ammunition hill 88.
(photo credit: )
One of the most famous memorial sites from the Six Day War, Ammunition Hill, is
in a battle for its survival, a year after the state comptroller forced the
site’s managers to stop charging an entrance fee, The Jerusalem Post has
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Government sites open to the public, like Ammunition Hill, are
not allowed to charge visitors an entrance fee. But the site, which is home to a
museum, amphitheater, events hall, educational center, multiple memorials and an
interactive light show, said it needs the fees to keep the facilities operating
Around 150,000 people visit the site – where a crucial Six Day
War battle took place – every year. Tickets used to cost NIS 15 for adults and
NIS 10 for children, though less than half of the visitors actually paid since
soldiers and the disabled got in for free. Almost all paratroopers and medics
visit the site during the course of their service.
“The tickets weren’t
to make it a business, the tickets were for the upkeep of the site,” said Shimon
Kahaner, who served as the director of the site for 18 years and has spent the
last 10 years in the same role as a volunteer. “There are expenses, water,
electricity, workers, cleaning, lots of things.
“If the state says don’t
sell tickets, open the gates, we say, great, that’s only good for us. We want
everyone to come to hear what happened here.”
But the state needs to find
another way to finance the site if it isn’t allowed to charge admission, he
At State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s insistence, the site
stopped charging admission on January 1, 2010. Lindenstrauss had been warning
the site for two years prior to stop charging admission, and the site agreed
after the Defense Ministry said it would try to secure extra money for its
After nearly a year of operating without admission fees, the
Defense Ministry finally delivered the extra money on December 31. But it was
only NIS 300,000, less than a third of what the site had requested from the
Defense Ministry, said Kahaner. The site receives an annual budget from the
state of NIS 670,000.
Plenty of international donors support the site,
like one Los Angeles family that donated $400,000 for an interactive light show
in memory of their parents who were killed in the Holocaust.
won’t pay for electricity bills and cleaners, said Kahaner. The events hall at
the site barely makes a profit, he added.
“By law, they can’t charge
money for entrance to the site,” said a spokesperson for the comptroller’s
office. “If they want to charge an entrance fee to the museum, that’s something
Government sites are put into a variety of different
categories that determine whether they can charge an entrance fee, and the state
comptroller is responsible for enforcing these regulations.
“When it was
just the bunkers and the trenches, we didn’t take money. But when they
started building things and established things, they needed money for the
upkeep,” said Kahaner.
Kahaner, who served as a deputy commander of a
paratroop regiment in Jerusalem in the Six Day War, called it a “shame and
disgrace” that the site wasn’t getting the support it needed from the
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“One hundred eighty-two people lost their lives for Jerusalem
[in the Six Day War], including my friends who fought alongside me,” said
Kahaner. “These are people that I owe, I owe their families. I also owe the
soldiers who fought and returned home alive, who always keep this part of
Jerusalem and this part of this war in their hearts.”
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