All Jewish males were paraded or interned as 'Israeli PoWs' following Israel's victory in the Six-Day War. Rami Mangoubi's brother Sami was taken away to the police station for 'ten minutes'. It would be a lot longer than that. Story from 2007 in the Jerusalem Post:
Rami Mangoubi: mouth shut
During the first three days of the Six Day War, the Egyptian media
claimed victory, and Egyptians did not know their army was crushed.
Everyone was certain troops were at the doors of Tel Aviv. Rumors spread
that thousands of Israeli prisoners were being shipped to Cairo by
train to be paraded for all to see in Ramses Square, where the train
station is located.
The authorities had trouble satisfying this demand,
as Egypt had caught no more than a handful of Israeli POWs. But a
solution was found.
On the first day of the war, at a quarter to five sharp, we heard a
knock at the door. We opened. Two policemen in civilian clothes wanted
my brother Sami for 10 minutes at the station.
He followed them.
Two minutes later, Zeinab, the custodian's wife, knocked at the door.
Shaken and with tears in her eyes she asked: "Why did they take him?"
Still in shock, we just repeated what we heard: "He will be back in ten
A minute later, our neighbor Set Olfat, who saw from her window my
brother taken away in a police truck, arrived. As my mother welcomed
her, the slightly obese woman headed quickly toward my father and asked:
"Why did they take him, Mr. Sabet?" The custodian, Am Taher, also came,
and told my parents that they should not leave the house; he would run
all errands for us. Set Olfat confirmed the warning, assuring us her
maid would get us what we needed.
All evening my mother would look at the clock. "It will not be 10
minutes", my father said. My brother did not come the next day, nor the
day after, nor by the end of the week on Friday, June 9, when a
cease-fire was declared.
That Friday, we asked the custodian to accompany us to Abla Fawzeya's
house. She had been the Muslim Arabic language teacher at the Oeuvre de
la Goutte de Lait, one of two Jewish schools where my mother was
principal. The schools shut their doors a few years back, but Abla
Fawzeya remained close to my mother. Since I was a third grader, every
two or three Fridays, she would send her daughter, six years older than
me, to take me, and I would spend the whole day with the family.
My parents and I were welcomed to the guest room, and as Abla Fawziya
was wondering why my brother is not with us, my mother cried. Abla
Fawziya stared with her mouth open, speechless. I could see the pain on
her husband's face.
One of the daughters, Lolla, and the maid, Taheya, heard my mother cry
and called on me to join them.
When I did, they asked: "What's going on,
Rami?" I told them: "They came on Monday and took him." I started
crying as Lolla gently put her arms around me, and told Taheya: "Get him
Two days later, we were sitting in our living room, when we suddenly
heard Am Taher's angry voice yell: "Go away, sons of a dog! Whoever was
here you took!"
We understood: the authorities had come again. We were
certain they were here to take the rest of us away.
Thirty seconds later, there was a knock at the door. My father indicated
with his hands to my mother that only he would open it, and with a
stern look, pointing at me with his finger, he said in French: "You!
Don't move!" As I tried to stretch my neck toward my left shoulder and
look through the door to see who was knocking, my mother slapped my
My father walked deliberately to the door and opened it.
I heard from
the living room Zeinab's reassuring voice: "They went away." Am Taher
told us three men from the police inquired about my father, but he
pretended they were asking for my brother and told them he had already
been taken away. Thanks to Am Taher, my father was spared arrest.
It took a month until we learned of my brother's whereabouts.
authorities arrested nearly all Jewish males between the ages of 17 and
60. Those who held foreign citizenship were taken to Alexandria and
thrown on a boat, to be disgorged somewhere in southern Europe. They
were the fortunate ones.
The others, Egyptians and stateless (Jews as a rule were denied
citizenship), were taken to the notorious detention camps of Abu Zabaal,
On the third day of the war, as a substitute for Israeli
POWs, the authorities decided to parade instead the Jews from
Alexandria, who were taken by train to Abu Zabaal by way of Cairo. The
spectacle took place in Ramses Square in front of local mobs, who abused
the Jews as they were thrown into open trucks.
A Christian friend of my mother, Ang le, lived near the station, and saw
the spectacle. She only told me a year later how young and old were
throwing stones at the men in the trucks, while shouting "Yahud."
The community was almost entirely without young men. The burden fell on
women. Women protected their children. They ran from one government
office to the next. Women managed family businesses. They watched
helplessly as their husband's partners cheated on them, and they sold to
customers who bought without paying.
They had to keep their mouths
shut, as customers and partners routinely threatened to report about
relatives in Israel. Many lost their livelihood and, pauperized, relied
on the Jewish community for help.
One afternoon, two months later, there was again a knock on the door. It
was my aunt and four cousins. Seeing their luggage, I understood
immediately how fortunate we were. Their neighbors were not nice like
ours. Far from protecting them, they harassed them and forced them to
We were so fortunate. Abla Fawziya's family literally adopted us, and
visited ever more frequently. She was also worried about her former
pupils who left Egypt before the war to live in Israel. 'Am Taher,
Zeinab, and Set Olfat, also protected us like we were their children.
In Abu Zabaal, many detainees were tortured and some, the younger and
fair-skinned ones, were sexually molested. Young and old were forced to
run daily round and round a small yard, like dogs, and behind them,
soldiers beat them with belts. They were screaming. "Down with Israel.
Down with the Jews and with the Zionists."
My uncle was beaten very badly, and had permanent damage to a nerve in
his arms. For the rest of his life, he would constantly tick with his
Six months later, the Jewish men were transferred from Abu Zabaal to
another camp, Tourah. Those who were stateless were released after two
years and deported. Those with Egyptian citizenship had to endure
another year of incarceration before being released and deported. Freedom was made possible thanks to the intervention of Jewish
Several of those incarcerated cannot to this day cope
with their experience. Two who were sexually molested committed suicide.
On June 15, 1970, my brother was taken from Tourah prison to the airport
at Helipolis. Am Taher was sure what his final destination would be. On
the eve of the departure, I heard him say: "He will go live with the
Jews in their country, in Israel"; he was right.
Zeinab wanted so badly to come for a last look at my brother, but my
father feared she would get in trouble if she was seen with us at the
airport. He explained to her: "He is thrown out, Zeinab." She cried once
It was my first visit to an airport. As I watched the Air France Boeing
727 take off, I looked at the black quadrant of my new watch. My mother
bought it a week before for the occasion and let me wear it for the
first time on that day. It was 10:43 a.m.
The 10 minutes were over: They had lasted three years, nine days, 17
hours and 58 minutes.
Read article in full
List of internees (HSJE)
Marc Kheder's story