MK Reuven Rivlin paid tribute on Monday to residents of the capital’s Jewish Quarter killed in the War of Independence.

“A stranger will not understand how deep Jerusalem is rooted in our hearts,” Rivlin said at a ceremony on the Mount of Olives. “Whoever doesn’t build Jerusalem today, can bring its division tomorrow.”

Rivlin, who was born and raised in Jerusalem and was eight years old during the War of Independence, recalled years in which the city was under siege.

“We feared more than anything else for the fate of the Jewish Quarter, its residents and those who fought for their lives house to house,” he said. “We weren’t concerned about the fate of [the] Rehavia [neighborhood] the way we were about [the Mount of Olives] and Mount Moriah.”

As a child, he added, he and his friends wanted to join the fight and would have done so if their parents hadn’t stopped them.

Rivlin mentioned the youngest victims of the battle for Jerusalem, Nissim Gini, 10, and Gracia Yaffa Harush, 16.

Gini served as a lookout in the Jewish Quarter while it was under siege in 1948 and is recognized as the youngest Israeli casualty of war.

“Yaffa and Nissim were not trained as fighters. They were not trained to stand in battle or throw grenades, but their names will forever be known as those who fell in the battle to liberate Jerusalem. In the battle for Jerusalem, there were no civilians and soldiers. The whole city united in battle,” he said.

“Those who loved Jerusalem and fought for it did not follow orders written in advance. Their hearts told them how to act. It was the dream of generations that threw them into battle.”

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