friday night, 5 August 1949, several hand grenades were thrown into the Menarsha Synagogue in Damascus that killed 12 Jews, 8 of them children, and injured about 30. The attack occurred at the time of the Lausanne Conference, when Syria and other frontline Arab states were conducting armistice talks with Israel at Lausanne, Switzerland. The armistice agreement between Israel and Syria had been signed on 20 July 1949.[1][5] A simultaneous attack was also carried out at the Great Synagogue in Aleppo.[6]



Official condolences


Syrian President Husni al-Za'im sent his personal representative to visit the carnage area and ordered a legal probe into it.[7]



The police attributed the attack to an underground movement calling itself Arab Redemption Suicide Phalange,[8] and held numerous suspects. On 9 August, a seventeen-year-old Syrian veteran of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War confessed that he and two friends were behind the attack.[7] President al-Za'im ordered the execution of the accused, but a few days later the coup of Colonel Sami al-Hinnawi took place and al-Za'im was executed.[9] In 1950, the suspects of the attack were acquitted due to lack of evidence.[10]


  1. ^ a b ""synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Damascus. The explosion occurred at the time when Syria was" - Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  2. ^ Walter P. Zenner. A global community: the Jews from Aleppo, Syria, Wayne State University Press, 2000. pg. 82. ISBN 0-8143-2791-5.
  3. ^ Michael R. Fischbach. Jewish property claims against Arab countries, Columbia University Press, 2008. pg. 30. ISBN 0-231-13538-6.
  4. ^ James A. Paul. Human rights in Syria, Middle East Watch. pg. 92.
  5. ^ Yazīd Ṣāyigh. Armed struggle and the search for state: the Palestinian national movement, 1949-1993, Oxford University Press US, 1997. pg. 72. ISBN 0-19-829265-1.
  6. ^ Itamar Leṿin. Locked Doors: The Seizure of Jewish Property in Arab Countries, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. pg. 175. ISBN 0-275-97134-1.
  7. ^ a b Joseph B. Schechtman. On wings of eagles: the plight, exodus, and homecoming of oriental Jewry, T. Yoseloff, 1961. pg. 163.
  8. ^ Sami M. Moubayed. Damascus between democracy and dictatorship, University Press of America, 2007. pg. 70-71. ISBN 0-7618-1744-1.
  9. ^ G. N. Giladi. Discord in Zion: conflict between Ashkenazi & Sephardi Jews in Israel Scorpion Publishing, 1990. pg. 89. ISBN 0-905906-87-X.
  10. ^ The Jewish Agency's digest of press and events, Volume 3, Jewish Agency for Israel, 1950. pg. 1,080. [University of California, February 1, 2010.]