The Golan Heights

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On the sabbath we had brunch in the Hula Valley in the Golan Heights. We had “local” food pretty much every day, and I have to say it was damn nice. It’s a shame to eat your normal diet, when you are in other countries, but often you end up doing so if staying in hotels. Having a local guide really helps.

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That sign is not just for show. The Syrians left a huge number of mines behind, and decided it was better to just fence off some areas than try and detect them all (hazardous to the detectors)

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Sweden doubles its defence force capability 🙂

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One mine field has these cacti in them. I mentioned to the group that I would plant a mine at the bottom of the cactus so that if the mine doesn’t get you, then you’ll still be hit by hundreds of pieces of cacti. One of the others said they hoped never to have to go to war against NZ with that mentality!

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A fairly major strategic battle happened on this hill. 20 Israelis died taking the hill against a mortar and very well defended trenches. They Syrian soldiers were very young and inexperienced and eventually fled a superior position. Our host mentioned that the Syrians were very much innocent victims in a conflict not of their choosing.

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One of the trenches on the hill

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Nearby was Fort Nimrod. Now this has nothing to do with any modern conflict but was established as a Muslim fort in 1300 AD or so. There are extensive ruins to look at, if you make the drive up to it.

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More of the fort.

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Down to the secret tunnel

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Used the zoom lens to snap this little creature on a ledge below the fort. It looks like the little critter is about to jump!

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We then went to Mount Bental. On the path at the top, they have entries from a competition to design children’s toys out of former military weapon. I asked if there was also a competition to design weapons out of children’s toys 🙂

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And another

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At the top they have a former bunker a a very nice café. The Hebrew word for in the clouds is Annan and for coffee is Kofi, so the café is called Kofi Annan, a nice play on the former UN Secretary-General.

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Again this is regarded as a very strategic hill. You can actually see a Syrian city, and Lebanon is not far away. Contrary to what might assume, there is no border fence.

At one stage we we driving next to the Jordan. In fact we got so close my cellphone told me I was now receiving Vodafone Jordan.

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Going down into the bunker.

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This is at Qatsrin, and is the remains of a very early Jewish synagogue from 2,000 years ago.

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At Janhnun we saw a great audio-visual show on the history of the Golan Heights, beamed onto a replacia model of them. Then afterwards we had a beer tasting of local beers. Yum.

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A sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Beautiful.

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Finally we visited Hamat-Gader where we saw some animals, had dinner, and dipped into the local thermal pools. Those leaving later on Sunday stayed the night at the Kefar-Ha Nassi Kibbutz.

We had an interesting debate about whether that fence was high enough to stop a determined crocodile.

We also saw a nine metre python.

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A photo of the pool area. The main pool was hot enough, but the inside pool was an uncomfortable 43 degrees – maximum time recommended 10 minutes.

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