REEL SCENES: In Our Hands: the Battle for Jerusalem



Using the Jewish lunar calendar, Wednesday, May 24, marked exactly 50 years since the ancient city of Jerusalem became unified under Jewish control because of the 1967 Six-Day War. The tiny state of Israel, teetering on extinction, fought four of its well-endowed Muslim neighboring states. The anniversary called for Christian Broadcast Network to produce a docu-drama, In our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem about the months leading up to war and the major battles.

The movie used professional Israeli actors in reenactments, archival clips, and interviews with living soldiers from the 55th Paratrooper’s Brigade. The paratroopers would later be the first to take the historic sections of Jerusalem which included the Temple Mount, Western Wall, and the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa.

The movie opened with an overview of Israel’s modern history and then the focus turned to the 1967 Six Day War.

As war loomed, Israel’s Prime Minister/Defense Minister Levi Eshkol responded with restraint to the barrage of threats from the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. The Israelis responded by booking flights out of Israel, using dark humor, the joke was, “The last one out be sure to turn off the lights,” according to the film.

“No recognition, no negotiation” was the Arab world’s united stand against Israel. Their leaders jointly said, “This will be a battle of annihilation. We will wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, and destroy Israel and its inhabitants.”

This period was called “The Waiting,” a time when rabbi’s consecrated city parks as potential cemeteries and citizens began stockpiling body bags.

Eshkol’s pre-war rallying speech stammered and was frail. The world heard weakness. Israel’s only ally, the French, broke away creating what became a false certainty of success for the Muslim countries surrounding Israel.

Egypt and Syrian planes and troops amassed for invasion next to Israel’s southern border. A featured young Israeli university student left his exams to train as an intelligence officer.  His superiors gave him two days to devise a pre-emptive strike. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) planes launched at breakfast for the bordering enemy plane base in Egypt, leaving only eight planes behind to protect Israel if failure was met. The IDF airforce returned that evening inexplicably having decimated the entire Egyptian and Syrian air force.

Later, the Jews would learn what author Sarah Rigler said was the Divine Hand of God. Two weeks prior, Egypt had replaced all its officers with ones unfamiliar with the terrain. Egypt rejected the warning of any immediate attack, calling all its top commanders to a party away from the border the night before the attack. Finally, the decoding officer used the wrong code when he detected Israel planes heading towards Egypt.

Once, the Jordanians lost Egyptian and Syrian air cover, the ground battle for the heart of Jerusalem began. One battle to conquer Jerusalem was known as Alley of Blood and it was graphically depicted. With minimum intelligence, but maximum commitment, Israeli soldiers deployed through Jerusalem’s ancient walled streets which they had never seen, inadvertently heading straight into a Jordanian stronghold. The IDF fought and claimed an incomprehensible, but bloody, victory.

A third battle called Ammunition Hill was graphically re-enacted. The movie portrayed the willingness of soldiers to sacrifice their lives to advance the mission. A turn in the battle occurred when two Israeli soldiers confiscated two tanks but discovered the long guns could not shoot at a steep enough angle to damage the Jordanian bunker on top of the hill. So, the two soldiers stood in the tanks and fought with their Uzis. They learned later the Jordanians had seen the two tank guns moving and fled in fear.

In six days, the 55th elite paratroopers reached the Temple Mount entering through the Lion Gate. No one had conquered the city through the east since King David, 2000 years prior. The commanding general responded, “So it will be the second time and the last one.”

Gordon Robertson, Christian Broadcast Network’s CEO addressed the audience at the close of the film. He noted the Six Day War finally unified Jerusalem under Jewish control, but it would not end there. Though the Jews’ cry is, “Forever,” he quoted Zechariah 12:3: “I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all peoples around, and all who lift it will be secretly injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.” The story is not over.

To this day, only two Muslim nations have signed peace treaties with Israel: Egypt and Jordan, and they are the only two who will allow direct flights to Israel. All other neighboring countries deny entry if the traveler’s passport is stamped by Israel.

None of these Muslim countries allow churches or synagogues to exist. Although both, as well as mosques, are found throughout Israel. Israel prints highway signs in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Muslims serve in the Israel government.

According to the The Jerusalem Post, nearly 60 percent of the world’s Jewish population lives in Israel, comprising almost 80 percent of Israel’s citizenry, a percentage that continues to grow. Nineteen percent of the population is Muslim. Less than 2% are Christian and other minorities.

By popular demand, alternative cinematic promoter, Fathom Events, will have a second showing of the CBN’s docu-drama “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem.” The Mall in El Centro will have a second showing Thursday, June 1,  at 7:00 p.m.