Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ammunition Hill - גבעת התחמושת

Performer: The Central Command Variety Ensemble
Year Released: 1968

Credits: words by Yoram Taharlev; music by Yair Rosenblum

Comments: This song celebrates a grueling battle that was waged at the site of a police station built by the British in northern Jerusalem on a site called "Ammunition Hill". During the 1948 War of Independence, the Arab Legion conquered sections of northern Jerusalem which resulted in the creation of an Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus which was cut off from the rest of Israeli Jerusalem. Ammunition Hill became one of the Jordanians' fortified positions preventing the two segments from being united. During the 1967 Six-Day war, on June 6th, Israeli paratroopers were sent to capture the position but had received erronious information seriously underestimating the strenth of the Jordanian force at the position. Made up of bunkers and trenches the paratroopers fought a tough battle in which they conquered the position, enabling Israeli forces to liberate the Old City, though the force lost 37 soldiers.

Ammunition Hill (Giv'at Ha'Takhmoshet)

"It was then the morning of the second day of the war in Jerusalem. The horizon paled in the east. We were at the climax of the battle on Ammunition Hill. We'd been fighting there for three hours. A fierce battle was under way. Fatal. The Jordanians fought stubbornly. It was a position fortified in an exceptional manner. At a certain point in the fight there remained next to me only four soldiers. We went up there with a force of two platoons. I didn't know where the others were because the connection with Dudik, the platoon commander, was cut off still at the beginning of the battle. At that moment I thought that everyone had been killed."

At two, two-thirty
We entered through the stoney terrain
To the field of fire and mines
Of Ammunition Hill

Against bunkers which were fortified
And 120mm mortars
A hundred and some boys
On Ammunition Hill

The pillar of dawn had not yet risen
Half a platoon lay in blood
But we were already there at least
On Ammunition Hill

Among the walls and the mines
We left only the medics
And we ran ahead without our senses
Towards Ammunition Hill

"At that same moment a grenade was thrown from outside. Miraculously we weren't hit. I was afraid the Jordanians would throw more grenades. Someone had to run from above and cover. I didn't have time to ask who would volunteer. I sent Eitan. Eitan didn't hesitate for a moment. He climbed up and began to fire his machine gun. Sometimes he would overtake me and I'd have to yell to him to remain in line with me. That's how we crossed some 30 meters. Eitan would cover from above and we would clear the bunkers from within, until he was hit in the head and fell inside."

We went down into the trenches
Into the pits and channels
And towards the death in the tunnels
Of Ammunition Hill

And no one asked where to
Whoever went first fell
One needed lots of luck
On Ammunition Hill

Whoever fell was dragged to the back
In order not to disrupt the movement forward
Until fell the next in line
On Ammunition Hill

Perhaps we were lions
But whoever wanted still to live
Should not have been
On Ammunition Hill

"We decided to try blowing up their bunker with a bazooka. The bazooka made a few scratches in the concrete. We decided to try with explosive material. I waited above them until the guy came back with the explosives. He would throw me package after package, and I would lay them one by one at the entrance of their bunker. They had a system of their own: first they threw a grenade, afterwards they fired a volley, and then they rested. Between volley and grenade, I would approach the entrance of their bunker and place the explosives. I triggered the explosives and moved away as far as I could. I had four meters in which to move because also behind me were [Arab] Legionnaires. I don't know why I received a commendation, I simply wanted to get home safely."

At seven, seven-twenty
To the police school
Were gathered all those who remained
From Ammunition Hill

Smoke arose from the hill
The sun in the east rose higher
We returned to the city, seven
From Ammunition Hill

We returned to the city, seven
Smoke arose from the hill
The sun in the east rose higher
On Ammunition Hill

On fortified bunkers
And on our brothers, men
Who remained there aged 20
On Ammunition Hill

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