National Geographic : 1967 Dec
On the Jordanian side of the Mandelbaum Gate I met an Israeli officer who was already helping to build a memorial to his fallen comrades-a stone cairn with smashed weapons, topped by a bullet-pierced helmet. "Hussein's army fought the best and hardest of all the Arab forces," he told me. "The fighting here wasn't house-to-house, but room-to-room. If I had my way, I'd build a memorial to them as well." Over the next few days I wandered through Jerusa lem-as Israeli authorities and sporadic sniper fire allowed-revisiting the holy places I had so recently photographed, to see how they fared in the brief war. Once I parked beside a battered Israeli tank near the Mount of Olives (pages 782-3), stepped past some grenades and piles of cartridges, and walked up the steep hill in front of St. Stephen's Gate, the main point of entry for the Israelis into the walled Old City. I walked on across the mosque compound of the Haram esh Sharif, past the jewel-like Dome of the Rock with its sparkling tiles and golden roof (opposite, lower). Only one pane of glass had been broken, to ad mit Israeli troops searching for snipers. The Aksa Mosque nearby had been garrisoned by Jordanians, yet stood undamaged except for a shattered wooden door. A Soldier Weeps by the Wailing Wall Following the route of the victorious troops, I walked through a narrow gate, down a flight of steps, and there it was-the Wailing Wall. A soldier handed me a yarmulke, the skullcap worn by Jews as a sign of reverence, and I walked in amid worshiping soldiers, many still carrying guns. This wall contains several rows of huge stone blocks-part of a wall that surrounded Herod's Tem ple, built just before the time of Christ on the site of Solomon's Temple. Nebuchadnezzar razed the earlier structure in 586 B.C. Herod's Temple was leveled by the Romans in A.D. 70. From then until now, this hal lowed place had not been in Jewish hands. As I stood there, a stubby, bearded soldier reached out, touched the Wall, and was shaken by deep sobs (page 792). He wept tears not only of triumph but of the traditional sorrow of all Jews over the destruction of the Temple. The emotion was so palpable that I, who shared neither their triumph nor their sorrow, could feel my own eyes filling with tears. I visited the shell-damaged Church of St. Anne near the Pools of Bethesda, where Christ performed one of his healing miracles. A live shell rested in front of the main altar. As I stepped out of the compound onto the Via Dolorosa, a bullet cracked down the street, chipping into the stone a few feet away. Abruptly I realized I was out after the 3 p.m. curfew on a street filled with snipers; an Israeli patrol had fired at me. I took off my campaign hat and edged to the door. Waving the hat, I yelled, "I'm press; I'm coming out. O.K.?" "You're a fool, but come ahead," was the response. 790 Artillery shells shred the sky and rain down on Jerusalem's eastern outskirts. Ex plosions silhouette the tower of the Augusta Victoria Hospital at left and the bell tower of the Russian Orthodox convent, right.