Archive for the ‘Golan Heights’ Category

Todd Pitock – Tablet Magazine

If you tell Americans youre going to the Golan Heights, they think youre taking your life into your hands. It doesnt matter if you say that inside Israel its been quiet for more than 40 years. Theyre set on the idea. The place only gets mentioned alongside worrisome words like annexation, international recognition, UN troops, and formulations about land for peace, a quaint phrase that dates to the period before the greater region fell to pieces like a Byzantine mosaic.

The manner in which I almost did fall prey to harm, on a visit to the Golan two years ago, better illustrates the reality.

It was 1 oclock in the afternoon on Shabbat. I arrived at a kibbutz guesthouse to learn that Id needed to bring my own food. All Id had to eat was an egg early in the morning. It hadnt occurred to me that nothing would be open. No food? No problem. They would serve breakfast in the morning. Morning? From 8 a.m. That was, uh, still 19 hours from now.

Wait a minute, I said. Theres no food? Nothing?

We dont offer food on Shabbat, the woman holding down reception told me, out of respect for the religious.

Im pretty sure the religious rest on Shabbat, I told her. I wasnt aware that they also fast.

Im not religious, she said. I handed her back the keys.

I got in the car, only to face another issue: a near-empty gas tank. (My wife is always on me about not filling up until its an emergency, and Im sincere when I promise to listen to her next time.) I took a wrong turn. Given how few roads are in the Golan, its actually a hard mistake to make. I drove along some bands of asphalt alongside the Jordanian border and eventually past vineyards, groves, ranches, ruins, and memorials to soldiers who died retaking the land in 1973 after the Syrian army rolled in to retake the land it lost in 1967.

Near Katsrin I found a gas station, and bought a bag of Bisli. Original flavor. I have no idea what that flavor actually is, and I think I like it because it transports me to my days as a 20-year-old volunteer on Kibbutz Haogen.

At 2:30 I pulled into Merom Golan, another kibbutz with a guesthouse. They had one room left but check-in on Shabbat was 6. I asked about food.

Youre in luck, the receptionist said. Our restaurant is open.

Oh, thank God for good luck!

They open at 7:30.

7:30? Until when?

To be honest, not for that long. Until people arent ordering. We dont have many people.

But you told me youre booked solid.

We have a bus group arriving. They will start at 7 oclock, and when theyre done the restaurant will close.

Theyll start at 7 and the restaurant opens at 7:30?

Yes.

And itll close

Around then, to be honest.

So for me, itll open at 7:30 and close at about 7:30?

Im afraid so.

It was a good place to stay, so I checked in, but I still had to find a solution for my hungerI couldnt wait five more hours to eat. It dawned on me that I could get a good lunch in a Druse village. No Shabbat there! When I started out in the morning, traveling alone from Tel Aviv, I hadnt planned to drive halfway to Damascus, but I was almost there at this point, anyway. I scarfed down the rest of the bag of Bisli. Between that and the Danny Robas song on the radio, I passed a few amiable moments revisiting the late 1980s and was probably driving at a speed to match my ferocious appetite, when suddenly I had to brake on the nostalgia to avoid crashing into eternity. A man on a horse, in a 10-gallon hat and cowboy boots, like hed just galloped in from Wyoming, crossed in front of me. If hed really been from Wyoming, he would have tipped his hat.

But he wasnt. He was an Israeli. So he just carried on, and I continued on for lunch in Maasedeh.

***

The next day I met up with my friend Israel Eshed. We met a couple of years ago when I signed up for the first Golan Ultra Marathon, which got curtailed to 10 kilometers from 100 due to heavy rain. We went hiking on the Golan Trail, which he created. Israel is a lovely guy, a really fine spirit. He was born in Poland in 1955, the child of Holocaust survivors. He enlisted in the army just in time for the Yom Kippur War, then settled in the Golan and helped found Eliad, a moshav named for Eli Cohen, the Israeli spy killed in Syria in 1965. He and his wife, Orna, a highly respected biologist at the Technion, built a house surrounded by grapefruit and orange trees, and raised horses. They also raised three children. Life was good, and things flourished for them as it did for the Golan generally, until 1995, when Orna fought her first war with cancer. Ten years later it re-invaded their happiness again, and this time she did not survive. Thats when Israel started whacking the Golan Trail, a two-year endeavor, to find his way through the high grass and thorns of grief. When he was done, the 120-kilometer route ran from Mount Hermon to the southern edge of the Kinneret.

