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Jerusalem Day and the Six-Day War

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 “The Temple Mount is in our Hands!”

Machine gun magazines, bullets, Jordanian coins, and uniform badges were found in sifting the soil from the Temple Mount. The artifacts tell the story of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.

Broadcasted on the army radio network, nothing is more symbolic of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War than the immortal words of Colonel Mordechai “Motta” Gur, commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, as they conquered the Old City, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

IMG_3560We at the Temple Mount Sifting Project have this revelation daily as we work with soil and artifacts from the Temple Mount found by our project. The Temple Mount is literally in our hands.

As you know, our project is special in part because of the wide range of history it can help explain. Just as we have tangible artifacts from the Temple Mount’s ancient history, from the time of the First Temple’s destruction by the Babylonians, the Hasmonean wars, the Great Jewish Revolt which led to the destruction of the Second Temple, and the Crusader-Muslim battles, we have direct evidence of the Jordanian presence on the Temple Mount, and for the Six-Day War battles 50 years ago.

Yesterday, on Jerusalem Day celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, we had a booth in the Old City and displayed some of our special artifacts including our Opus Sectile floors, arrowheads, and artifacts from the Six-Day War. We had hundreds of people stop and learn about these artifacts as well as donate to our campaign to raise the funding necessary to continue our research. If you would like to support our research, please visit www.half-shekel.org or contact development@tmsifting.org for more information.

Some major news media covered the following artifacts in articles published yesterday. Here is a great one from The Times of Israel. It was also covered by The Jewish Press and on many Hebrew news sites.

Six-Day War – an Incredible Story

Among the artifacts that we have recovered from the Temple Mount are tens of items which may be related to the IDF’s arrival at the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War. Although these are not ancient archaeological artifacts, they have great historic significance and they can teach us about our recent history. It is usually thought that no battle occurred on the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War. The ammunition that we have found caused us to raised doubts regarding this premise and “dig” deeper into the details of the battle of Jerusalem during that time.

The IDF forces entered the Old City and the Temple Mount through the Lion’s Gate on Wednesday, June 7th 1967. The Jordanian forces had fled the city early in the morning, but some resistance pockets and sniper positions remained on the Temple Mount and the Old City. The previous day, the Jordanian military was positioned on the Eastern city wall, of which the Temple Mount’s Eastern wall is a significant part. On the night of June 6th, a special commando unit and some tanks were ordered to capture the Mount of Olives. They mistakenly lost their way, and instead of reaching the road towards the Augusta Victoria building, they reached the Kidron Bridge to the Gethsemane Church. The bridge’s location left them completely open to massive fire from the Jordanian positions on the wall above, killing 5 soldiers. During the rescue attempts, the IDF soldiers on the bridge fired back at the Jordanian positions. The story of this engagement is described well by Moshe Natan in his book, “The War for Jerusalem.”

In order to better understand our artifacts, we spoke with Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun who was a part of the paratroopers force that entered the city through the Lion’s Gate. He said, “Following the Kidron Bridge battle, the commander of the Jordanian battalion in the Old City asked permission to evacuate the Old City since he realized that the IDF was encircling it. The Egyptian General of the Eastern front did not understand the symbolic significance of the Old City and the Holy Sites [for Jordan] and allowed the retreat. The Jordanians fled the city [on June 7th] early in the morning. The IDF did not know that, and at 7am bombarded the city walls with artillery fire in order to make the Jordanian soldiers withdraw from the walls. One artillery shell that missed the target killed three of our soldiers […] From the minaret near the Gate of the Tribes, a Jordanian soldier shot at us, but we managed to take him down before he could hit one of our men. As we entered the gate into the Temple Mount, paratroopers shot bursts of fire into the air to intimidate [the Jordanians], but Motta Gur (the commander of the brigade) immediately gave his famous order, “Cease Fire! All forces cease fire! A holy place, do not shoot. The Temple Mount is in our hands.””

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We also recovered a 25 round magazine of an Israeli made Uzi sub-machine gun, which served as the personal weapon of every IDF commander. There are also several 9 mm bullets – the Uzi’s ammunition. A number of 9 mm bullet casings were found as well. One casing, which was produced abroad, has a manufacture date of 1956. Another 9 mm casing was manufactured in 1952 and has the Hebrew letters “MIT,” which is an acronym for the State of Israel, Military Industry. These bullets and casings attest to the fact that during the Six-Day War antiquated ammunition was used. In addition, a 7.62 mm blank cartridge with a headstamp date of 1957 was found. This round was probably used for firing an anti-tank grenade from a Belgian made Fal or “FN” rifle which was commonly in service of the IDF during this period. Among the ammunition that was found were two 50-caliber projectiles probably fired from a Browning heavy machine gun. The bullet tips are warped indicating that they hit a hard surface. It is likely that these bullets originated in the return fire of the IDF soldiers pinned down on the Kidron Bridge shooting at the Jordanians positioned on the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount.

Yaakov Goldfine, a soldier who was a sniper in the Jerusalem Brigade and entered the city from the Dung Gate, gave us a further explanation about the weapons used during the war. “We were using an English Enfield rifle which we upgraded to be used as a sniper rifle. For backup, we had the Belgian FN which was used by the infantry soldiers. […] I entered the gate and ascended the Temple Mount. It was easy to see how the Jordanians used the Temple Mount as a military fortification. In spite of that, our orders were not to shoot at the Old City with heavy weaponry or bomb it from the air. The neutralization of the Jordanian positions was done by the infantry forces, and it cost us losses.”

Check out this video about the ammunition we recovered from the Six-Day War!

Among the coins discovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project are four corrugated aluminum Agora coins. These are Israeli coins minted in 1967 and 1968 and which must have fallen out of the pockets of IDF soldiers or the first Israeli visitors who arrived at the Temple Mount following the Six-Day War.

