Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016 | 2 a.m.
When fewer than 200 Israeli paratroopers ran up the Jordanian-controlled Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on June 6, 1967, during the Six-Day War, they did not know that they would be changing the face of history. But capturing Ammunition Hill, the fiercest and bloodiest battle that Israelis had faced in Jerusalem, was the key to liberating the city.
“The mission wasn’t to reach and liberate the Old City,” says liaison Yoel Rosby of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), who will speak in Las Vegas today about the organization’s restoration of Ammunition Hill. “It was one of survival … the path paved for the liberation of the city and the reunification of a nation with its soul — the Temple Mount,” he says.
The Jewish National Fund, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1901, is working with the Israeli government and local municipalities to preserve the battle’s rich history.
The Ammunition Hill initiative began about four years ago. The initiative contains three projects, including the tour of the battlefield, a commemoration for those who died and renovation of the museum to open on May 24.
Rosby says the museum, dedicated in 1970, almost closed about 10 years ago when the government lacked funding to maintain it when the visitor count dropped. That’s when the Jewish National Fund stepped in to help.
“It’s almost like if someone said let’s close the Gettysburg (memorials). No one’s going there,” Rosby says.
With the renovation of the museum, which began in April, Rosby is confident that it will attract more visitors and continue to inform people, especially youth, about the historic battle.
“The idea of the museum is not just to be stationary where you just sit and receive,” Rosby says. “It is supposed to be a live experience.”
The Israeli government will match the funds that the Jewish National Fund raises to complete the project.
Rosby, originally from Chicago, moved to Israel in 1998 and joined the JNF about two years ago to lead the Ammunition Hill initiative. Like his three brothers, he served in the Israel Defense Forces. He was in the search-and-rescue unit and then became a commander. He says it is his mission to continue serving Israel.
“I’m passionate about the state of Israel, and I’m not scared to show that passion,” Rosby says.
Shawn Willis, JNF’s Las Vegas director, says Rosby will be a great addition to the organization’s Am Yisrael Chai Speaker Series.
“I felt that Nevada would relate to him,” she says. “In any organization, it’s the people who make it, and I felt they would connect with him and his message.”
The series event, which will feature Rosby and other JNF partners, is not open to the public. For more information, contact Willis at [email protected] or 702-434-6505.