Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Yydl)
Veterans from the Six Day War were making their way toward the Prime Minister's Residence with a large flag that flew atop Ammunition Hill in protest of the memorial's closure on Monday. It marked the first time that the flag had been removed from the hilltop since 1967.
The Paratroop Brigade fought a fierce battle at Ammunition Hill 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 for Jerusalem. The memorial and museum at the site were closed at 5 p.m. Monday after a beret ceremony for paratroopers, due to a lack of funds.
"For two-and-a-half years we did everything that we could to honor the memories of our fathers" said Alon Vald, the son of Captain Rami Vald who was killed in the Six Day War. He said that they took the flag down with "pain in our hearts," but added that they found no alternative.
Just before the veterans removed the flag, a tearful veteran begged them not to take it down. "Don't take the flag down" he said. "You simply can't leave this place without a flag. Politics are not the right way, there are dozens of options, just not the flag."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday to find the funding needed to save the site. “We owe a great deal to our soldiers,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
“One of the things that we owe them is to uphold their heritage of heroism. I have spoken with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who expressed his views on the matter.Ammunition Hill will not be closed. We will find the budget so that it will continue to operate,” he said.
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.
Approximately 200,000 people visit each year, including 80,000 soldiers, Katri Maoz, the director of Ammunition Hill said Sunday. 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.