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Uzi Narkiss (Hebrew: עוזי נרקיס; January 6, 1925 – December 17, 1997) was an Israeli general. Narkiss was commander of the Israel Defense Forces units in the Central Region during the Six Day War. Narkiss appears in the famous photograph of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan flanked by Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin and himself, taken in the Old City of Jerusalem shortly after its capture from Jordanian forces in the 1967 Six Day War.
Uzi Narkiss was born in Jerusalem to Polish Jewish parents. His first memory was of going into hiding during the 1929 Arab riots. Narkiss attended high school at Gymnasia Rehavia. He joined the Palmach at the age of 16 and was involved in Haganah operations against British Mandatory forces in Palestine.
In April 1948, Narkiss headed the assault on Katamon, capturing the monastery at San Simon — a key strategic position. Following the final departure of the British and the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Narkiss was appointed to assist those besieged in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Narkiss' unit succeeded in penetrating Zion Gate, bringing in supplies and evacuating the wounded from those under siege. When military reinforcements failed to appear, however, Narkiss ordered his men to retreat, with the Old City falling to Jordanian forces shortly thereafter.
Narkiss spent several years in France during the formative years of Israel, seconded to study at the École de Guerre (the French Military Academy) and later in the capacity of Israeli military attaché, having been awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government. Narkiss returned to Israel to continue his military career and in 1965 became the first director of the Israel National Defense College.
In June 1967, with seven brigades under his command, Narkiss was responsible for combating any possible Jordanian offensive. Capturing the Old City was not part of the plan. Israeli units moved effectively to take key positions in east Jerusalem, where one key location was Ammunition Hill. Still, to Narkiss' dismay, the politicians would still not allow the Old City to be taken. But with a looming cease fire approaching after an emergency meeting of the UN, Moshe Dayan gave the order to Narkiss who quickly capitalised on the opportunity to reunite the city before any cease fire prevented this as an option. Under his direction, the Old City was taken over and Jerusalem reunified under Israeli control. From Narkiss' viewpoint, this liberation completed the campaign he had begun nineteen years earlier, and whose previous failure had haunted him.
Narkiss retired from the IDF in 1968, subsequently holding key positions in the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. In 1948 Uzi Narkiss found Palestinian commander Abdul Kader Husseini's Koran on the battlefield. In the 1980s he wanted to give it to Kader's son Faisal Husseini but Husseini refused to get it back from the hands of Israeli general.
He died in Jerusalem at the age of 72.
- General Uzi Narkiss - A historic radio interview with General Uzi Narkiss on June 7 - one day after the Six-Day War, describing the battle for Jerusalem
- Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem site. Office of Uzi Narkiss (S91)