The Jerusalem Brigade

The conquest of Armon Ha'natziv neighborhood (The Governor's Palace):

In the "municipal borderline", the Governor's Palace area was demilitarized and divided between Israel, the UN, and Jordan. Up until 1967, The Jordanian area sprawled out by the south-east side of the palace, at the bottom of the mount – the Jordanian the "naknik" post- and a little south to that, the Arab village Tzur Baher- the "Pa'amon" post.

The IDF conquest of the Governor's Palace could have brought to a disconnection of the mount through the back, between Hebron and the Shomron and the western bank. The establishment of the Arab army in the palace could have begun the path to action in the southern sector of the city and grant validity to the threat on Be'er Sheva from mount Hebron.

On the morning of June 5th 1967, at about 10:00 o'clock, fire was opened toward the Israeli posts in Jerusalem, which quickly spread along the Jordanian border. The Harel tank Brigade, which was staying in Ramla, was brought up to Jerusalem urgently. Also the paratroopers, brigade number 55, which was targeted for a parachuting mission in El-Arish in Sinai, were called up to Jerusalem. The forces began to arrive in the city in the afternoon. On the eve of the first day of the war, the plan to conquer the Governor's Palace was approved. The mission was imposed on the only available force in Jerusalem at the time- the Jerusalem brigade. The brigade was summoned to the Governor's Palace area. The brigade commander, Eliezer Amitai, and the regiment commander, Asher Dreizen, arrived at the learning ranch, close to the Palace, and settled there, until the green light was given.

At 14:10 a message came from the Brigade commander that a Jordanian battalion had captured the Governor's Palace and they were approaching the learning ranch. In a short time the brigade was ready for an attack and at 14:25 the General Staff gave the green light to the Jerusalem Brigade to attack the Palace. They also informed that two of the IAF planes had bombed the Radar Hill and were flying toward the Governor's Palace to aid the attack.

The second company from Asher Dreizen's battalion was the first to arrive. Its target was to capture the learning ranch. The company soldiers arrived on buses, in the midst of a shelling on the ranch; a short while after the Governor's Palace had been conquered by the Jordanians. The men jumped from the buses and leapt between the trees in the grove of the ranch.

At 15:10 the tanks started their engines, although only three moved from their spot. The other two sank deep in the mud of Kibbutz Ramat Rahel. The Israeli force began to move from the learning ranch. After the tanks came the Jerusalem commando unit.

The leading tank gored the gate and broke into the Palace yard. The reinforced row followed closely.

The legionnaire company was shocked to see the line, which had already been hit by the planes' shelling, enter the Palace. Bodies and burning jeeps were scattered around the yard. At the sight of the tanks, the enemy soldiers in the yard turned to their remaining recoilless gun jeeps. Lieutenant Colonel Asher driezen noticed them from the command halftrack. He gripped the machine gun in the halftrack, shot the legionnaires and inflamed three recoilless gun jeeps. At that moment a burst of bullets came through the side of the halftrack. A bullet hit the battalion commander in his arm. The source of the fire was revealed- a small bunker at the edge of the yard. Dreizen, in spite of the paralysis of his arm, aimed the machine gun toward the bunker. A long burst- and the bunker was silenced. The legionnaires fled into the grove. The force arrived to the "antenna hill" and captured it without a battle. Here they stopped, and at that time the commando unit commander, major Rossi Langotzki, blew up the gate of the palace and broke inside. The force began to "purify" the building, when, suddenly, from an inside room, a frightened cry in English "don't shoot!" was heard.

In this room were thirty civilians, employees of the UN observers, as well as women and children. They shut themselves in the room when the legion conquered the palace, two hours beforehand.

One of the soldiers, Zerach Epstein, entered the grove alone and began to purify the posts. "They shot at me from a dugout," recalls Epstein, "and I threw a grenade and ran forward. Suddenly, I found myself alone between the trees… I recognized a Jordanian soldier. He was standing two meters away from me and he recognized me, as well. At that second we both reached for the trigger, I preceded him." When he came to the end of the grove, the fire stopped. Epstein received a medal for his private purification act.

25 minutes after the beginning of the attack, the brigade commander, Amitai, reported: "the Governor's Palace is in our hands". Permission to move forward was granted.

