OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM (Jun. 7)
For the first time in 20 years, Jewish prayers were held today at the Wailing Wall in Old Jerusalem which was captured earlier in the day by Israeli troops and armor. The Army Chief Chaplain, Col. Shlomo Goren, brought a Torah Scroll to the Wailing Wall and led the prayer service. Dusty and begrimed Israeli soldiers took part with tears in their eyes. Under the 1948 armistice agreement, Jordan had agreed to permit access by Jews to the Wailing Wall but never implemented that part of the agreement.
“The Wall is ours.” the Chief Chaplain told the praying soldiers. “We shall never leave it. We make a vow never to leave it.” He then conducted Kaddish and a special Yizkor service for the Israelis who have been killed in the three days of war. Some of the soldiers stood with rifles at the ready during the service, watching for snipers.
Gen. Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister of Israel, told a press conference that the armed forces of Israel would never surrender the newly-liberated Old City of Jerusalem, where the Wailing Wall is located. “We have returned to Jerusalem never to part from her again.” he said. The General made clear that the status of Jerusalem was not negotiable.
Theodor Kollek, mayor of Israel’s capital, visited Mount Scopus, the site of the pre-independence Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University, which was cut off from Israel since Jordan seized the enclave and Old Jerusalem in the War of independence nearly 20 years ago. The enclave had been guarded by Israeli police contingents who were relieved by fortnightly convoys passing through Old Jerusalem with United Nations escorts. With the passage now free, Mayor Kollek visited the area.
He told newsmen that he did not intend to be mayor of any part of Jerusalem except that part for which he had been elected by the Jewish population. However, Jerusalem’s city council was busy planning services, such as road-clearing and water supplies, to the populate on of the Old City. There were not many residents left. The areas through which Mayor Kollek was driven on his visit to Mount Scopus had been deserted by its Arab residents.