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Paratroopers at the Temple Mount
Tears at the Western Wall, tanks in the Old City: New images of Jerusalem liberation
Fifty years after the Six-Day War, the IDF Archive releases pictures taken during and after the battles, as well as segments from the Central Command chief’s journal and aerial shots of the battle zones before the war.
Fifty years after the Six-Day War and the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem, the IDF Archive in the Defense Ministry has released the investigations of the battles for the city’s liberation and photos taken after the battles, as well as aerial shots of the battle zones before the war broke out.

 

 

The photos show excited soldiers at the Old City, with then-Chief Military Rabbi Shlomo Goren walking among them with tefillin his hand and head and with a shofar. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and other senior officials from the period were also documented in the photos. The great excitement was evident on their faces. In one of the pictures, the fighters are seen resting near the Western Wall stones.

 

Paratroopers sing Israel’s national anthem at the Western Wall. Major-General Uzi Narkiss, the Central Command chief, is seen third from the left
Paratroopers sing Israel’s national anthem at the Western Wall. Major-General Uzi Narkiss, the Central Command chief, is seen third from the left

 

Colonel Mordechai (Motta) Gur, commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade in the fighting in Jerusalem. The paratroopers’ headquarters was at the Rockefeller Museum
Colonel Mordechai (Motta) Gur, commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade in the fighting in Jerusalem. The paratroopers’ headquarters was at the Rockefeller Museum

 

Colonel Uri Ben Ari, commander of the Harel Brigade, briefs his officers at the Central Command in the battle for the entrances to Jerusalem from the north
Colonel Uri Ben Ari, commander of the Harel Brigade, briefs his officers at the Central Command in the battle for the entrances to Jerusalem from the north

 

The Western Wall and Temple Mount. From left to right: Colonel Mordechai (Motta) Gur, commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade, Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Haim Bar-Lev and Colonel Shlomo Lahat
The Western Wall and Temple Mount. From left to right: Colonel Mordechai (Motta) Gur, commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade, Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Haim Bar-Lev and Colonel Shlomo Lahat

 

Two soldiers observing the Temple Mount
Two soldiers observing the Temple Mount

 

Troops carrying a wounded soldier on a stretcher. A force from the 55th Paratroopers Brigade prepares for fighting in the Old City, while evacuating the wounded
Troops carrying a wounded soldier on a stretcher. A force from the 55th Paratroopers Brigade prepares for fighting in the Old City, while evacuating the wounded

 

Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Central Command chief Uzi Narkiss, Colonel Avraham Tamir and Major-General Rehavam Ze’evi arrive at the Old City of Jerusalem
Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Central Command chief Uzi Narkiss, Colonel Avraham Tamir and Major-General Rehavam Ze’evi arrive at the Old City of Jerusalem

 

Tanks make their way to conquer the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, backed by forces on trucks
Tanks make their way to conquer the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, backed by forces on trucks

 

The ‘Bell Post’ in the Ramat Rachel area southeast of Jerusalem,’ where Jerusalem Brigade fighters were killed on June 5, 1967
The ‘Bell Post’ in the Ramat Rachel area southeast of Jerusalem,’ where Jerusalem Brigade fighters were killed on June 5, 1967

 

Rabbi Goren blows the shofar in the presence of soldiers near the Western Wall
Rabbi Goren blows the shofar in the presence of soldiers near the Western Wall

 

The Six-Day War. A paratroopers’ force moves in Jerusalem from the Rockefeller Museum on the At-Tur mountain range overlooking Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount
The Six-Day War. A paratroopers’ force moves in Jerusalem from the Rockefeller Museum on the At-Tur mountain range overlooking Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount

 

Soldiers training before the war in Jerusalem (photo courtesy of the IDF Archive in the Defense Ministry)
Soldiers training before the war in Jerusalem (photo courtesy of the IDF Archive in the Defense Ministry)

 

The Western Wall and Temple Mount. Chief Military Rabbi blows the shofar. On the left: Colonel Avraham (Avrasha Tamir), head of planning at the General Staff (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
The Western Wall and Temple Mount. Chief Military Rabbi blows the shofar. On the left: Colonel Avraham (Avrasha Tamir), head of planning at the General Staff (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

Rabin, Dayan, Narkiss and Ze’evi arrive at the Western Wall (Photo: Photo: Bamahane photographers)
Rabin, Dayan, Narkiss and Ze’evi arrive at the Western Wall (Photo: Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

Paratroopers at the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
Paratroopers at the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

The released documents include segments from the journal of Uzi Narkiss, who served as Central Command chief during the war. On the first day of the war, shortly before 9 am, Narkiss said to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek: “This is a war. Everything is in order. You will be the mayor of united Jerusalem. We are experiencing immense success.”

 

The Paratroopers’ Brigade headquarters settled at the Rockefeller Museum before the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. Chief Military Rabbi Shlomo Goren and the 55th Paratroopers Brigade commander Motta Gur are seen sitting with the soldiers (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
The Paratroopers’ Brigade headquarters settled at the Rockefeller Museum before the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. Chief Military Rabbi Shlomo Goren and the 55th Paratroopers Brigade commander Motta Gur are seen sitting with the soldiers (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

At the end of the first day of battle, Narkiss told Rabbi Goren: “Prepare a shofar. You are about to make history. What is happening in the south is nothing. The most important thing is the Old City and the Temple Mount.” He asked one of the officers to “inform the General Staff that if the Western Wall isn’t conquered, it will be my fault.”

