We continue to bring you Israelis’ remembrances of the Six-Day War, this time with the story of Josephine Bacon, who not only recalls the terror leading up to the war, but the joy felt by Israelis at its end when they were at last able to enter Jerusalem’s Old City:
We filled every available receptacle with water, because June is quite a hot month and Jerusalem is very dry. If we’d had our water supply cut off we would have been in difficulty, especially as I had a small child.
We did the usual things that one does in war – you stick tape over the windows so a blast won’t shatter them and cause damage inside. There were hardly any air raid shelters at the time.
For the first couple of days there was shelling from the United Nations building (captured by the Jordanians on the first day of the war) which landed around our house. We sheltered in the corridor, which had no windows, and put up the dining room table vertically to hopefully stave off any blast. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been any use if we’d had a direct hit, but it was comforting anyway.
On the day the fighting started I went to work as I hadn’t heard anything. I went into my office as usual and then the civil defence people told us we must go down to the shelter. I was sharing a room with Rabbi Rabinowitz, who had been the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and we both said we wouldn’t bother to go down to the shelter. But of course Jordan entered the war about 1100 that day, and where I worked was in direct line of fire from Jordan. We were forced to go down stairs and sure enough our office got a direct hit. I’ve still got a piece of shrapnel that I picked up from the floor…
One of the greatest moments of my life was when we could go into the old city after the war ended. At first, because they were still clearing snipers, they only allowed people to go in the Dung Gate and by a certain route. We had to walk up Mount Sion past the church of St Peter of Gallicantu and then you could see the Western Wall below you.
And that year there had been a lot of rain in the spring and the road was covered in grass and wild flowers – it was absolutely wonderful. Tulips, anemones, cyclamen – it was just so moving to see all these places and to go into the city for the first time.