June 07, 2007

Three paratroopers

One of my most favorite photos revisited 40 years later. Via In Context:


JERUSALEM: It's an image etched in history — an iconic photo that captured Israel in its most triumphant moment.

Three young, battle-worn faces gazing up in wonder at the Western Wall, moments after capturing Judaism's holiest site on June 7, 1967.

The three paratroopers — Zion Karasanti, Yitzhak Yifat and Haim Oshri — became famous as symbols of that victory before drifting back into anonymity. Forty years later, they recalled the instant that changed their lives and the life of their country.

"It was an uplifting moment, a real spiritual experience," said Karasanti, 64. "My heart was beating, there were soldiers crying, just staring at the stones .... the wall was so pure and divine, it gives me goosebumps every time."

The three men were recently reunited at the wall for a photo shoot, recreating their pose of 40 years ago.

The Western Wall, a remnant of the second biblical Jewish Temple, is the holiest site where Jews can pray. It lines the Al Aqsa Mosqe compound, home to Islam's third holiest shrine. The holy sites in Jerusalem's walled Old City were under Jordanian control and off-limits to Jews for 19 years.

On the third day of the 1967 Six-Day War, the three young reservists were frozen in photographer David Rubinger's frame, after fighting in a series of bloody battles and making their way into the Old City.