Masada is an ancient fortification on a rocky plateau overlooking the Dead Sea. After the Siege of Jerusalem, the destruction of Herod's Temple and the exile of the Jewish people from the city in 70 CE, many remaining Jews headed to Masada and held out against the armies of Rome for another three years. It is still a mystery what happened to the last of the Jewish defenders during the final hours of their revolt against the Romans, Elazar ben Yair the leader decided that they should commit suicide instead of surrrender to the Romans. Some did but many did not, as suicide is forbidden by Jewish law.When the Byzantine Empire invaded years later and took over Jerusalem, a church was built on Masada. Masada survived the centuries following the exile of the Jewish people from Israel, it survived the Christian Crusades and the Islamic conquest.
In 1948 for the first time in two thousand years, a Jewish state in Palestine was created and Israel was reborn. Jews were finally allowed to return and declared independence. Masada and many other holy locations including the Old City of Jerusalem were off limits to Jews. In 1967, after the Six-Day War where Israel defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Masada was captured by the Israelis. Excavations were started following the Six-Day War, ritual baths and the remains of a synagogue were found. Later, skeletons of the Jewish defenders were found at Masada and in 1969 they were given a full military funeral.
Masada symbolises the destruction of the Temple and exile of the Jewish people in 70CE, Israeli soldiers take the oath that "Masada shall not fall again" so far they have kept their oath.