Paratroopers at the Western Wall

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Paratroopers at the Western Wall, by David Rubinger

Paratroopers at the Western Wall is an iconic photograph taken on June 7, 1967, by David Rubinger. Shot from a low angle, the photograph depicts three Israeli paratroopers framed against the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, shortly after its recapture by Israeli forces in the Six-Day War. From left to right, the Israeli soldiers photographed are Zion Karasenti, Yitzhak Yifat, and Haim Oshri.[1] The soldiers were reservists of the 66th Battalion, 55th Paratroopers Brigade.

Prior to taking the photograph, Israeli photographer and photojournalist Rubinger had been at el-Arish on the Sinai Peninsula when he heard a rumor that something big was going to happen in Jerusalem. He hopped aboard a helicopter ferrying wounded soldiers to Beersheba, although he didn't know its destination at the time.[2] His car happened to be there, and he drove the rest of the way, at one point asking a hitchhiking soldier he had picked up to drive because he was too sleepy.[3] He arrived in the Old City and after visiting quickly with his family, made his way to the wall. The space between the wall and the buildings in front of it was very narrow, so he lay down to get a shot of the wall itself, when the paratroopers walked by and he took several shots of them.

Twenty minutes later, IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren arrived on scene with a shofar and a Torah scroll, whereupon Goren was hoisted upon the shoulders of the soldiers. It was an emotional scene and Rubinger by far preferred that one, though his wife Anni told him "the one of the three soldiers" was better.[4]

As part of his agreement with the Israeli Army allowing him front-line access, he turned the negatives over to the government, who distributed it to everyone for a mere 2 each. It was then widely pirated as well. Although Rubinger was upset about his work being stolen, the photo's widespread distribution made it famous.[4]

The image engenders such a strong emotional component that it has become an icon of Israel. Israeli Supreme Court Justice Misha'el Kheshin declared in 2001 that the photo had "become the property of the entire nation".[5]


  1. ^ Yossi Klein Halevi, "The Photograph: A Search for June 1967", Azure (Summer 2007)
  2. ^ Urquhart, Conal (2007-05-06). "Six days in June". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  3. ^ Rabinovich, Abraham (2007-11-29). "David Rubinger's third eye". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  4. ^ a b Silver, Eric (2006-02-16). "David Rubinger in the picture". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  5. ^ "Chairman of the Central Elections Committee denies Shinui Faction's petition to prohibit the use in the current election campaign of David Rubinger's well-known 1967 photograph, "Paratroopers at the Western Wall"". Central Elections Committee Announcements. Knesset. 2001-07-01. Retrieved 2008-12-02.