Archaeologists find evidence of Temple Mount gun battle in 1967

9mm bullets used by the Uzi sub-machine gun, found as a part of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. (Photo: Tal Rogovski)

New findings discovered in archaeological work in the Old City point to a possible battle or at least exchange of gunfire on the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War in 1967.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project presented some of its findings connected to the Six-Day War in honor of the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification, which was yesterday. The findings include machine gun magazines, bullets, Jordanian coins, and uniform badges, which the project claims, “may be related to the IDF’s arrival at the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War.”

These remnants were gleaned from 400 truckloads of earth that were illegally removed in 1999 by the Islamic Waqf which administers the holy site, during renovations of the Solomon’s Stables area. The project, under the umbrella of Bar-Ilan University with the assistance of the National Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation, is directed by Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira (Zweig)

During the war, Israel positioned its soldiers in such a way that little damage if any would be done to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is believed that few Israeli bullets or shellings hit the Temple Mount during the war.

Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, who was with the paratroopers who entered the Old City through Lion’s Gate, told researchers with the sifting project: “As we entered the gate into the Temple Mount, paratroopers shot bursts of fire into the air to intimidate [the Jordanians], but Motta Gur immediately gave his famous order, ‘Cease fire! All forces cease fire! A holy place, do not shoot. The Temple Mount is in our hands.’”

Researchers also spoke with a sniper in the Jerusalem Brigade who entered the Old City through Dung Gate.

“I entered the gate and ascended the Temple Mount. It was easy to see how the Jordanians used the Temple Mount as a military fortification,” Yaakov Goldmine recalled. “In spite of that, our orders were not to shoot at the Old City with heavy weaponry or bomb it from the air. The neutralization of the Jordanian positions was done by the infantry forces, and it cost us lives.”