Netanyahu promises to find funds for Ammunition Hill

PM vows to prevent closure of J’lem museum and memorial.

By MELANIE LIDMAN, JPOST.COM STA
February 20, 2012 04:19
2 minute read.
Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem

Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem 390. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Yydl)

 
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Despite promises from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to find funding for the struggling site, the memorial and museum at Ammunition Hill are still expected to close on Monday due to lack of funds.

Katri Maoz, the director of Ammunition Hill, said that though both Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz have said they will work to find money to prevent the closure of the site, he has yet to receive concrete financial offers.

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“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.

Maoz welcomed the statements, but said until the site received definite solutions to their budget problem, it will close to the public at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, following a beret ceremony for paratroopers.

“We’re very clear, if we don’t find a solution, we’ll close,” Maoz said.

If no solution is found, families who lost soldiers 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, Maoz said. It will be the first time that the national flag has been absent since 1967. The families will fold the flag and bring it to the Prime Minister’s Residence in protest until funding is found for the site, he added.



Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin instructed Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser to find a solution to keep Ammunition Hill open, and Hauser promised to find a budgetary solution.

Rivlin was an intelligence officer in the Six Day War and took part in the battle for Ammunition Hill.

“Ammunition Hill is one of the most important symbols of our heritage in the birth of Jerusalem, and it should not be closed to the Israeli public just because of budget problems,” he said in a statement released by his office.

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 for Jerusalem.

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, 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.

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