a different side of Israel

Tag: Galilee

Touring the north of Israel

Sea of GalileeThose fortunate enough to go on sightseeing trips to Israel’s far northern region during Pesach must have been impressed by the sheer beauty of areas in Israel’s northern Galilee and “panhandle” regions. On the last day of Pesach, we drove north, passing landmark cities such as Nazareth and Tzfat, as well as the Kinneret or Sea of Galilee. Being early spring, the entire region is still carpeted with green and covered with an array of wild flowers. The area this time of year is a far cry from what it looks like in mid to late summer the lush greenery of spring has turned to more somber colors of gold and brown.

We arrived in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona where we turned right on highway 99 to reach our first objective, the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, located east of Kibbutz Dan at the northern edge of the Hula Valley. The Reserve, covering 480 square dunam (120 acres) is well known as the source of the Dan River, one of the three sources of the Jordan. We took what is known as the long nature trail, which traversed part of the river in several places, and is a virtual paradise of plants and animals; many of which are not found anywhere else in Israel. The river, really a stream, was in its full glory with rapids and gushing of what appeared to be water fresh enough to drink from. The lush undergrowth almost hid the remains of a nearly disastrous fire which almost destroyed large sections of the reserve less than two years before. A number of small springs, which feed into the Dan were everywhere, and many of then literally appear from nowhere and disappear into “sinkholes” in the ground. In the middle of the nature trail is a large hollow tree which is known as the “pooh bear tree” as it resembles the home of the Winnie the Pooh children’s character.

Tzfat IsraelTel Dan contains remains of some of the oldest civilizations in Israel, some dating back more than 7,000 years. The area was home to both Canaanite and early Israelite settlements, including some connected with the House of David. In fact an inscription on a piece of tablet, from the 9th Century BCE, contains a victory message by King Hazael of Damascus “over the King of Israel and descendents of the House of David”. An excavated Israelite town, complete with entrance gate, is located there as well. From a lookout point, we could see a large section of the Hula Valley, and would also have seen Mt. Hermon, still capped with snow, had weather been permitting. We saw sections connected with later Greek and Roman settlements, including an altar for making ritual sacrifices.

The areas near the Dan River stay cool all year round, even during the hot summer months; which make the area very attractive place for visitors. We were not permitted to wade in the stream, however, and smoking or throwing of litter is strictly prohibited. After refreshing ourselves at the park’s guest facilities (which have plenty of ice cream, and other things attractive for kids) we proceed on to our next stop, passing the Banias Nature Reserve at the entrance to the Golan Heights. We stopped to photograph a spectacular waterfall on Nachal Hermon (Hermon Stream) from which the Banias gets its main water source.

We had lunch in a well known restaurant, located in an area where many Golan Druze residents sell their agricultural products (olives, cheese, fruit etc.) and went up on a lookout position to see the Hula Valley and Kiryat Shmona laid out below us. We could see the ancient Crusader fortress of Nimrod’s Castle located above us, and the site of fierce battles during both the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars. Returning to Israel proper, we hoped to see yet another water fall located on Nahal Iyun, below the entrance to Metula, Israel’s furthest town. Unfortunately, the park was already closed, so we had to be satisfied with seeing the falls (which literally cascades from a rocky cliff) from afar.

Metula is a very quaint town and very different from most other towns in Israel, It’s Challet- style houses and pension hotels give it an appearance of being somewhere else, and I can see why it is often known as “little Switzerland”. After taking some photographs of the border with Lebanon, which runs virtually along-side the town, we proceed south and climbed western ridge of Galilee mountain, to Kibbutz Misgav Am, located virtually on the border with Lebanon. Walking to the top of an observation point, we had one of the spectacular views of both Lebanon and the northern Hula Valley available in Israel. We could see cars moving on roads in the Lebanese town of Al Aldissa, which lay directly below us, as well as the Christian town of Marjayoun, off in the distance. The area seemed so peaceful it was hard to believe it was at war less than three years before.

We took what is known as the “Northern Road”, Highway 899, which runs literally along Israel’s border with Lebanon, almost to Nahariya, Israel’s northern city in the Western Galilee. On much of the road, we were often the only car, and could see the Lebanese border in many places. Again, the peacefulness of the area made it hard to believe that so much fighting and destruction from incoming Ketiusha rockets occurred there so recently. It appears that Mother Nature seems to have a way of repairing herself, even after such occurrences.

