The Battle for Jerusalem: A Photo Essay

The Fellowship  |  May 25, 2017

Black and white image of a soldier in Jerusalem looking off into the distance.
The Battle for Jerusalem: A Photo Essay

As Israel was forced into war in 1967 – a war the Jewish state did not want – victory seemed hopeless. Yet, because of God’s miraculous hand, Israel was victorious. Now, in this photo essay from The Times of Israel’s Judah Ari Gross, newly-released photographs of the Battle for Jerusalem show us both the horror and the joy that were experienced during the Six-Day War:

Up until the 1967 Six Day War, Jewish soldiers had lost practically every major battle to Jordan’s Arab Legion.

In the 1948 Independence War, the legionnaires trounced the Israelis at the Latrun Fort five times, put Jerusalem under siege, and massacred soldiers and civilians alike at Kfar Etzion in what is today the West Bank.

And indeed the first two days of the Six Day War saw bitter, brutal fighting in the then-divided city of Jerusalem between Israeli troops and the Jordanian Armed Forces — by 1967, it had dropped the name “Arab Legion” — including one of the fiercest battles of the entire war: the Battle of Ammunition Hill.

To coincide with this year’s Jerusalem Day celebrations on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry released dozens of photographs and transcripts, some of which have never been seen by the public before, documenting the vicious fighting for Jerusalem and its Old City, and the ecstasy that followed it…

However, the IDF had steered clear of Jerusalem’s Old City. That part of Jerusalem, which contained the holy sites of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, was considered a sensitive place, an area that could not be bombarded with artillery fire or barreled through with tanks.

What to do with the Old City was a hot topic of conversation in the security cabinet on June 6, according to transcripts of the meeting released last week.

Then-minister Menachem Begin was adamant that Israel should “not put it off for even another hour. We ought to enter the Old City without delay…”