Golan Heights

borderdsc_8337golan-mapMarch 27, 2017

We drove from Tiberias around the Sea of Galilee (see map) on Highway 90 toward the Golan Heights.

Below are some of the eateries offering candy, hamburgers, coffee, ice cream “Artics,” Coca Cola, beer, etc. along the highway:
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am-busview_20170327_085836 If you enlarge the picture at right by clicking on it, you will see — scattered around the beautiful landscape — some little yellow squares.

Below are some that are more visible.

 

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Up close now  . . .

am-busview_20170327_085905The signs say  “DANGER: MINES!” in three languages.   Unfortunately, cows can’t read.

It’s estimated there are about a million Syrian mines still in the Golan, and that it will take about a century to remove them all at the current rate.
busview_20170327_090943Here and below are more views from the bus as we drove through the Golan Heights.  As the mines are cleared, more land is available for agriculture.
am-view_20170327_085833When I lived in Israel after the 6-Day War, in the 1970s, my then-husband and I wanted to join a new agricultural Moshav in the Golan.  We rented a car to see the area, being careful not to leave the roads since everything was mined at that time.  The soil was rich and black.  We had a map and followed the return road south as the sun was setting – until suddenly the road ended.  It was on the map, but had not been finished yet.  An Arab guard with a rifle stood at the end of the road.  I thought we were finished.  However, he invited us into his tent, served us coffee, and showed us pictures of his family, after which he gave us directions how to return home on existing roads.
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More beautiful countryside:
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A bus stop seen along the road:
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At what seems to be the top of the world, our guide, Natalie, gives us the history of the area and explains why the Syrians had such an advantage before they lost the Golan in the Six Day War.  Children in the Hula Valley kibbutzim below the Golan had to sleep in bomb shelters at night because the Syrians had no reluctance about attacking Israeli civilians from their Golan bunkers.
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Entrance to an old Syrian bunker.
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golandsc_8360 This area with its fortified tunnels was captured from the Syrians and annexed to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It was overrun by the Syrians in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and had to be captured again.

The underground Syrian tunnels and bunkers of the old El Murtafa position are now called Mitzpe Gadot, or the Gadot Lookout Point, since from here most of the Syrian fire was aimed at Kibbutz Gadot.

golandsc_8367Today the area gives a wonderful panoramic view of Israel – which makes it abundantly clear why this area can never be returned to an enemy.    The large triangular memorial has been added as a memorial to members of the Golan-Alexandroni Brigade  who fell at the site.

The Hula Valley view from here.

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