 

Rabbi Goren prays with paratroopers near the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
Rabbi Goren prays with paratroopers near the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

On the morning of the third day of the war, Narkiss spoke to Deputy Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev, who said: “We must enter the Old City, but sensibly. There is already pressure for a ceasefire. We are already in the canal. The Egyptians are disconnected. We don’t want to create a situation of the Old City as an enclave, like Mount Scopus. Motta Gur’s operation is vital. The question is how and when you will take the Old City. With the least amount of fire, not through bombings.”

 

Rabbi Goren with paratroopers at the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
Rabbi Goren with paratroopers at the Western Wall (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

In the meantime, news arrived that the Jordanian army had collapsed and that “Victoria Augusta is in our hands.” At 9:10 am, forces left the Efraim Post and headed towards the Old City. At 10 am, according to Narkiss’ diary, a green smoke grenade was thrown to ease the soldiers’ passage down to Lions’ Gate. Shortly afterwards, Gur announced: “The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

 

The Western Wall and Temple Mount. Cleaning and preparing weapons to continue the fighting. A reserve force of the 55th Regiment’s reconnaissance troop
The Western Wall and Temple Mount. Cleaning and preparing weapons to continue the fighting. A reserve force of the 55th Regiment’s reconnaissance troop

 

Shlomo Lahat (in a combat-armored coverall), Haim Bar-Lev and Motta Gur
Shlomo Lahat (in a combat-armored coverall), Haim Bar-Lev and Motta Gur

 

Rabbi Goren and Major-General Bar-Lev at the Western Wall
Rabbi Goren and Major-General Bar-Lev at the Western Wall

 

Super Sherman M-50 tanks make their way to conquer the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, backed by forces on trucks
Super Sherman M-50 tanks make their way to conquer the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, backed by forces on trucks

 

Ze’evi, Rabin, Dayan and journalists march towards the Western Wall
Ze’evi, Rabin, Dayan and journalists march towards the Western Wall

 

About an hour later, an order was received to let the Old City’s Arabs leave the city through Lions’ Gate. Chief of Staff Rabin issued a simultaneous order to open all the Old City gates, and Defense Minister Dayan placed a note in the Western Wall, in which he wrote: “May peace descend upon all of Israel.”

 

Fighters patrol and clear building in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter
Fighters patrol and clear building in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter

 

It was already then that Rabin asked, “How will we hold onto a million Arabs?” Major-General Rehavam Ze’evi (Gandhi) corrected him: “1.25 million.”

 

A monument for fighters of the Paratroopers’ 28th Regiment (Alex Agor, Bamahane)
A monument for fighters of the Paratroopers’ 28th Regiment (Alex Agor, Bamahane)

 

Hours after the Old City’s liberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol began discussing the Temple Mount control issue. “Order will be kept by Muslims, according to the qadis.”

 

Paratroopers during battle against the background of the Mount of Olives (Photo: Bamahane photographers)
Paratroopers during battle against the background of the Mount of Olives (Photo: Bamahane photographers)

 

The documents further include comments by Mordechai (Motta Gur), who served as commander of the Paratroopers’ 55th Brigade during the war, about two months after the end of the battles on the front in Jerusalem. He said that on the night before the Old City’s liberation, the forces were forbidden to enter the area. At 4:30 am, he received a call from Narkiss, who ordered him to move up the operation and gave him permission to enter the Old City. Narkiss went on to say in the same conversation, which included other officers who participated in the city’s liberation, that “there was a General Staff order on the first day not to dare enter the Old City. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t planned.”

 

Latrun (Photo: IDF Archive)
Latrun (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Givat Hamivtar (Photo: IDF Archive)
Givat Hamivtar (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Al-Nabi Samuil (Photo: IDF Archive)
Al-Nabi Samuil (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Bir Naballah (Photo: IDF Archive)
Bir Naballah (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

French Hill (Photo: IDF Archive)
French Hill (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Police academy, Givat Hamivtar (Photo: IDF Archive)
Police academy, Givat Hamivtar (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Qalandiya (Photo: IDF Archive)
Qalandiya (Photo: IDF Archive)

  

Jaba’ (Photo: IDF Archive)
Jaba’ (Photo: IDF Archive)

  

Ramallah Police (Photo: IDF Archive)
Ramallah Police (Photo: IDF Archive)

 

Another released testimony was from the Mount Scopus commander—or as he was known, “King of the Mountain.” During the war, the “king of the mountain” was Menachem Sharfman, the legendary commander of the Matzof 247 covert unit. He spoke about the waiting period: “I remember one episode, when Moshe Dayan was appointed defense minister. It uplifted the spirits in an unbelievable way, and one of the squad commanders ran over to me and said, ‘We won the war.’”

 

Sharfman, who commanded the Mount Scopus enclave in the heart of the Jordanian territory, said that on the morning of June 5, after he had sprained his ankle in the night, the intelligence commander came running and informed him that the Jordanians were firing. “We went into the posts,” the commander of the mount recounted. “It was at 7:55 am. We saw that the Jordanians entered posts which had not been occupied before. Everyone was wearing steel helmets.”

 

On the first day of the war, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and other senior officers arrived at Mount Scopus on a half-track. The mountain’s commander spoke about his conversation with Dayan and about the lunch they had together. “When they said that we were taking Jerusalem, the spirits were uplifted, because there was constant shelling and we fired back. I asked for permission to go down with recoilless gun from the other side and didn’t get any approval. I asked to come out of the mountain, but I was not allowed to.”

 

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