Shoshana Hager

They passed through a barbed-wire fence and entered an empty area when suddenly they were stopped by terrifying screams - they had entered a minefield

The tension and anxiety of the waiting period before the Six-Day War are vividly recalled by Shoshana Hager, who was then a sixteen-year-old girl.  Her family followed the orders of the civil defense authorities and stockpiled emergency food supplies, covered the windows with tape, and fortified the lower floors of their house in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood, not far from the border wall.  Municipal authorities distributed empty sacks to the residents, and the young girls and boys filled them with sand and positioned them around the houses. Shoshana Haber’s two older brothers were serving in the army, and she, her parents and younger brother stayed at her grandparent’s home. When the war siren sounded, people hurried to take shelter where they could, and when possible, together with other families.

They spent some of the time in the shelter and some in the small one-room apartment owned by her grandparents that they tried to protect with sandbags and other makeshift means, such as putting the refrigerator in front of the apartment door. Shoshana’s father served nearby in Civil Defense headquarters and he would come from time to time to check on the family. Her grandfather, a religious Jew, led the family in praying Psalms for the safety of the IDF soldiers fighting for the state. A few days later, Shoshana’s older brother, who was serving as a combat medic in Sinai, came to the apartment wearing a uniform stained with dried blood which frightened young Shoshana. He came for a short visit before continuing to join his unit near Ammunition Hill.

The family was glued to the radio, listening to the news and trying to understand how the war was progressing. On the fifth day of the war Shoshana Hager’s father came home and told them the news – the Western Wall was liberated, the Tomb of the Patriarchs was in our hands as was Rachel’s Tomb. The family members were overjoyed, they now could finally visit the holy places that they had heard and dreamed about.

A few days after the end of the war, Shoshana and her sister passed through the Mandelbaum Gate on their way to the Western Wall. They passed through a barbed-wire fence and entered an empty area when suddenly they were stopped by terrifying screams – they had entered a minefield. Four soldiers checked each step with metal rods clearing a way for them to leave the minefield, guiding the girls to walk only where the soldiers had walked. Finally Shoshana made it to the Old City, made her way through the alleys to the Western Wall, and prayed there. For many years afterwards, she went to the Western Wall for morning prayers.