Shimon Yitzhak (Schitz) who served in the Jerusalem Brigade in June 1967, and who, according to recent studies, was the first IDF soldier to enter the Temple Mount compound during the Six-Day War, last week ascended the mountain for the first time in 55 years. He was accompanied by guides from the Beyadenu group, which is named after the immortal words of Mordechai “Motta” Gur: Har HaBayit BeYadeinu (The Temple Mount is in our hands).
Here’s the thing, though: for decades, the veterans of the Jerusalem Brigade have complained that they were jilted by Motta Gur, who commanded the Paratroopers Brigade. They argued that they had a much better knowledge of Jerusalem and had they not been skipped in favor of the paratroopers, fewer soldiers would have died. Now the group that named itself after the unforgettable battle cry of the legendary paratrooper, Gur, is giving the credit to the guy from the other brigade.
During the visit, Yitzhak told his side of the story: “At one point of that day, I don’t remember exactly when, I was running to the Kotel and I missed a small doorway that led down to the Western Wall. This was a narrow alleyway with a door and stairs, and what I saw in front of me was the open Mughrabi Gate. I ran and went in, I passed the Mughrabi Gate, I was on the Temple Mount.
“There was no living soul around. First thing, I ran to the Dome of the Rock. I made a mistake and entered both the dome and the cave under the Foundation Stone, and I was all alone. Without a single living soul, didn’t see any Arab, didn’t see anyone. I ran back, paused to look at Al-Aqsa, and went down to the Kotel which was already full of soldiers.”
Yitzhak also noted that for many years he thought that the paratroopers’ brigade had broken into the Temple Mount before him, but in recent years, following new photographs, he realized that he had probably been one of the first to enter the Temple Mount, if not the first: “There’s a picture of three guys that ran off to take pictures, to show the battles in Jerusalem, and they took pictures of the soldiers by the Kotel. On the 50th anniversary, the photographer took the pictures out of the attic and gave them to a close relative to reveal the identity of the soldiers photographed. We see clearly that they were not paratroopers, but rather belonged to Company B in the 163rd Battalion of the Jerusalem Brigade, and this was posted on Facebook.”