The Sausage Post:

The Sausage Post controlled the Palace and "Learning Ranch" area. The post was built on the southern side of the Palace on an elevated extension that was eight hundred meters long and shaped like a rounded sausage. The Jordanian legion took advantage of the Sausage Post's topographical advantage- it overlooked the No Man's Land area- and built dozens of bunkers, trenches, posts, and fortifications along it. Only one company guarded the post, approximately sixty Jordanian soldiers. The General Staff authorized the attack on the Sausage Post. At around 16:00, a command was transmitted to Asher Driezen, who sent a soldier to promote the commando unit that was staying at the Learning Ranch to storm the Sausage Post.

Immediately, the commando soldiers, divided into small groups, emerged under cover of machine guns and tanks and began to cut the fences dividing the Palace and the post.

The moment the fences were cut, the great run from the Antenna to the Sausage post began, from trench to trench and bunker to bunker. They were stoned with hand grenades. The advance guard point kept pushing forward and behind them the heavier rearguard thoroughly completed the labor. Within an hour, the Israeli fire defeated most of the surprised legionnaires.

At 16:30 the battalion commander reported: "the sausage is in our hands". This victory was critical for the moral of the Jerusalem brigade, inasmuch as it was the first significant battle that the brigade fought in after nineteen years and the first clash with the Jordanian army which was considered since the war of independence the most well trained and excellent Arab army.

At the end of the conquest, the Israeli soldiers began to fire in the direction of the Bell Post and move toward the village of Tzur Baher.

The Bell Post:

The Bell Post controlled the area from Kibbutz Ramat Rahel until the main Jerusalem-Bethlehem highway.

Driezen, the battalion commander, intended to gather the forces that had conquered the Sausage Post, but when the row passed by the Sausage it became clear that the soldiers were scattered around the entire post, tired and lacking ammunition, and it would be a while until they would be gathered and organized to continue the battle. Therefore, he continued with the "row", which included three tanks, four halftracks, and one jeep. They got on the curved road that leads from the Sausage Post through the village of Tzur Baher to Bethlehem. There, the row was hit with mortars and one of the tanks swerved off the road into the wadi. The soldiers were all injured. The two remaining tanks continued to lead the miniscule convoy to the back opening of the Bell Post. When the row passed through Tzur Baher, it struck the village with fire.

When they approached the Bell Post, the two tanks took posts and began to shoot cannons in the direction of the bunkers. The battalion commander arrived shortly after. The cleansing operation went smoothly and the legionnaires, who were amazed to see the Israeli forces at the rear end of the post, retreated to posts on the edge of the hill. Driezen and his men quickly got to the heart of the post- the command bunker on the summit of the hill. The bunker was attacked with grenades and conquered. At that point, the force divided into two. In command of the first half was the battalion commander, and in command of the other- the commando unit commander. They raided the two connecting trenches, which spread from the summit down the slope of the hill. Post after post was conquered.

At this stage, Asher Dreizen, the battalion commander, was injured once again- this time in his arm. He was delayed due to his injury and so noticed that but for a small group of soldiers, he had no men with him. In addition, two of the commando unit's halftracks had not arrived. He climbed back up to the summit of the hill, went out to the road, passed by the two tanks that were still showering the enemy with fire from their machineguns, and turned to Tzur Baher. There he found the two halftracks which had crashed into a house. The soldiers, who didn't know where to turn, took up posts around the halftracks and waited. Driezen made them run back to the post, divided them between the two trenches and they resumed the cleansing.

Total darkness was upon them. The soldiers progressed carefully, and post after post was checked and found empty.

More small groups of soldiers returned to report that the posts were empty. At that moment, a call for the battalion commander was heard on the wireless. The speaker was the brigade commander: "Complete the post conquest immediately, Gidon's men are advancing toward you from Ramat Rachel. Be careful not to open fire on them." Suddenly, the sound of a salvo of shots was heard from the bottom trench. Dreizen, who imagined that his men were shooting at the substitute force, burst out of the bunker and shouted: "I said Don't Shoot!" His words stuck in his throat. Opposite him, from a nearby dugout, seven legionnaires burst forth with their weapons spitting fire.

