Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Yydl)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is making a last-ditch effort to keep the
memorial and museum at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem from closing. The
director of the site, Katri Maoz, announced last week that the area would close
on Monday due to lack of funds.
The Paratroop Brigade fought a fierce
battle there against the Jordanian Arab Legion on June 6, 1967, during the Six
Day War. The victory on the hilltop was a turning point in the army’s campaign
Since the state comptroller forbade the site from
collecting entrance fees two years ago, it has struggled
financially. Ammunition Hill is classified as a government site, and
therefore must be open to the public free of charge.
200,000 people visit each year, including 80,000 soldiers, Maoz said. The
NIS 15 tickets formerly allowed the site to maintain a museum, amphitheater,
events hall, educational center, several memorials and an interactive light
show. Maoz said it needs NIS 2 million a year to operate, but the Defense
Ministry only budgeted NIS 910,000 for 2012.
On Friday, Steinitz
announced that he ordered the head of his ministry’s budgets department to find
money to keep the memorial and museum open.
“This is one of the most
important sites commemorating Israel’s history,” he said in a statement released
by his office. “It is important that every child, and every citizen, visits it.
I will make every effort to prevent its closure.”
But Maoz said on
Saturday night he had yet to hear from Steinitz’s office and was worried that
the announcement was only a gesture made to appease the public. Ammunition Hill
still plans to close its doors at 5 p.m. on Monday following a beret graduation
ceremony for paratroopers.
If no solution is found, families who lost
soldiers in the battle during the Six Day War will hold a quiet ceremony where
they will take down the giant Israeli flag that flies on top of Ammunition Hill,
said Maoz. It will be the first time that the national flag has been absent
since 1967. Moaz added that the families will fold the flag and bring it to the
Prime Minister’s Residence in protest until funding is found for the
“There won’t be a demonstration, we’re not trying to yell or make
noise,” Maoz said. “The idea is that the subject is painful enough that it
should speak for itself. There are kids who were just a few months old when
their parents were killed... [This sends the message that] what that their
parents did for Jerusalem and the State of Israel was not enough.”Nadav
Shemer contributed to this report.