Internment in Egypt

The history of my internment in Egypt during the six-day war

By Beny Melameth
submitted June 24, 2012

On June 5, 1967 in the afternoon 2 officers dressed in plainclothes came to pick us up at the factory, my father, my 17-Year-old brother and I was 19 years old, leaving behind My grandmother, my 16-Year-old sister and my 15-Year-old brother.

They told us not to worry, that it was just formalities and we'd be back in 5 minutes. They took us to bey's police station. Here we were put in a small cell (1 M X 2) there were already 6 TO 7 other people. We stayed there for 3 days, with little or no food, in total darkness, standing most of the time, given the lack of space.

On 8 June, we were transferred to a very large room where there were 150 to 200 people, all Jews. That's where I saw my uncle. The officers took the presences then handcuffed us 2 by 2, and transported to the central station, where a train was waiting for us to take us to Cairo.

At every station or the train stopped there was a crowd of people shouting slogans, spitting on them and throwing stones at us. Arriving at Cairo station, we were crammed into salads and transported to abu zabaal prison, a chance that there was a cordon of policemen who were protecting us, because the crowd would have shredded us all.

We learned later that a minister had made us look like Israeli prisoners of war.

It was dark when the trucks stopped in front of a big iron door. We could see 5 TO 6 Officers and several guards waiting for us with palm branches and sticks. We were literally thrown out of those trucks. We were chained 2 by 2, when we landed, we were beaten with sticks and then crammed into the prison yard, squatting on our heels until the early morning hours.

At every hour the officers were walking and nous with their branches of palms, some of them were running and jumping on our shoulders. People who lost their balance or who had been beaten. At 4 in the morning, the guards set up a table and placed a White Tablecloth. They brought in some big kitchen knives they laid on the table. The noise of the blades was audible. And the officers who shouted at the guards to affiler the knives so they would slit our throats. We even heard an officer ask someone else if he didn't want to slit his own throat. So we all got our prayers.

As soon as he started to make daylight, we were called one by one. They brought in 5 OR 6 Muslim brothers with their hair clippers. We were supposed to undress and put our personal belongings back to the officer, and then we'd go to the lawn mower that they'd be trempaient from time to time in a bucket of oil. Once we shaved, we were getting a wool blanket, an aluminum plate and a prison outfit. We had to put the whole thing on our head and run barefoot and barefoot on the 2th floor where other officers were hammering at us. They were making US 2 TO 3 times the tower of the cells, and then they came back to one of them. In the meantime, the show continued.

When the tour of the rabbi of Alexandria arrived, they crucified him on the gate of the prison entrance. They beat him until he lost consciousness.

Once in the cells they left us without food until the next day. On The 2th floor there were 5 Jewish cells, 3 cellules cells (hostile activities). The first floor was occupied by nearly 700 Muslim brothers. The cell was about 18 meters long by 6 meters wide. The floor was white tiles. There were 70 people per cell. Each of us was entitled to 2 slabs and a half width per 7 in length. That is, 50 cm per 140 cm per person.

When we were sleeping, we were crammed like sardines. The Feet of the opposite person came to your stomach. The Aluminum Dish also served as a pillow. Two to three times a day there were raids, the officers were going back to the cell, so we had to stand guard against the wall and repeat 2 TO 3 times the slogans that the cell leader shouted . " Abat Israeli and American imperialism ", " Vive Abdel Nasser ", " Palestine is arab ", " Arab oil to Arabs " and many others. Meanwhile, the officers were running around the cell and beating people at random.

The First 2 TO 3 months we didn't have soap to wash or spare clothes. Food in the morning was always beans, at noon of crushed beans or lentils, sometimes rice and the night of cheese or fermented molasses. The bread was made from wheat, and it was often used on grains of sand or small stones.

After 3 months we had the first visit of the parents, who brought us small packages containing soap, toothpaste, underwear and canned food. At the beginning there were between 350 and 400 Jews of all ages interned (between 17 and 77 years). After 6 months it remained between 200 and 250 Jews the others had been released. Among them was my brother who ended up in Italy. And it was thanks to a great aunt who lived in Brooklyn who took the steps to take him home. Right now my brother lives in Florida. Some time later, we were transferred to the Torah prison, which was less crowded and more free to move. The cell doors were open and we could walk in the corridors. They also allowed us to go out in the courtyard a few hours a day.

After 2 and a half years, it was my uncle's turn and other people to be released. There were only 90 to 100 Jews in prison, all of Egyptian Nationality.

I was released as well as 7 others on 18 June 1970, after 1108 days of internment. We had handcuffs on the wrists all the way to the airport. They took away the handcuffs when we boarded the plane to Paris. At the airport we were doing a lot of goodbyes to our parents, because we couldn't get close to them.

My Father was released a few days after me, to find my sister and my younger brother in Alexandria. Of all the Jews interned only a dozen chose to remain in Egypt.

At the airport of Paris, there was a representative and a few internees who had arrived before us.

I want to thank the hias and co-Sor for everything they've done for us. I was housed and fed during my six-month stay in Paris, to prepare my immigration papers for Canada. They took care of everything, even from the plane ticket to Montreal.

Sam Nefoussi
Sam Nefoussi I do Remember that day very well & My Father A'H was there for only 1 week...