National Geographic : 1967 Dec
Eyewitness to War in the Holy Land Article and photographs by CHARLES HARBUTT, Magnum THE AUTO RENTAL CLERK at the Tel Aviv air port summed up the delicate state of international affairs with wry Israeli humor when I asked for a car. "Certainly," he said. "Compact-or armored?" It was late May, 1967. I had just returned to Israel after working for a month in Jordan, and my NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC assignment was certainly anything but warlike: the photographic coverage for "Where Jesus Walked," by Howard La Fay (page 739). On May 19 the United Nations had begun to withdraw its peace-keeping troops from the Gaza Strip at the request of the Egyptian Government, and three days later the Egyptians had blockaded the Strait of Tiran (map, page 785). But one becomes accustomed to such ominous signs in the Middle East. Despite the tension in the air, I had no suspicion that I was about to be swept up in six of the most violent days in the history of the Holy Land. In Tel Aviv the civilian population was beginning to mobilize in its own way. Go-go girls at a discotheque gave a party to encourage blood donations. Teen-agers too young to serve at the front volunteered for civilian jobs soldiers had vacated. Women baked cakes for the troops. Storekeepers taped their windows against shattering. I watched one man building an antishrapnel wall in front of his apartment house. "Iputitup;Itakeitdown.Iputitup;Itakeitdown," Knocked out by Jordanian fire, an Israeli tank lies beside the leafy garden revered as Gethsemane, where Christ was betrayed. Church of All Nations glitters be low the Mount of Olives. Beyond rises the modern Hotel Intercontinental. The tank saw action during the battle for Jerusalem. Victorious Israelis placed a wreath on the shattered vehicle as a memorial to comrades who fell during the first hours of last spring's brief but bitter war. ,01 EKTACHROME© N.G.S.