This morning we donned our new Israel Defense Forces T-shirts, received our dog tags, and headed for Ammunition Hill (גבעת התחמושת), which was a fortified Jordanian military post and the location of some the fiercest fighting in the Six Day War. Here on this hillside, on June 6, 1967, Israeli paratroopers battled to oust entrenched Jordanian legionnaires to link central Jerusalem with the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus. Thirty-seven troops lost their lives in the battle for the reunification of the city.
Today, Ammunition Hill is a national memorial and an induction center for IDF soldiers (our madricha Ariella was drafted into the Israeli Army here). We spent the morning learning about the history of this important site, watching an in-depth documentary film that includes a 3-D model about the siege.
Then we were given our mission–to reenact a conflict between the Israelis (students) vs. the Jordanians (staff) in a rendition of Capture the Flag using the system of underground bunkers and trenches at Ammunition Hill as our battlefield. Pinecones made excellent grenades. Here’s a glimpse at how the battle played out:
After our time at Ammunition Hill, we visited what was a military secret until 1972–a cable car that was used to bring supplies to soldiers (and ferry back the wounded) atop Mount Zion during the War of Independence from Jewish-controlled west Jerusalem. The cable car was only put into action in the cover of night; during the day, it was lowered into the valley by a pulley system so the Jordanian troops could not detect it.
This class can make lemonade out of any lemons they are given. Our bus hit some heavy traffic on the way back to pick us up from the cable car museum, so they passed the time waiting on the sidewalk by greeting the passing motorists with “Shabbat Shalom!” … some even returned our good wishes. Jerusalem may never be the same again …
We then headed back to the Mahane Yehudah to stock up on sweets and fruit for Shabbat. Tonight, we will return to the Kotel one last time for a Kabbalat Shabbat celebration filled with joy and prayer.