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Furthermore, the sifting yielded nearly forty Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom coins. Almost all the coins were minted prior to the Six-Day War, when the area was under Jordanian control from 1948-1967.

Though Israel is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, and Gur’s famous statement is being remembered and widely shared, the Temple Mount itself has a more complex reality. The first Jordanian coin from the sifting was discovered on June 6, 2005, the 38th anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification. This coin was minted in 1991, and probably arrived at the Temple Mount in the pocket of a Muslim worshipper or a Waqf employee who worked on the Temple Mount. The Jordanian Dinar (and its denomination –piasters) has remained a legal currency in the West Bank, continuing from 1967 until today.

Two small metal badges depicting a Jordanian flag were also discovered in the sifting and may have been pinned to Jordanian army uniforms. The post-war Jordanian artifacts reflect the complex political situation on the Temple Mount. Officially, the State of Israel holds sovereignty over the area, but the state has de facto given some authority to the Jordanian Kingdom via the Islamic Waqf.

It is amazing how our artifacts really express these complex situations and these moments in time. It is research like this that makes me truly love archaeology and the different ways that it can be used to understand our past. This research falls into a somewhat new category of archaeology known as “Modern Conflict Archaeology” which takes an interdisciplinary approach to try and understand the artifacts created during modern conflict. (Definitely check out the above website, because it is a truly fascinating new approach to archaeology.)

To support more research like this, go to www.half-shekel.org or contact development@tmsifting.org for more information.

Jerusalem Day Activities

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Where will you be on Jerusalem Day?

Here are our plans. Make sure to stop by and say Hello!

21:00 (May 23rd – the night before) – Hebrew Lecture at Ohel Nechama by Zachi Dvira. 3 Shufan St. They have activities beginning at 19:55.

8:00 AM – tour of the Temple Mount. Please email development@tmsifting for more information.

ALL DAY!! We are talking 9AM to 9PM sharing some of our special finds and selling some of our amazing replicas in the Old City. Stop by and touch a piece of the Second Temple floor. Drop a shekel in our Tzedakkah box or buy your mom a replica coin as a belated Mother’s Day gift. We will be in the main square of the Jewish Quarter by the Moriah jewelry store.

 

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Reaching Our Goal!

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Shalom to all of our supporters,   

We did it! Despite the difficulties and obstacles, we managed to exceed our first target and raise over NIS 250,000! Our deep and heartfelt thanks go out to the 889 backers who immediately came forward to support our campaign and show the world that they care about the heritage of the Temple Mount.

We are thrilled by the broad support we have received from the general public and from the media that covered the issue and a special thanks goes out to Avri Gilad (an Israeli TV and radio top celebrity) whose viral video in support of our project brought us an additional 200 backers in this campaign. Your support enables us to continue the research on the artifacts from the Temple Mount until the end of this year!

We reached our goal so quickly, we are now able to go on to phase two! We are continuing to strive and reach funding sources for the continuation of our research in the years to come, the types of artifacts that do not yet have funding, and the publication of this research. The full study will yield many more discoveries about the artifacts we have recovered. This will be included in a series of volumes of scientific publications (the first 4 are planned for 2019), as well as a number of articles for the general public. Once we’ve funded the full research, we will also be able to resume the sifting work that has stopped.

GOAL 2: Fully Fund Our Research and Resume Sifting

We need about NIS 6.8 million ($1.8M). Since this is a significant amount, we are working to obtain the balance of the funding from several channels. Here is our plan on how to get it (with your help):

1) Several government offices are working on findings solutions for our funding needs though nothing is concrete yet and we still don’t have promises with specifics (We received pledges for full funding of the project and meetings were scheduled, but no decision has yet been made). We will update you once something has been officially announced.

2) Public support – so far we have raised NIS 250,000 with your help! We will continue to run the Headstart Campaign for our Israeli supporters, but we will also reopen our half-shekel.org platform. This will enable donors to give in dollars as well as have an option to give a tax-deductible donation in the US and UK. Please share our campaign on half-shekel.org with your friends who could not give in NIS.

3) Philanthropic donors – We have been promised $70,000 in donations so far and are working on applications for grants and matching campaigns.

We will update the text of the campaign pages to keep you apprised of the situation and we will post any important updates on the blog as well. This way, you can monitor our progress and keep track of the government’s promises.

Showing your support for our campaign has far-reaching effects.

So far, our campaign has been the catalyst for momentum in various processes within government institutions and also with donors from abroad. Many influential people (including the Prime Mininster’s Office) are following the public’s support for the campaign. The state’s obligation to protect its heritage can no longer be ignored because YOUR support has created a new discourse and standards that have never before existed.

Even more, your contribution and your caring has encouraged philanthropists to reach out to our project. This means that your donation is being matched many times over.

Israel Antiquities Authority director, Israel Hasson, said last week on the radio that he sees “great value in the current campaign which is bringing the public closer to this important cause.” Your support of our project and of this campaign is an act that indicates that the public is at the front of the struggle for the future of the protection of heritage and cultural values.

Giving to our campaign is almost like signing a petition for the protection of Temple Mount Heritage, and every name on the list, no matter the size of the donation, has a huge impact.

This is even more important in the wake of resolutions like that of UNESCO last October and as recently as this week on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. When the world tries to tell us that there is no Jewish or Christian connection to Jerusalem, or that there was never a Jewish Temple upon the Temple Mount, your voice in support of our archaeological research that provides evidence to contradict these outrageous resolutions is even more important. Your support shows the world that we will not stand for the rewriting of history, the ignorance of evidence and research, and the erasure of our heritage.

We cherish, appreciate, and thank each and every one of you. With great appreciation,

Gabriel Barkay, Zachi Dvira, and the TMSP Team

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