I sat beside a commuter on the light rail as we climbed the track to Ammunition Hill. Was he Jewish? No! A Palestinian activist who travels to a different country each month to march for peace. “Standing Together” – that’s what the writing means in Arabic and Hebrew.
Ammunition Hill was critical in the victory for the Battle of Jerusalem in 1967. Inside the Remembrance Hall containing the photos of soldiers killed in the fight, we met two Jewish men. One, a real estate agent from Rose Bay Sydney and his friend from Jerusalem, the commander of a paratrooper regiment who fought in that famous battle. He pointed to photos of two young soldiers killed in the fight. His voice couldn’t hide the emotion.
“Join us,” he said. We gladly followed him through the well-preserved trenches as he explained the strategies of the Jordanians who were fully entrenched on this strategic location. The assault by Israeli forces to take the Hill was nothing short of a miracle.
Then, the surprise – he knew our good friend and Israeli guide, who has cared for us on three visits. “We’re good mates,” he said. Next – we’re reunited by the legendary commander’s mobile with Eilon.
A hot twenty-minute walk finished with an expensive coffee and copious glasses of iced water at the American Colony Hotel. Thence into the bowels of the Old City - Zedekiah’s cave, a cool, ancient quarry dating back to the time of King Solomon, near the Damascus gate; reaching four blocks under the historic streets and structures of the Holy City.
Another day of surprises – meeting the famous, and exploring the wonders of the Old City.