While the area is still clothed in greenery , as well as being “quiet”, from a security point of view, a trip up there is well recommended, especially if you haven’t seen this part of Beautiful Israel yourself.

Nasrallah’s Tip Off & The Bitter Taste of Betrayal

So this morning we got a little love from our cousins in the North.. A Palestinian Group was able to get up close and personal and shoot a few older model rockets over the border.


Although no one is actually taking responsibility for the shooting of these 4 rockets into Nahariya and the Western Galilee there are the usual suspects. There was no real surprise here and there was an expectation both in the army and civilian authorities that an attack will be coming especially after the speech by Nasrallah.

The Army Command-Directorate of Orientation issued a statement on Thursday saying that “an unknown party launched a number of rockets toward the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Israel retaliated and launched artillery shells on the southern region of Naqoura.”

The Army statement added that no casualties resulted from the Israeli bombing, stressing Army units were cooperating with the UNIFIL and took adequate measures to protect the residents and control the situation. (Al Manar TV)

But we all know who runs the show in Lebanon and if you were listening carefully last night to the nightly rant of the bearded, semi hysterical Hezbollah leader I swear you could hear a hidden tip off…

On Wednesday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, warned that “all possibilities” were open against Israel as he gave a speech condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and voicing support for Hamas….

The comments marked the first time he has spoken so openly on the possibility of a renewed conflict with Israel since the war in Gaza began on December 27.

Nasrallah warned that the 2006 conflict would be “but a walk in the park” compared to what awaits Israel if it launches a new offensive on Lebanon.

“We have to act as though all possibilities are real and open [against Israel] and we must always be ready for any eventuality.

“We are ready to sacrifice our souls, our brothers and sisters, our children, our loved ones for what we believe in.” (Al Jazeera)

So, if one was to listen to the message and put that together with the attack this morning, one could make the claim that we were duly warned. But why would he do that? Hezbollah is not looking for another fight (at least not right now) and yet they had to let the “rogue faction” blow off some steam. Now I know they’re not Jewish but that sounds like … guilt. They feel a little guilty.

I guess sending an entire nation to a state of chaos and death can cause a little guilt even in Nasrallah.

Let’s face it, the Iranians and Nasrallah pushed and egged on Hamas, they made them believe that when the time came they would be there and instead hung them out to dry. The way its being described here is that Nasrallah would fight Israel until the last drop of Gazan blood.

That’s what I call the bitter taste of betrayal. I hope that when this war is over the Palestinian people keep in mind what their “friends” were doing to help them… With friends like that who needs enemies..

The Israeli Wild Life

Attacked Park Ranger Israel (Hat Tip: Nature & National Parks Protection Authority)

Upper Galilee Head park officer Offer Yaacov of the Nature & National Parks Protection Authority could feel something was wrong. With his men he traced down a dubious group of people, suspecting them for performing illegal porcupine hunt. When Yaacov succeeded to block the suspects’ car, one of the (alleged) hunters approached him and hit him in the head with a bludgeon. Sometime during the confrontation Yaacov’s gun fell down. The hunter did not think twice – he reached down to it, held the gun to the park officer’s head and said: “You’d better get your car off the road.” The young hunter and his two companions left with Yaacov’s gun, and although they were arrested by the police that chased them down, they were released that very night to a partial house arrest.

It didn’t take long before Yaacov got a phone call from the audacious hunter, who threatened him to keep silent, “I know who you are and where you live.” Yaacov too knew the person on the other side of the line: the son of a herdsman whom Yaacov had given professional advice.

Apparently this is not the first case of violence manifested against nature reserves officers – lawbreakers have tried to fend off officers on duty by drowning them, running them over and hurling bricks at them. These are not just porcupine or partridge hunters (recently labeled as protected animal in Israel), but also local villagers who run their illegal businesses on the account of the country’s natural resources – selling dug earth, cutting down trees, polluting, you just name it.

The park officers, who are well aware of the dangers of their occupation, feel discriminated; “but what if a gun was pointed at some cop’s head, would they still release the offender the same night?”

It’s about time that criminals in Israel – of all stripes – get punished for their wrong-doings. No wonder they feel free to take the law (and the law-keeper ‘s gun) into their hands. There’s no other way out – but to fight fire with fire!

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