Monday, May 6, 2013

Selections from a Diary of Jerusalem's Liberation

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by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, IDF Chief Rabbi in the Six-Day War

First to the Wailing Wall
In a private conversation, I told division commander Motta Gur that I had managed to secured a guarantee through operational documents that when we conquer the Old City of Jerusalem, I would be the first to reach the Wailing Wall. To this Motta Gur replied, "If you want to be the first to reach the Wailing Wall, you will have to be on good terms with me."

"Why with you?" I asked.

"Because," he replied, "I am going to be the one who conquers the Old City."

I said to him, "If you promise me that you will conquer the Old City and allow me to be the first person by the Western Wall, I promise to keep on good terms with you."

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We shook hands as a sign of accord and commitment. There were two other officers present who heard our discussion. This took place in 1961. Thereafter, Motta Gur changed positions until he finally became commander of 55 Parachute Brigade.

Noontime . . . the armored vehicle came and took me to the museum. There, I found division commander Motta Gur and late deputy brigade commander Moshe Peles. I congratulated them on the task they had been given and on the historic privilege that had fallen into their hands - the conquest of the Old City and the liberation of the Temple Mount and Western Wall. I reminded Motta Gur of our agreement six years earlier regarding my entrance to the Western Wall.

Motta was very depressed. He informed me that he had received orders not to enter the Old City but rather to surround it from all sides. Under no circumstances was he to enter the city. He added that apparently the policy was to leave the Old City in the hands of the city's Arab population without conquering it.

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