Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Memorial marking decisive 1967 battle for Jerusalem closed down

Twilight of the Heroes?

Memorial marking decisive 1967 battle for Jerusalem closed down

A national memorial park marking one of the most important and bloody battles in Israeli history is being closed down as a result of budget cuts.

The park on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem marks the site of some of the hardest fighting of the Six Day War, which proved essential to the Israeli victory that reunited the capital.

Hampered by faulty intelligence and the extensive defensive works dug by the Jordanian army, IDF paratroopers fought their way up the hill for five hours, losing 36 of their number before the hill was finally taken on the morning of June 6, 1967.

In the euphoric aftermath of the war, the Battle of Ammunition Hill became a legendary event, even serving as the subject of a hit pop song.

Now, however, it seems that Israel has turned its back on one of its most famous victories and the men who fought and died for it. With the IDF and Israeli government unwilling to provide the 2 million shekels a year necessary to run the memorial park, it's doors were closed on Monday and the flag that has flown over it since that day in 1967 was taken down.

The closing did not come without protest. Veterans of the battle and of the Six Day War in general marched to the Prime Minister's residence carrying the hill's flag, along with the sons and daughters of the dead.
"For two-and-a-half years we did everything that we could to honor the memories of our fathers" said Alon Vald, the son of Captain Rami Vald who was killed in the Six Day War. He said that they took the flag down with "pain in our hearts," but added that they found no alternative.
Just before the veterans removed the flag, a tearful veteran begged them not to take it down. "Don't take the flag down" he said. "You simply can't leave this place without a flag. Politics are not the right way, there are dozens of options, just not the flag."