Upon conquering a post office building in Gaza during the Six Day War, the Israeli troops hoisted a makeshift Israeli flag, which they crafted using a white sheet and blue ink.
The flag was initially granted to one of the IDF soldiers who participated in the mission as a token of recognition. Now, 55 years later, that same soldier returned the flag to the ownership of the State of Israel.
This Friday, according to the Jewish calendar, marks the 55 year anniversary of the Six Day War. Countless legends and artifacts were collected from this war by the state, and the notorious, improvised Israeli flag will now be added to the collection.
The flag is an imitation of the one which can be seen on a famous picture from the Independence War that shows soldiers of the Negev Brigade waving a spontaneously crafted flag upon conquering Eilat in March 1949. The IDF soldiers that took over Gaza in the Six Day War were inspired by this historic picture, and recreated the moment themselves.
The mission to conquer the Gazan post office building was a complex one, given snipers from the nearby building were shooting at the IDF forces, amongst them Zalman Yerichimovich - then a reserves soldier, and today an 80-year-old Be'er Sheva resident.
Zalman and two additional soldiers who stormed the building were volunteers. They managed to get past the snipers, break into the building, and take down the Egyptian soldiers that tried to shoot them. The first thing the soldiers did when the battle came to an end, and the building was in Israel's hands, was take take down the Egyptian flag.
In order to avoid friendly fire and make the Israeli victory clear, the soldiers started to cobble together an Israeli flag to wave over the building. "We found a white sheet and an inkwell with blue ink in the building," says Zalman. The soldiers then scribbled two lines and a Star of David, just as the soldiers who conquered Eilat in the Independence War did.
About a month an a half after the war, Zalman was bestowed with the flag during an honorary ceremony in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Some 55 years later, Zalman made a moral-based decision to give up the flag and hand it over to the Ammunition Hill Heritage Site. "Its important to me that the flag is retained forever and that our story will be told for generations to come," he says.
"I remember the battles well. My commander fell in the war, I promised that I'd name my eldest son after him, and that's what I did," Zalman adds.
Zalman's son indeed shares the name of his father's commander, who went by his last name - Flick.
Katri Maoz, manager of the Ammunition Hill Heritage Site, said: "The unique story of the spontaneous improvisation expressed the soldiers' connection to the flag's essence, which symbolizes the sovereignty of our land. The artifacts and letters are special and emotional testimonies that will help following generations understand and feel the events of the unique war that united Jerusalem."