Now, he looks like a man who used to be lean and athletic until he discovered gustatory delights, and it was a lot of work and not enough fun at this stage of the game to stay lean. But hes still active. When we met he wore a faded shirt that said, This body climbed Mt. Washington. It also climbed, among others, Mount Rainier and Mount Blanc, and traversed the Grand Canyon three times. I mentioned my friend Lior in Tel Aviv, the editor of some Israeli magazine, who planned to climb Rainier without training.

Typical Israeli, Israel said.

We wanted to go hiking again, so I followed him in my rented Hyundai to leave a car in the spot where wed eventually finish, and then we drove to where wed start, and set off.

Wildflowers filled in spaces between olive trees and cactuses and burning bushes of wild mustard. Sunlight glazed the surface of the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, its fame so disproportionate to its size. In America, wed call it a lake, somewhat like the Jordan River, which wed call a stream.

We came to a ruin, a half-collapsed rectangle of a building from the 1880s. It had been the center for a group of families from Safed. (The explanation was in Hebrew on both sides. It was supposed to be Hebrew on one side and English on the other, but the printer duplicated the same Hebrew text on both sides. Typical Israeli.) They settled by a spring and in due course, many of them died from sicknesses, because, if you think about it, what else could possibly happen in an isolated place with frosty winters and malarial summers and no medicine. Back then, you toughed it out or you died. In 1920, during one of the Arab-Jewish flare-ups, the ones who toughed it out, all but a mother and son whose last name was Bernstein, were murdered.

Can you imagine living here? I said. I bet they didnt even have WiFi.

We gingerly negotiated our way back down a slope to avoid a sticky weed shaped like spearmint that pricked and burned. The tough bastards who once lived here, and the Arabs who came after that, probably just walked on it and didnt even notice.

***

At Eliad, Israels friend Alon had a big house with a crazy long and beautiful dinner table made from two single planks of a eucalyptus tree. Alon was on his way to help a couple new to the community build their house. They had given all their money to a contractor to build it, and the contractor, a Jewish thief, absconded. Now the members of Eliad were donating their labor to build the house. And they had gotten outside help, too. Six people from the old German Democratic Republic had shown up to work, too. They were working for free, very hard, dusk to dawn.

How did they know the story?

They arehow do you say it?messianic Jews, and they love Israel. They heard what happened and they came to help. There was a group before them. Theyre halfway between Jews and Christians. Wonderful people!

Not-such-wonderful people were terrorizing and killing one another a short distance away. Thats the border with Syria. The last time there was an actual war here was 1973. Eliad set up a field hospital, where wounded Syrian soldiers were treated. One of them managed to communicate coordinates to his comrades and the field hospital was mortared. A memorial marks the spot where doctors, nurses, and medics were killed. It had been quiet since then, but at the time of my visit, Al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate that broke away to form its own group, moved in, and ISIS was also busy hunting for real estate.

We sat outside Chateau Golan, the boutique winery on the edge of Eliad, and sipped wine.

Can you hear fighting? I asked Itzhak Ribak, the winerys owner.

At one time we heard a lot. But not lately.

Does it make you nervous?

No. Right now theyre fighting each other. We wish both sides much success!

For the moment, that conflict could have been on Jupiter. We were about to enter another. Or not. Israel said he liked French reds. The winemaker, Uri Chetz, who learned his craft during six years in Oregon after a career as an IDF pilot, asked which he liked best. Israel said, Chablis.

There are no reds in Chablis, Uri said, smirking. Thats why I asked you, to see if you knew.

They make reds in Chablis, Israel insisted.

No, they dont. They dont even grow grapes for red.

