Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Six-Day War in 1967. The Israelis needed Ammunition Hill to reach the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus which was surrounded by Jordanian controlled East Jerusalem. On June 6, 1967, Israeli paratroopers arrived at the hill under cover of darkness and found more than three times the number of Jordanian troops than they had anticipated. The battle lasted four hours and resulted in an Israeli victory. Soldiers on both sides showed immense bravery and courage. Today Ammunition Hill (Givate Hatachmoshet) is a memorial and museum dedicated to the famous battle.
History of Ammunition Hill
During the British Mandate for Palestine (1918-1948) buildings on the hill were used to store ammunition for an adjacent police academy. In 1948 Israel gained independence and the seven Arab league members attacked the new country. At the end of the War of Independence (Arab-Israeli War), Jordan held Ammunition Hill and East Jerusalem including Mount Scopus. Israel kept West Jerusalem and a Jewish enclave on Mount Scopus that included Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University which were effectively cut off from the rest of Israel. For the next 19 years, Jordan held Jerusalem and placed a fortified military post on Ammunition Hill. The Jordanian post had ten bunkers set out about 100m apart along three trench systems.
The Battle of Ammunition Hill
In 1967 the Six-Day War erupted and Israel set out to reclaim Jerusalem. As part of the military operation, a decision was made to attack the Jordanian police academy near Ammunition Hill. The police academy was found to be empty as the Jordanians had taken cover in the bunkers on Ammunition Hill. The battle commenced at 2:30 am on June 6, 1967, when Israeli paratroopers approached the hill and began navigating the narrow trenches, which were only wide enough for one man, so troops had to walk single file. The soldier at the front of the line was exposed to immediate Jordanian fire as they reached each bunker. The Israeli paratroopers suffered constant attacks from the hidden bunkers and gunfire on the open ground. Once the paratroopers made it through the first trench system, the trenches continued uphill with steep stone stairs. It became increasingly harder to look outside of the trenches where bullets were flying through the darkness.
Bravery at Ammunition Hill
The Deputy Company Commander, Nir Nitzan realized they needed cover from above. He sent 21-year-old machine gunner Aitan Nava out of the trench to give them cover. Without hesitation, Nava jumped out of the trench and heroically gave his fellow paratroopers cover while exposing himself to Jordanian fire. Atan was inevitably shot and another brave soldier took up his position. Private Aitan Nava was later awarded the Israeli Medal of Honor.
The End of the Battle of Ammunition Hill
One bunker became the final stronghold of the Jordanian legionnaires but was destroyed by Israeli explosives. As the sun began to rise the Battle of Ammunition Hill drew to an end. Before leaving the paratroopers created a memorial for the 35 fallen Israeli paratroopers and also buried 17 Jordanian legionnaires who had died fighting courageously. The Israelis reached Mount Scopus and continued to the Old City where they were overwhelmed with emotion at the Western Wall where no Jew had prayed for the last 19 years.
Visiting Ammunition Hill
Ammunition Hill lies between the modern neighborhoods of French Hill and Ramat Eshkol. Visitors can explore the site; walk among the battle fortifications and in the historic trenches. A museum is housed in a recreated bunker with a video presentation and exhibits presenting the personal and national stories of the historic events. See the memorial created for the fallen soldiers, historic tanks, and a 3D model of Jerusalem as it was in 1967. From the hilltop, there are 360° views across Jerusalem.