The picture on the right of the paratroopers liberating the Kotel is probably one of the more famous photos of Israeli history.
In the winter of ’95 I had the privilege of meeting one of the gentlemen in the photo and hearing his recollection of the war and the day that Jerusalem was finally reunified.
It was an amazing story that I’ll never forget. I can’t begin to do it justice so I’ll do as many others have and provide you with links to the recording of the recapture of the Old City and the transcript of the recording.
“This is Mordechai Twersky reporting from Jerusalem:
What you are now about to hear is perhaps one of the most riveting recordings in the modern-day history of Israel. I refer to the dramatic sounds of Israeli Defense Forces entering and liberating Jerusalemâ€™s Old City and the Western Wall on June 7th, 1967. You hear the sounds of gunfire. You hear the footsteps of Israeli soldiers, as they draw closer and closer and as General Uzi Narkiss instructs them and asks to be shown where the Western Wall stands. We hear a triumphant Brigadier General Shlomo Goren, later to become the Chief Rabbi of Israel, as he recites the memorial prayer and sound the shofar, as Israeli soldiers weep with sorrow over their comrades killed in combat.
Listen closely to this piece of history, which is housed in the archives of the Avi Yaffe Recording Studio in Jerusalem.
Colonel Motta Gur [on loudspeaker]: All company commanders, weâ€™re sitting right now on the ridge and weâ€™re seeing the Old City. Shortly weâ€™re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City. Eitanâ€™s tanks will advance on the left and will enter the Lionâ€™s Gate. The final rendezvous will be on the open square above.
[The open square of the Temple Mount.]
[Sound of applause by the soldiers.]
Yossi Ronen: We are now walking on one of the main streets of Jerusalem towards the Old City. The head of the force is about to enter the Old City.
Yossi Ronen: There is still shooting from all directions; weâ€™re advancing towards the entrance of the Old City.
[Sound of gunfire and soldiersâ€™ footsteps.]
[Yelling of commands to soldiers.]
[More soldiersâ€™ footsteps.]
The soldiers are keeping a distance of approximately 5 meters between them. Itâ€™s still dangerous to walk around here; there is still sniper shooting here and there.
Weâ€™re all told to stop; weâ€™re advancing towards the mountainside; on our left is the Mount of Olives; weâ€™re now in the Old City opposite the Russian church. Iâ€™m right now lowering my head; weâ€™re running next to the mountainside. We can see the stone walls. Theyâ€™re still shooting at us. The Israeli tanks are at the entrance to the Old City, and ahead we go, through the Lionâ€™s Gate. Iâ€™m with the first unit to break through into the Old City. There is a Jordanian bus next to me, totally burnt; it is very hot here. Weâ€™re about to enter the Old City itself. Weâ€™re standing below the Lionâ€™s Gate, the Gate is about to come crashing down, probably because of the previous shelling. Soldiers are taking cover next to the palm trees; Iâ€™m also staying close to one of the trees. Weâ€™re getting further and further into the City.
Colonel Motta Gur announces on the army wireless: The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!
All forces, stop firing! This is the David Operations Room. All forces, stop firing! I repeat, all forces, stop firing! Over.
Commander eight-nine here, is this Motta (Gur) talking? Over.
[Inaudible response on the army wireless by Motta Gur.]
Uzi Narkiss: Motta, there isnâ€™t anybody like you. Youâ€™re next to the Mosque of Omar.
Yossi Ronen: Iâ€™m driving fast through the Lionâ€™s Gate all the way inside the Old City.
Command on the army wireless: Search the area, destroy all pockets of resistance and make sure to enter every single house, especially the holy places.
[Lt.- Col. Uzi Eilam blows the Shofar. Soldiers are singing â€˜Jerusalem of Goldâ€™.]
Uzi Narkiss: Tell me, where is the Western Wall? How do we get there?
Yossi Ronen: Iâ€™m walking right now down the steps towards the Western Wall. Iâ€™m not a religious man, I never have been, but this is the Western Wall and Iâ€™m touching the stones of the Western Wall.
Soldiers: [reciting the â€˜Shehechianuâ€™ blessing]: Baruch ata Hashem, elokeinu melech haolam, she-hechianu ve-kiemanu ve-hegianu la-zman ha-zeh. [Translation: Blessed art Thou L-rd G-d King of the Universe who has sustained us and kept us and has brought us to this day]
Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Baruch ata Hashem, menachem tsion u-voneh Yerushalayim. [Translation: Blessed are thou, who comforts Zion and bulids Jerusalem]
[Soldiers sing â€˜Hatikvaâ€™ next to the Western Wall.]
Rabbi Goren: Weâ€™re now going to recite the prayer for the fallen soldiers of this war against all of the enemies of Israel:
El male rahamim, shohen ba-meromim. Hamtse menuha nahona al kanfei hashina, be-maalot kedoshim, giborim ve-tehorim, kezohar harakiya meirim u-mazhirim. Ve-nishmot halalei tsava hagana le-yisrael, she-naflu be-maaraha zot, neged oievei yisrael, ve-shnaflu al kedushat Hashem ha-am ve-haâ€™arets, ve-shichrur Beit Hamikdash, Har Habayit, Hakotel ha-maâ€™aravi veyerushalayim ir ha-elokim. Be-gan eden tehe menuhatam. Lahen baâ€™al ha-rahamim, yastirem beseter knafav le-olamim. Ve-yitsror be-tsror ha-hayim et nishmatam adoshem hu nahlatam, ve-yanuhu be-shalom al mishkavam [soldiers weeping loud]ve-yaâ€™amdu le-goralam le-kets ha-yamim ve-nomar amen!
[Translation: Merciful G-d in heaven, may the heroes and the pure, be under thy Divine wings, among the holy and the pure who shine bright as the sky, and the souls of soldiers of the Israeli army who fell in this war against the enemies of Israel, who fell for their loyalty to G-d and the land of Israel, who fell for the liberation of the Temple, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and Jerusalem the city of the Lord. May their place of rest be in paradise. Merciful One, O keep their souls forever alive under Thy protective wings. The Lord being their heritage, may they rest in peace, for they shalt rest and stand up for their allotted portion at the end of the days, and let us say, Amen.]
[Soldiers are weeping. Rabbi Goren sounds the shofar. Sound of gunfire in the background.]
Rabbi Goren: Le-shana HA-ZOT be-Yerushalayim ha-bâ€™nuya, be-yerushalayim ha-atika! [Translation: This year in a rebuilt Jerusalem! In the Jerusalem of old!]”
Mordechai Twersky, IsraCast.com
(The historic radio broadcast of the liberation of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall
was researched, transcribed and translated by Yitschak Horneman / Quality Translations, Jerusalem)