When one thinks about the Six-Day War and the Unification of Jerusalem, the first picture that automatically comes to mind is the iconic picture of the paratroopers standing in front of the Western Wall, taken by David Rubinger.
This emotional photograph, showing the paratroopers thrillingly standing at the Western Wall after years during which this part of Jerusalem was under the control of the Jordanians, is not the first documentation of the entry of Israeli soldiers to the Temple Mount complex. Not many know that the first pictures of Israeli soldiers entering the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War were taken by Amos Zuker, who served at the time as an army photographer for the military magazine “Bamahane,” and joined the paratroopers under Motta Gur, the general who broke through the Lions’ Gate. He photographed the picture shown above of the entry of Israeli soldiers to the Temple Mount complex.
Zuker, who was a civilian at the time the war broke out, chose to volunteer to serve in order to help in the war effort and was drafted in the role as photographer for the military magazine. “I remember that it was a crazy point in history; and therefore, as a photographer, I was not given too much information,” he tells, “I did not know Jerusalem at all and I got lost, so I tried to stay with my unit, and that is how I was among the first group of soldiers that entered the Old City.”
About the moment of entry to the Temple Mount, he recalls, “We were a group of 10-15 soldiers. We understood that we were part of an historic event, and we were very excited.” The group entered the Temple Mount through the Lions’ Gate. “The compound was empty,” tells Zuker, “The only one we saw there was an old Palestinian who showed us how to climb the wall to the top in order to raise the Israeli flag.”
Zuker remembers that, as opposed to the digital cameras of today which allow taking hundreds and even thousands of pictures, the camera before the digital age used film which needed to be changed. “I had a roll of 36 pictures and I understood that I would not have time to load a new roll, therefore I had to think about the pictures I took (...) I took pictures during the course of the entire journey actually - from the Rockefeller Museum, through the Lions’ Gate and the entry to the Dome of the Rock and afterwards the descent to the Western Wall, and the ascent of the soldiers on the wall in order to fly the flag.”
According to Zuker, the most important picture was the picture of the Western Wall, when the soldiers left from the Mughrabi Gate and saw the Western Wall on the right side. “This was an extraordinary experience - the first glimpse of the Western Wall - even for me, as a non-religious person,” he tells.
Photographs by Amos Zuker and many other photographers were presented in the exhibition “The Mount - A Photographic Journey to the Temple Mount: 1839-2019” The exhibition closed on February 28, 2020.
Tour, “Temple Mount - an Up Close Look”, based on the exhibit. For additional details, click here >>
Taped lectures on the topic of the Temple Mount - from the seminar “Across from the Mount” centering on the exhibition “The Mount”. To view, click here >>