Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A journey into northern Israel
The chance to see country in Israel similar to my native far Northern California stomping grounds was exciting. High hills and green vegetation awaited us in northen Israel. For the penultimate day of our ten day trip to Israel, while on the bus ride to the Golan Heights, our guide gave us a brief backstory on how the Golan Heights became a part of Israel through the Six Day War in 1967. He pointed out that Israel nearly doubled in size during that brief war with four other nations surrounding Israel. Much of the captured land was given back to the former enemy countries after the war, yet the Golan Heights were kept. Our first stop was to a lookout point where a battle involving Israeli tanks and soldiers took place around a hill overlooking a valley. He described several sacrifices that Israeli soldiers made to win the small battles that enabled Israel to win the Six Day War, despite many problems arising with the Israeli military and how they overcame those problems. One soldier was said to have risked direct enemy fire by jumping on a barbwire fence in order that his fellow soldiers could easily make it over the fence to attack the hill. Stories such as those are remembered by the Israelis, and continue to inspire them.
We then went farther northeast to see the border between Israel and Syria. We were shown where the border between Israel and Syria curved throughout the valley, and the identifying features that separate the two countries. Big black portions of ground where the vegetation had been burned are defining marks of the start of the Syrian country.
Our final stop was to the beautiful Sea of Galilee. The water was warm, and the atmosphere was even warmer. Our trip leader, Pini, informed us of the strategic necessity of the Sea of Galilee to Israel, and how it is a good source of water to the country and people. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater body of water that is continually filled from the north by the Jordan River, and then water flows out the south end into the Jordan River, which continues south to the Dead Sea. Of course, our group didn’t leave without spending some time in the water.