Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem 390.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Yydl)
Ammunition Hill will not close after an emergency meeting on Monday evening in
which Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser promised a budget of NIS 2 million for the
Representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Defense
Ministry and the Finance Ministry worked with Katri Maoz, the director of the
Ammunition Hill museum and memorial, who said the site needed at least NIS 2
million to continue operating.
Before the decision was reached, a group
of veterans and children of soldiers killed in the battle for Ammunition Hill
lowered the giant billowing flag from the hilltop Monday afternoon for the first
time since 1967. The dramatic move drew condemnation from some veterans who
fought in the Six Day War.
The flag lowering was in protest of the lack
of government funding for the site, which had depleted its resources and could
not pay even the salaries of its six employees, according to director Katri
Representatives at the emergency meeting also decided to submit
legislation that would legally solidify funding for the site.
heritage of the soldiers of the IDF will continue,” Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office after the meeting
concluded. “As I said yesterday at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting,
Ammunition Hill will not close.”
“Ammunition Hill will stay open so that
every citizen of Israel will be able to continue to stand on the ground where
the heroic story of the Six Day War took place,” he vowed.
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Brigade fought a fierce battle at Ammunition Hill against the Jordanian Arab
Legion on June 6, 1967, during the Six Day War. The hilltop victory 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
In an emotional moment in the afternoon, family members and
soldiers lowered the giant flag, which measures 8 meters by 12 meters and is one
of the largest in Israel.
“For two-and-a-half years we did everything
that we could to honor the memories of our fathers,” said Alon Vald, son of
Captain Rami Vald who was killed on Ammunition Hill. He said that they took the
flag down with “pain in our hearts.”
Just before the group removed the
flag, a tearful veteran who fought in the battle for Ammunition Hill begged them
to stop. “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 [to
find funding] – just not the flag.”
Vald responded that they had not
found a funding alternative.
“It’s sad that this is what it’s come to,
that the state can’t maintain such an important site,” said Dror Lev, who fought
in Battalion 66, which lost 36 soldiers in the Six Day War – 21 of them at
“I have mixed feelings, on the one hand, he’s right –
you should never take down a flag,” Lev said. “On the other hand this is the
only thing that can move people, and the site needs to be maintained by the
state and not by donations.”
Since the state comptroller forbade the site
from collecting entrance fees two years ago, it has struggled
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.
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