With the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War approaching, Christian Broadcasting Network and Fathom Events bring to theaters the docudrama “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” for a one-night theatrical screening nationwide Tuesday, May 23.
It is the compelling story of heroism and victory by a small group of Israeli paratroopers who—at a heavy cost of lives—managed to take back Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, then to radio their commander the message that this strategic and symbolic piece of real estate was “in our hands.”
“Most accounts of the Six-Day War are straight documentaries, and The Battle of Ammunition Hill is a sentence or two,” said Gordon Robertson, CEO of CBN and “In Our Hands” producer. “No film we know of actually recreates these pivotal scenes and events with such intense accuracy. For new generations of Jews and Christians, ‘In Our Hands’ is a must-see.”
Shot in Jerusalem at the actual battle sites, the film combines re-enactments with archival news footage plus emotional interviews with surviving Israel Defense Forces paratroopers—many of whom were mostly untested reservists and college students at the time of the war.
“In Our Hands” is the story not only of the survival of a brave band of paratroopers but of a people and its nation—Jews and the home they acquired in 1948, with establishment of the State of Israel, a result of the Allied victory in World War II and the aftermath of the Holocaust.
After centuries in exile, their early years in the region formerly known as Palestine were full of hope for the Jews. However, because of ongoing Arab-Israeli conflicts the Jews had been without access to their ancestral city.
With tensions heightened, Israel stood alone—and, in a conflict so brief it is known as the Six-Day War because it was fought June 5-10, 1967—Israel changed history. On June 11, a ceasefire was signed.
The film of the war’s battle for the Temple Mount captures the intensity of the trench warfare with dramatic moments in a conflict too often represented as a footnote in history books.
For example, an Israeli soldier delivers a baby for an Arab woman.
Another woman appears clutching an Israeli flag and urges paratroopers to raise it in victory.
In one amazing scene, viewers learn that religious Jews are fighting alongside secular Jews. Soldiers eventually reach the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall), the historic and remaining section of the Second Jewish Temple built by Herod the Great. The men who arrive there are greatly reduced in number as they have seen their fellow soldiers fall in battle during their winding journey to take control of the ancient city.
Many touch the wall in reverence due to its holiness for the Jewish people. A soldier suggests to his comrade that they pray. The second man admits that he does not know how to pray. The first man suggests they pray the Shema, a central prayer in the Jewish prayer book and one of the first taught to children. The secular Jew shyly admits he does not know even this common prayer. The religious Jew is able to teach this meaningful prayer to his fellow soldier who has risked his life without a full understanding of his people’s history or faith.
Other moving scenes involve interviews with survivors, now grandfathers for whom The Battle for Jerusalem was a defining period in their maturity as Jewish men.
Such interviews serve as a catharsis as well as proof of authenticity, important elements for Gordon Robertson, who first visited the Western Wall when he was eleven years old and has lost count of his number of trips made to Israel since then.
As a Christian who is passionate about Middle Eastern history and culture, Robertson has poured himself into this film project for years and hopes the turnout on May 23 will attract a commercial release by the History Channel or another network.
“As Christians, it documents a miraculous part of our history,” adds Robertson. “When they radioed back that the Temple Mount is ‘in our hands,’ they were reclaiming the area of Jerusalem which includes the Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, Via Dolorosa, etc.—sites that are sacred to Christians. Israel continues to protect these and make them available to Christian pilgrims. So it is our history too.”
Carolyn Curtis is a journalist and author in Fort Worth, Texas. Her latest book is Women and C.S. Lewis. Her email address is [email protected].