Jerusalem Day: Once Divided, Now United
Over the centuries many battles have been fought and many empires have ruled Jerusalem. After many generations Jerusalem was once again the capitol of the Jewish people. However, for the first 19 years of the State of Israel, Jerusalem was a divided city.
A Divided City
On November 27th, 1947 United Nations divided the British Mandate of Palestine into two states – one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Jews celebrated and formally declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. However, the Arab population was extremely discontented and immediately began committing violent acts.
In the city of Jerusalem the conditions were appalling. The Arab Legion besieged the city and cut off all supplies resulting in lack of food, water, fuel and medical supplies. Artillery bombarded the city 24 hours a day. The residents of Jerusalem were in a situation of
With the city under siege, Israeli forces knew a compromise was necessary for the sake of the residents of the city. Lt. Col. Moshe Dayan and Lt. Col. Abdullah Tal on November 30th, 1948 agreed to what they believed would be a temporary boarder dividing Jerusalem. Nevertheless, for the next 19 years this haphazardly drawn boarder would divide the city.
In early 1949 a cease-fire came into effect. It was an uneasy cease-fire and not strictly observed with frequent sniper fire throughout the city. While the major fighting was over, the city continued to look like a war zone. The two halves of the city were entirely cut off from one another. They were separated by barbed wire and mine fields.
Because the boarder was arbitrarily drawn, houses and buildings were cut in half. This resulted in no-man’s lands causing additional friction and incidents amongst the residents. With the exception of diplomatic personnel and religious clergy no one could pass through the boarder. As a result, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall.
From May 5th to 10th, 1967 Israel fought the Six-Day Way with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Israel was overwhelmingly victorious. One of the major results was the reunification of Jerusalem. After a long battle Moshe Dayan, now Defense Minister and the same man who agreed to the boarder dividing the city, declared that, “This morning… We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again.”
Within days the barbed wire was removed and the mines cleared. For the Jewish residents of the city it was time like no other. They were free to visit the Western Wall which gave them not only spiritual strength but hope for their country. The city expanded rapidly and became the focal point for the whole State of Israel.
On the 27th of Iyar (this year Tuesday May 7th) we celebrate Jerusalem Day, the day in 1967 Jerusalem was united. We celebrate Jerusalem’s fulfillment of the Biblical legacy and we honor the thousands who sacrificed themselves for this holy place.
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