In 1967, Yair Barak, a paratrooper, was 24 years old and participated in the Battle of Jerusalem as a member of the 7th Battalion. When Barak, aged 80, finally arrived at the Mughrabi gate of the Temple Mount (the entrance just south of the Kotel and the current access point for Jews to the Temple Mount), he claimed that after days of battle and witnessing friends perish and be hurt, he found a sizable key on the left of the gate.
He could unlock the gate with the key; then, steps led down to the Kotel. In a well-known event from the conflict, Rabbi Goren arrived a little while later and blew the shofar there.
When asked about the incident, Barak replied, “40 or 50 years later, it began to irk me.” He then put the key in his pocket and forgot about it. I wanted to return the key to its owner because I had stolen it.
Barak claimed he didn’t know to whom to hand it, but in the end, he was instructed to send it back to the Waqf, the organization overseeing the Temple Mount, which is situated in Jordan. According to Barak, returning the key is a metaphor for what Israel should do to give the Palestinians back “their honor, their territory, their independence, their security, and their freedom.”
This would involve Israel giving up all of the lands it took during the Six-Day War.
According to Barak, Jerusalem Day is “one of the most hated days in the calendar for me” since “I was an unwilling partner in occupying Jerusalem.”
יאיר ברק צנחן שהשתתף בכיבוש ירושלים ב 1967 החזיר את מפתח שער המוגרבי במסגד אלקסא להנהלת הוואקף לאחר גניבתו לפני 56 שנים pic.twitter.com/9hN80iZSoT
— sami abdulhamid سامي عبد الحميد (@samiaah10) May 18, 2023