Forty years on, Giora Raviv’s killing commemorated
PHOTOGRAPH: ILAN OSSENDRYVER
Raviv died on April 28, 1975, when a mentally unbalanced Jewish South African staff member, David Protter, shot him and took a number of hostages at the Israeli consulate in central Johannesburg.
Lenk said that since Israel’s independence, 16 diplomats had been killed in the line of duty.
Raviv’s widow, Nurit Raviv Dudai, and his two children, son Ori and daughter Ayelet Debby, were brought from Israel for the ceremony by the Israeli foreign ministry.
At the time, Gadi Dror, who was a colleague of Raviv’s, was monitoring the situation outside the building and liaising with General Hendrik van den Bergh, then head of the South African Security Police. The police had surrounded the building.
At one stage, they thought the attack was the work of six Japanese terrorists, an opinion reinforced by the hundreds of shots heard from inside the consulate. Later they found out that Protter had fired all the shots himself, above the heads of the hostages.
The police had also placed explosives around the building and at one stage were contemplating blowing up the entire building.
There was a real fear of a bloodbath, Dror said. The hostages were held for 24 hours and outside they had no idea whether they would live or die; several were wounded.
“Dealing with a super-crazy person was very difficult. At least he did not want to commit suicide and kill all the hostages,” Dror recalled.
In the end all the hostages were released and Dror remained alone with Protter.
Ori Raviv said his father, whom he had never known, was a special person, quiet, modest, an outstanding soldier, who was among the first to enter Jerusalem’s Old City in the Six Day War and was in the first unit to cross the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War.
Ori said in 2013 he met Lenk, who had suggested this commemoration. “It is more than karma,” he said. He had found closure at the ceremony.
Debby stated that she had never found closure. “It has been 40 years of longing.”
Rabbi Gidon Fox of the Pretoria Hebrew Congregation said the family had paid the ultimate price every day for the past 40 years.
We sometimes took the sacrifices for granted, but the trauma was patently evident even 40 years later.
Asher Goldberg, the cantor of the Pretoria Hebrew Congregation, intoned the memorial prayer and Ori Raviv recited kaddish.
The family members lit a memorial flame. At the end of the ceremony they planted a tree and unveiled two plaques in the embassy garden, one in English and the other in Hebrew, in memory of Giora Raviv.