Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attended a ceremony Thursday evening commemorating the 39th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, just hours after returning from his trip to Washington.
"Jerusalem has remained Jewish throughout its existence, and today more than ever," Olmert addressed his audience. "It is Jewish, inclusive, and united. Visions of peace emerged from it in ancient times and we aspire that soon, hopes for peace for us and our neighbors will emerge."
Prime Minister Olmert at Ammunition Hill ceremony (Photo: Haim Tsach)
"An eternal covenant exists between the people of Israel and Jerusalem. It will remain uniquely ours. We will guard the holy places and allow freedom of religion. It has never been so open and lively," said Olmert in his speech.
Olmert recounted in his speech the battle that took place to conquer east Jerusalem: "Throughout Israel's 58 years of independence there is one moment unmatched by any other. There has never been one like it throughout Jewish history and never will be. That same moment the call was heard – 'Temple Mount is ours'. That call surged from the depths. From within the deepest layers, the tears and prayers of the people who finally returned home. There has never been, and never will be another home for the Jewish people."
"'We returned to our holiest of places to never be separated again,' Moshe Dayan said, which words represented the yearning of an entire nation. The battle on Ammunition Hill took place on the first day of the war. Commanders decided not to wait for an aerial support and to go forward, attack, and defeat the enemy at the gates," continued Olmert, not forgetting to mention Ariel Sharon who paved the way of the paratroopers.
"Ammunition Hill became a shining example for bravery in the history of Israel and Jerusalem and its fighters became legends. The barren grounds of the hills were planted with Jerusalem's pines, their roots nursing on blood absorbed in the ground. Neighborhoods full of life were built all around. We will remember the troops who reclaimed Jerusalem – we are here because of them. We view their image."
Many dignitaries attended the ceremony, among them President Moshe Katzav, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itizik, Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski, Chief of Police Moshe Karadi and Deputy President of the Supreme Court.
Sources at the Jerusalem municipality said about 600,000 participated in many events to commemorate Jerusalem Day. The mayor, Uri Lupolianski, hosted thousands of people in the traditional reception at Tower of David museum.
This year's participants were treated for the first time to a special laser show held at the Armon Hanatziv promenade, visible from all over the city. The laser show featured symbols and inscriptions related to the city and Jerusalem Day with over 100,000 spectators, while tourist attraction overflowed with visitors.