Mt. Scopus: Wikis


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The Hebrew University campus and tower on Mount Scopus from the south

Mount Scopus (Hebrew הַר הַצּוֹפִים (Har HaTzofim), Arabic جبل المشارف Ǧabal al-Mašārif, جبل المشهد Ǧabal al-Mašhad, جبل الصوانة) (meaning Lit. Mount "Look Out") is a mountain (elevation: 2710 feet or 826 meters above sea level) in northeast Jerusalem, Israel. Overlooking Jerusalem, Mount Scopus has been strategically important as a base from which to attack the city since antiquity. A Roman Legion camped there in 66 CE.[1] Again in 70 CE Mount Scopus was used as a base to carry out a siege of the city by the 12th, 15th and 5th Legions (the 10th legions position being on the Mount of Olives).[2] The Crusaders used it as a base in 1099. As a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, parts of Mount Scopus became a UN protected Jewish property exclave within Jordanian-occupied territory until the Six-Day War in 1967. Today, Mount Scopus lies within the municipal boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.




Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Hebrew University inauguration ceremony, 1917

Construction of the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University began in 1918 on land purchased from the Gray Hill estate. The dedication ceremony was held in 1925 in the presence of many dignitaries.[3] A design for the university campus by Sir Patrick Geddes positioned the university buildings on the slopes of the mount, below a domed, hexagonal Great Hall recalling the Star of David, as a counterpoint to the octagonal Dome of the Rock in the Old City. [4] This plan was never implemented, but Geddes designed the university Library, today the Hebrew University Faculty of Law on Mount Scopus.[4]

By 1947, the university was a solid research and teaching institution with humanities, science, medicine, education and agriculture departments (in Rehovot), a national library, a university press and an adult education center. The university had a student population of over 1,000 and 200 faculty members. [3]

Botanical Garden

The Hebrew University Botanical Garden on Mount Scopus was founded by botanist Alexander Aig in 1931. This garden contains one of the largest collections of Israeli uncultivated plants. This was the first home of Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo.[5] A cave in the garden has been identified as the Tomb of Nicanor of Alexandria, who donated one of the gates of Herod's Temple. [6]

Hadassah Hospital

Hadassah nursing school under construction, c. 1934

In 1939, the Hadassah Women's Organization opened a teaching hospital on Mount Scopus [7] in a building designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn. In 1948, when the Jordanians occupied East Jerusalem and blockaded the road to Mount Scopus, the hospital could no longer function.[7] In 1960, after running clinics in various locations, the organization opened a medical center on the other side of the city, in Jerusalem's Ein Karem neighborhood.[7] On April 13, 1948, a civilian convoy bringing medical supplies and personnel to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was attacked by Arab forces. 78 Jews, mainly doctors and nurses, were killed in the ambush. [8]

Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center

The construction of the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Mount Scopus initially sparked controversy due to concerns that the Mormons would engage in missionary activities. After the Mormons pledged not to proselytize in Israel, work on the building was allowed to proceed. The Mormon University, as it is commonly known, commands a panoramic view of Jerusalem and has won awards for its stunning architecture. [9]

Jordan-Israel armistice agreement

After the ceasefire agreement of November 30, 1948, which established the division of East and West Jerusalem, Israel was alloted control of the western part of the city while Jordan controlled the east. Several demilitarized "no man's land" zones were established along the border, one of them Mount Scopus.[10] Fortnightly convoys carrying supplies to the university and hospital located in the Israeli part of the demilitarized zone on Mount Scopus were periodically held up by Jordanian troops. [11]

Article VIII of the armistice agreement signed by the governments of Israel and Jordan in April 1949,[12] called for a resumption of "the normal functioning of the cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mount Scopus and free access thereto; free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives; resumption of operation of the Latrun pumping station; provision of electricity for the Old City; and resumption of operation of the railroad to Jerusalem."[12]

In January 1958, Francis Urrutia, a representative of the UN Secretary-General, tried to persuade Jordan to abide by Article VIII, but without success. [11] In May 1958, Jordanian soldiers fired on Israeli patrols, killing a UN officer and four Israeli policemen. Ralph Bunche, assistant to UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld visited Jerusalem and Amman to find a solution, followed by Hammarskjöld himself, again unsuccessfully. [11]

Local area commanders agreements

The Mount Scopus Agreement signed on July 7, 1948 regulated the demilitarised zone around Mount Scopus and authorized the Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization and his representative to settle disputes between the Israelis and Jordanians. Two Jewish-owned plots in al-Issawiya, known as Gan Shlomit or Salomons Garden, were purchased by Mrs. V.F. Salomons in 1934 and sold to the Gan Shlomit Company, Ltd. in 1937.[13] This land was surrounded by a fence, but clashes erupted when Arabs living on the other side of the fence sought to cultivate land, pick olives and carry out repairs on homes close to the fence. The Arabs were requested not to work closer than fifty metres from the fence unless prior permission was granted by the Israeli police.[13] There were two versions of the The demilitarization agreement one was initialled by Franklyn M. Begley, a UN official; the local Jordanian commander and the Israeli local commander. The other was not initialled by the Israeli local commander. Having two versions of the map was the cause many incidents within the Mount Scopus area.[13] Particularly on a disputed patrol route of the Israeli police past Arab property.

Ceasefire violations

On July 24, 1956 in the disputed armistice line of Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus demilitarized zone, Arabs re-occupied a house close to Jewish property on Mount Scopus. The house was fired on by Israeli police stationed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, leading to a protracted fire-fight with Jordanian Legion troops. The UN observers arranged for a ceasefire. However, while attempting to reach the house in question to negotiate with the Jordanians, the UN observers were severely wounded by an anti-personnel mine.

On May 26, 1958, UNTSO officer Lieutenant-Colonel Flint was killed by a sniper bullet while trying to evacuate Israeli police officers on a disputed patrol route who had been killed or wounded by Jordanian fire. Flint was within 40-50 meters of the body of one of the Israelis, carrying a white flag, when he was hit by a bullet and died on the spot.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Rome and Jerusalem; The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. Martin Goodman p.13
  2. ^ "The Jewish Wars" Josephus v 81 and 82
  3. ^ a b The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - History
  4. ^ a b Hadassah Magazine
  5. ^ More than just Mount Scopus - Israel Travel, Ynetnews
  6. ^ Haaretz Man bites history By Tom Segev
  7. ^ a b c NY Times
  8. ^ Hadassah Convoy Massacre
  9. ^ Jerusalem - Beyond the Old City Walls
  10. ^ Mideast Web. org.
  11. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Judaica, "Jerusalem," vol. 9, pp. 1497, Keter, Jerusalem, 1978
  12. ^ a b UN Doc S/1302/Rev.1 of 3 April 1949 Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom Israel Armistice Agreement
  13. ^ a b c d [1][2] Report of the Firing Incident of 26 May 1958 on Mount Scopus UN Doc S/4030 17 June 1958

External links

Coordinates: 31°47′33″N 35°14′39″E / 31.7925°N 35.24417°E / 31.7925; 35.24417


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