40 years ago today…

“the armies of egypt, jordan, syria and lebanon are poised on the borders of israel…to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of iraq, algeria, kuwait, sudan and the whole arab nation. this act will astound the world. today they will know that the arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. we have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.”  –jordanian king hussein after signing a defense pact with egypt in 1967.

background:

a few years earlier in the 1960s pressure began to build. in may 1967 egyptian president gamal nasser began building up pro-war rhetoric in the media and then closed the strait of tiran to israeli shipping. the fatah group, headed by yasser arafat (recently deceased), began calling for war to eliminate israel. jordan signed a defense pact with egypt, readying itself for war. on june 4, iraq likewise joined a military alliance with egypt and committed itself to war stating “this is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. our goal is clear – to wipe israel off the map.”

israel could not maintain total military mobilization indefinitely. when it became apparent that egypt would not stand down, israel attacked the egyptians beginning on june 5, 1967. in the first hours of the war, israel destroyed over 400 enemy aircraft to achieve total air superiority. israeli troops quickly conquered the sinai peninsula and gaza. jordanian artillery began firing at jerusalem on the first day of the war, despite a warning by israeli prime minister levi eshkol to stay out of the war, and then the jordan legion advanced and took over the headquarters of the un (governor’s house – armon hanatziv ) in jerusalem. after warning king hussein repeatedly to cease fire and withdraw, israel conquered the west bank and jerusalem. during the first days of the war, syrian artillery based in the golan heights pounded civilian targets in northern israel. after dealing with egypt, israel decided to conquer the golan heights. after just six days of fighting, israeli forces broke through the enemy lines and were in a position to march on cairo, damascus and amman. along with the territories conquered, israel now had close to a million palestinians under it’s rule.

jordanian police academy – ammunition hill outpost:

lyrics: Yoram Taharlev

It was the morning of the second day of the war in Jerusalem.
The horizon became pale in the east. We were in the middle
of the battle on Ammunition Hill. We had been fighting for 3 hours.
It was a stubborn battle. Murderous.
The Jordanians fought stubbornly. It was an exceptionally fortified area.
At a certain point in the battle only 4 soldiers remained with me.
We arrived there with a force of two platoons.
I did not know where the others were, as the line of communication with
Dudik the commander had been cut off at the beginning of the battle.
At that moment I thought everyone had been killed.”

At two, two-thirty
We entered via the stony ground
Into the fire and mine fields
Of Ammunition Hill.

Against fortified bunkers
And 120mm mortars
One hundred and some boys
On Ammunition Hill

The pillar of dawn did not yet rise
Half the platoon lay, in blood
But we were already there
At Ammunition Hill.

Between the fences and the mines
We left only the paramedics
And we ran at the loss of senses
To Ammunition Hill

“At that moment a hand grenade was thrown from outside.
Miraculously, we were not wounded by it.
I feared the Jordanians would throw additional grenades.
Someone had to run above the trenches and to guard.
I had no time to ask who would volunteer.
I sent Eitan. Eitan did not hesitate for even a moment.
He climbed up and started firing his machine gun.
At times he would pass me, and I had to yell to him to stay in my line.
We proceeded in such a fashion for about 30 meters.
Eitan was covering for us from above, and we purified the bunkers from inside,
until he was wounded in the head and fell into the trench.”

We descended into the trenches,
Into the pits and the channels
And into the death in the ditches
Of Ammunition Hill.

No one asked a thing
Whoever went first fell
Much luck was needed
On Ammunition Hill

Whoever fell was dragged back
So as not to block the passageway
Until the next in line fell
On Ammunition Hill.

Perhaps we were lions
But whoever wished to live
Should not have been
On Ammunition Hill.

We decided to try blowing their bunker up with the bazooka bomb.
The bazooka made a few scratches in the concrete.
We decided to try explosives.
I waited above them until the guy with the explosives returned.
He would throw me bundle after bundle,
and I would place them one by one at the entrance of the bunker.
The Jordanians had a system: first they threw a hand grenade,
then they fired a round of ammunition, then they rested.
So, between the firing and the grenade I would advance towards
the entrance of their bunker and lay down the explosives.
I set off the explosives and went back as far as I could.
I only had four meters in which to move,
as there were Legionnaires behind me.
I do not know why I was awarded a Symbol of Merit.
All I wanted was to get home safely.

At seven, seven-twenty
to the police training school
Those who remained were gathered
from Ammunition Hill.

Smoke rose from the hill
The sun in the east rose higher
We returned to the city – seven
From Ammunition Hill.

We returned to the city-seven
Smoke rose from the hill
The sun in the east rose higher
Over Ammunition Hill.

Over fortified bunkers
And over our brothers
That remained there at the age of 20
On Ammunition Hill.

 

 private eitan nave:

on the 6th of june, 1967, in jerusalem, in the battle for ammunition hill, the paratroopers encounters stiff jordanian resistance and could no longer advance. without a moments hesitation, eitan nave jumped out of the trenches and provided covering fire from above, exposed to enemy fire. his actions enabled the paratroopers to advance while he ran decisively, striking down many legionnaires, above, without cover, alongside the force in the trenches, until he was killed by a jordanian bullet to the head.

for his actions, private eitan nave was awarded the medal of bravery, the highest honor awarded by the israeli defense forces.

the way to mt. scopus and the old city was now open. 37 paratroopers had fallen in the battle for ammunition hill and the jordanian police academy grounds.  the paratroopers who fought at ammunition hill were faithful to the combat principles of their training – courage, steadfastness, assisting one’s comrades under fire, initiative and ingenuity.

40 years ago today…

p.s. richard jones, u.s. ambassador to israel, as well as all europian union countries, represented by harald kindermann of germany, rejected invitations to participate in a special jerusalem day ceremony in the knesset, marking 40 years since the city’s unification. the boycott is due to the conflict over east jerusalem’s position as part of israel’s capital.

nir

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “40 years ago today…

  1. Hi Nir,

    I have enjoyed very much reading throught all this and the pictures are great too.

    Thanks for sharing.

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