Standing among the pines in the trenches, it is almost impossible to imagine that one of bloodiest battles of the Six-Day War was fought right here on Ammunition Hill (Givat Hatachmoshet).
To gain access to Mount Scopus and the Jerusalem-Ramallah Road, the task of capturing Ammunition Hill and the fortified Jordanian Police Training School, was assigned to IDF Paratroopers. It was clear that the capture of the hill would be crucial in gaining access to the Old City.
Today, the site serves as a memorial to all those who fell in battle for Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. One can easily understand why Ammunition Hill was the location chosen as a national memorial for the reunification of Jerusalem.
Built on a slope, the winding fortified trenches were planned in such a way that one trench provides cover for other trenches. This was one of the reasons it was hard for the paratroopers to advance and capture their target. A huge reinforced concrete bunker also made capturing the hill difficult. Ultimately, Paratroopers took the hill, only after blowing the bunker up.
The fighting that took place on the night of June 6, 1967 lasted four hours. In those few short hours 36 men lost their lives. One of the Six-Day War’s best-known folk songs — Givat Hatachmoshet — tells the story of the battle that took place on Ammunition Hill.
This site is more than just a memorial. There is also a museum, in the reconstructed bunker. The museum’s arched roof was built to resemble the buildings that were originally built on the hill by the British Army, before 1948 (virtually all the original buildings were destroyed during the Six-Day War).
One might think that only those with a keen interest in history would be interested in seeing Ammunition Hill. Yet, even if military history is not a subject that holds great interest for you, consider seeing it. You will most likely gain a new appreciation for what Israeli forces had to overcome in reunifying Jerusalem in 1967, just by visiting the site. Those who do have a great interest in history will find the movie and exhibits in the museum interesting. There are detailed explanations of the various fighting forces and the role, they played in the campaign.
When visiting a memorial, it is usually far from the actual location. That is not the case here. If you have drawn a picture, of a hill in some remote location you will be amazed to see just how close Ammunition Hill is to Jerusalem’s Route # 1, the Hyatt Regency hotel and Mt. Scopus. Standing on the hill you will be able to see the Ramot Eshkol neighborhood, to the west, Nebi Samuel’s peak and the Ramot neighborhood. The ‘French Hill’ neighborhood is to the northeast and the Hebrew University’s campus on Mt. Scopus.
Sources: Copyright © 2000 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission. Photos Copyright © 2000 Mitchell Bard.