Golan Heights

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Background: The Golan Heights is a mountainous plateau overlooking the Khula Valley. The Golan was used by the Jews seeking refuge from Rome in the 1st century, but later was controlled by the Ottomans, the French (after WWI), and Syria (after WWII). Syria used its altitude as a vantage point to continually shell the Galilee in the 1950s and 60s. Israel captured the Golan after the 1967 Six Day War, and even more of it in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It returned the territories it had conquered except for a 768 sq km plateau which in annexed in 1981 (which the UN ruled was illegal) for protection from Syrian artillery and for water. In reality whoever controls the plateau has a great view of the Galilee and Damascus.

Impressions: The Golan is beautiful. It’s lush and fruitful and stands out like a green thumb from the rest of Israel. Driving up from Rehovot we always had noticed the transition from the south to the Galilee, but entering the Golan was a different story. The mountains and fauna makes you forget you’re in the Middle East and you think you’re in Switzerland. Mount Hermon is often capped with snow and is home to the only ski resort in Israel (but after my disasters at Mammoth I’m not trying that again). The only things that taint the landscape are the signs warning against landmines (and the fact that there are landmines) and random destroyed tanks squatting everywhere.

~ by jonathanmtsai on May 1, 2011.

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