On June 7, 1967 - the 28th of Iyar, 5727, exactly 38 years ago - an IDF paratroopers force led by the late Col. Motta Gur entered the Temple Mount, via Lions Gate on the eastern side, bringing the holy site under Jewish sovereignty for the first time in some 1,850 years. "Har HaBayit b'yadeinu! - The Temple Mount is in our hands!" Gur announced, in what was to become a famous and historic declaration.
To hear the historic declaration [in Hebrew], preceded by army commands and the sounds of battle, click here. "Har HaBayit b'yadeinu! - The Temple Mount is in our hands!" can be heard at 3:33 minutes into the recording. The shofar blasts by Rabbi Shlomo Goren can be heard at 5:40, as Motta Gur begins describing his feelings and the first Jewish entry to a radio reporter. Soldiers led by Rabbi Goren reciting the She'hecheyanu blessing can be heard at 7:35. Rabbi Goren recites the memorial prayer for the soldiers who fell at 8:50.
Where were you when Jerusalem was liberated? Arutz-7 asked this question of some leading personalities, and received some fascinating responses:
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky: "I was then a soldier in the Gadna (Youth Corps) division of the IDF, digging trenches as a defense line for the northern communities. The shift from the sensation of carrying out defensive actions to the conquest of Jerusalem was just tremendous."
Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa: "I was the last Jew to leave the Old City - wounded, on a stretcher, to Jordanian captivity. In 1967, when the war broke out, I requested of Gen. Rafael Vardi that if Jerusalem is re-conquered, I would like to be the first citizen to return to it. As soon as they conquered the city, Gen. Vardi sent a jeep to the City Hall where I was at the time, and it brought me to the Old City. On the radio in the jeep I heard the recording of Motta Gur saying 'The Temple Mount is in our hands!', and then we entered the Old City, where I met my father-and-teacher the Nazir [Rabbi David Cohen] and my teacher Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, who had entered a few minutes before me."
Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra: "I was fighting in the Golan Heights at the time, and the atmosphere was one of difficult combat. Suddenly, we heard a rumor that we had conquered the Temple Mount; no one could believe it - from where we were, it seemed so far away."
Former Justice Uri Shtruzman: "I was at home with my wife, and I experienced the excitement that all of Israel felt in my own home."
MK Uri Ariel: "We were in the shelter in my kibbutz, Tirat Tzvi [in the northern Jordan Valley], for fear of an enemy bombardment. One of the people with us in the shelter had a transistor radio, something very rare then, and we suddenly heard Motta Gur announcing, 'The Temple Mount is in our hands!' The excitement was tremendous. It's hard to measure the joy that we and the adults felt."
Singer Shuli Natan: "In 1967, I was a teacher-soldier, and shortly before the war began, they sent me to sing in front of soldiers in Be'er Sheva. When the war broke out, I broke the orders telling me to stay in Be'er Sheva, and I went down to Sinai with a supply truck, to a place called Jabel [Mt.] Livni. On Wednesday, when Mota Gur announced, 'The Temple Mount is in our hands!', I was with a group of armored division soldiers headed by Arik Sharon who had just returned from the battlefield. Their faces were so dust-filled that we couldn't identify them, but as soon as they heard Motta Gur's cry, they were so excited that they took a board, put it on top of one of the drafted cars, and I stood on it and started singing 'Jerusalem of Gold' [which had just been publicized several weeks before]. Singing that song on the Sinai battlefield is something I will never forget."
Prof. Shalom Rosenberg: "I was in Argentina then, and the concern for the State of Israel encompassed the entire Jewish community there. There was great tension and fear, and suddenly we hear, 'The Temple Mount is in our hands!' I think that the so-great excitement that we felt then was not only for the conquest of Jerusalem but also because of the great salvation of all of Israel, and the amazing transformation from subjugation to redemption."
MK Rabbi Yitzchak Levy: "When Motta Gur made his famous announcement, I was in a hesder yeshiva just after having completed basic training, in the beginning of advanced training. I was guarding the reactor in Nachal Sorek at the time, and it was there that I heard of the liberation of the Kotel (Western Wall). The excitement and joy was tremendous, we felt a great need to praise and thank G-d, and of course we asked to be let off so that we could visit the Kotel. But they couldn't release everyone at once, so they did two at a time. My turn to leave was on the day after the Shavuot holiday [six days after the liberation]. My feeling then, my first visit to the Kotel, is hard to describe. There were thousands of people, streams of people - an amazing spiritual experience."