Gil Hovav

The days before the war are etched in his memory – days of emergency and tension

Gil Hovav comes from a veteran Jerusalem family. At the time of the war he was five years old and lived in the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood. The days of crisis and tension before the war are etched in his memory. A tank was stationed on his street and there was an army base in the grove behind the house.

When the war broke out and the alarm was sounded, Hovav was in kindergarten. The teachers gathered the children together and led them into the bomb shelter in one of the teachers’ houses. Hovav ran home the first chance he had. His house was locked and he went downstairs to the first floor, to his uncle’s apartment, and from there to the bomb shelter where his mother was breathlessly waiting for him. The family spent the nights in the shelter and in moments of temporary calm the Hovav family would go to the grocery shop, to get some air.  In spite of his young age, Hovav still remembers the anxiety on the grown-ups’ faces, the fear of what the day would bring.

Before the war, children used to pick through the slits of Mandelbaum Gate trying to catch a view of the Jordanian part of the city. Two days after the war this very gate was opened wide and a great flow of people poured into the eastern side of the city.

Despite the great joy, there was also destruction, fear and poverty among the sights. This mixture of happiness and sadness, of joy and fear, left a mark on Hovav until today.