1967 found the fledgling Jewish state of Israel in peril. To her south the powerful Egyptian army amassed thousands of tanks, to her north Syrian heavy guns were already shelling civilian settlements and to her east the Jordanian army deployed its mechanized brigades and the Iraqi air force prepared its fighter squadrons for attack. While President Nasser of Egypt declared these armies’ objectives were, “the total destruction of Israel,” the world turn their heads, no one coming to the aid of our small strip of democracy.
Israel’s military commanders and Prime Minister Eskol took Nasser’s threat seriously and launched a preemptive strike, much to the shock of the threatening nations. In six astounding days Israel managed to rout the aggressing armies and won a decisive land war. By the end of the six days Israel took control of new lands including the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank from Jordan.
While these newly gained lands tripled Israel’s land mass, there was another victory that meant more to the State of Israel than all the other lands combined… Jerusalem.
IDF paratroopers were ordered to enter the Old City upon Defense Minister Moshe Dayan learning the UN was about to force a ceasefire.
The paratroopers fought hand to hand combat without armored reinforcement so the Old City would not be damaged. They liberated the Old City and were so overcome with joy the soldiers sang, danced and cried at the Western Wall.
Immediately after the battle the symbol of Israel’s fighting forces, Moshe Dayan, along with the IDF’s 55th Paratroop Brigade triumphantly entered the Old City through Lion’s Gate. They raised the Israeli flag over the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. For the first time in 2000 years Judaism’s holiest sites were back under Jewish control.