These were the remaining defenders of the post that had hid beforehand in a side trench and now attacked the command bunker. Their fire injured an officer from Dreizen's force and a tank commander. The battalion commander was injured a third time- again in his arm. Yet this time it was his other arm.

This sudden battle lasted only a minute. After it there was nothing but absolute silence that was breached by the cries of the rest of the force who came running to the command bunker after hearing the shots. The force that conquered the Bell Post included only twenty soldiers, six of which were now injured. The substitute force, that was forced to cross many barbed wire fences and mines, arrived from Ramat Rahel. It was only after midnight, when they gathered in the Governor's Palace area, that the brigade commander, Eliezer Amitai, gave an explicit command to Asher Dreizen to evacuate himself to the hospital.

The battle at Abu-Tor:

Michael Pikes' battalion from the Jerusalem Brigade was supposed to conquer the Sheik Abad El-Aziz, Nebi Samuel, and Haradar Hill area, but Uzi Narkiss, GOC of Central Command, directed the 'Harel' Brigade there instead. Old Jerusalem was already almost surrounded, and with the conquest of Abu-Tor the siege of the old city was completed. There was a concern that there would be a cease-fire before the old city was conquered, and so Narkiss decided to complete the siege with the only force that was available- Micha Pikes' reserve battalion. Their posts were taken over by another battalion, and they returned to Jerusalem by foot thorough the Ein-Karem neighborhood. On Tuesday afternoon, July 6th 1967, the battalion was given the command to conquer the Arab Abu-Tor. The battalion was put on buses and driven to its origin posts in the Baka neighborhood.

The deployment took a very long time and the attack began late. In Abu-Tor there was an Arab post opposite each Israeli one. From south to north there were, on the Jordanian side, the "Lulav Post", the "Crown House Post", the "Lion Post", the "Platoon House" and the "Yellow Shutters House". Companies C and D moved north on Derech Hebron toward their origin post by the governmental print house. Company B was supposed to arrive at the Israeli "Lion Post" in the center of the zone, and company A was supposed to attack the "Lulav Post" from the south. The advance guard platoon from company D, which arrived at their post close to the governmental print house, were greeted with a shelling and injured. They retreated for reorganization, thus causing further delay. When the shooting first began, the Arab civilians shut themselves in their houses, and during the Israeli attack most of the Abu-Tor residents fled from the neighborhood.

Company B stormed the Jordanian "Lion Post". After the explosives that were planted destroyed the upper floor, the company was able to conquer the post. Micha Pikes, the battalion commander, joined the forces operating in the zone center.

Company A, which was operating in south Abu-Tor, created a smoke screen down the hillside and was assisted by Jerusalem Brigade commando unit that had already conquered the Governor's Palace. They directed tanks toward the Jordanian "Lulav Post". The company quickly crossed the smoky area, conquered the "Lulav Post" and continued north to conquer the "Crown House Post". On its way, the company was stopped because of fire from a Jordanian sniper, killing five of the company's men. After eliminating the sniper with a grenade, the company continued and conquered the "Crown House Post".

Company C, which was operating in the center of the zone, left the governmental print house area, crossed Ein-Rogel Road, and arrived at the shelter opposite the "Platoon House". It was able to breach three barbed wire fences, reach the platoon house and conquer it. Company D, which was operating in north Abu-Tor, recovered from the bombing and moved toward the "Yellow Shutter House". On its way it suffered heavy fire from the Jordanian posts on Mount Zion. It was only able to cross the open territory under cover of smoke grenades and when the company reached the Yellow Shutter Houses, it conquered it. The battalion commander, Pikes, that had joined and followed Company B, entered territory that had not been cleansed by the Company- who had hurried across the open territory- and in a face to face battle with the legionnaires. He was killed.

After the conquest of the hill, the Jordanians opened fire toward the posts with artillery. During the direct bombing the battalion had many injured men. Until 00:18, all of the Jordanian Abu-Tor was in Pikes' battalion's hands. At the time of the conquest the battalion had 17 dead, most of them killed by snipers. After Abu-Tor was conquered, the siege of the old city was completed and the next day it was in the hands of the IDF.

The Jerusalem Brigade went on towards Bethlehem, Hebron and ultimately joined our forces in the south.