In America, correcting someone so forwardly would be considered a symptom of what psychologists call an impulse-control problem. An American would say, I didnt know they grew reds in Chablis! I thought they only grew Chardonnay grapes and made very dry white wines and then through an accretion of detail the American would demonstrate that the person was mistaken, if not a complete ignoramus. An Israeli uses words and tone and is as subtle as a grenade followed by a finishing spray of an M-1. Wow, what a goddamn moron you must be, reds in Chablis! Holy mackerel, and Im sitting here talking to you yet.

We all get to the same place, just on different routes.

But here was another difference between us. Its that the American, having been impolitely corrected, would feel foolish and bitter, while the Israeli, having just had his front teeth knocked in, just shrugged and knocked back another glass of wine. There was a war on down the road waged by genocidal fanatics, and another one, no doubt, coming in a few years to a theater near here, and right now the sun was shining and it was a beautiful afternoon sipping a beautiful wine, so who really gave a toss what they grew in Chablis?

***

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Todd Pitock is a writer in Philadelphia.

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Todd Pitock – Tablet Magazine

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June 5, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Listening to the guns from on high: a view from the Golan Heights – New Statesman

In a gift shop on the Golan Heights, tourists queue to buy slogan T-shirts. Most of the garments on offer here follow the same theme, a distinctive brand of Israeli tough-guy humour. Mossad: my job is so secret even I dont know what Im doing! reads one. Dont worry America! Israel is behind you! screams another, above a picture of a F-35 stealth fighter jet.

Yet one of the captions is rather more topical. Groups that have tried to destroy the Jewish people, it says. Underneath is a list that runs from Ancient Egypt to Nazi Germany. Each is marked off as destroyed!, but the last on the list is followed by a question mark: Iran?.

The question of Irans attitude to Israel is rather less ironic for the Israel Defence Forces officer tasked with watching the steady progress of Iranian-allied forces just across the border from the Golan Heights. The Israelis took this piece of land during the Six-Day War of 1967 and fully annexed it 14 years later. Syria has never stopped insisting that, one day, it will seize it back. The two countries are officially at war along this border, as idyllic as this lush, mountainous area looks on a recent late-spring morning.

Recently, though, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has had more urgent matters to attend to than reclaiming the Golan Heights from Israel, in the form of the war with rebel and Islamist militias that has been fought across vast swathesof his country since 2011. From this vantage point high up in Israel, tourists get a sweeping view of a part of Syria divided into a messy patchwork of rebel and regime fiefdoms. Inthe distance, you can hear the occasional sound of machine-gun fire.

Assad cant stand on his own his is a Soviet army, its not designed to fight an uprising, says the IDF officer stationed here, who just gives his name as Oz. He spends his days in his small prefab office on a military base high up in the Golan Heights, monitoring a war that is playing out just a few milesaway.

Ozs biggest worry in relation to Syria is not Isis or the rebels but Iran, one of the major powers supporting the now reinforced Assad regime. Iran is determined to keep Assad in his presidential palace in Damascus, seeing him as a key component in its plans to extend an arc of Shia influence from Tehran, through Baghdad, to Syria and Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. This trajectory would bring Iran up against the border of Israel, a state that it loudly wishes to destroy.

The Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah, a spearhead of Iranian influence if not a direct proxy, has been at the vanguard of Assads fight against the Syrian rebels since early 2013. Starting in small numbers, Hezbollah gradually built up its troops and influence inside Syria to the point where, two years ago, it was this faction, and not Assads government, that was arranging trips into Syria for journalists. The town of Quneitra in south-western Syria, one of Hezbollahs footholds in Assads territory, is less than two miles from the border with Israel laid out like a toy town beneath the viewing point with its gift shop on the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah is estimated to have lost up to 2,000 fighters in Syria but it has gained experience of tough urban warfare and, for the first time, enough acumen credibly to call itself an army rather than a client militia.

Hezbollah has experience of urban warfare. But once you give a terror group access to an area, they wont leave, says the IDFs Oz.

Hezbollah has been firing rockets at Israel for decades from their traditional strongholds in southern Lebanon. Now, with new territory in Syria and with the opposition to Assad seriously weakened, Israel is worried that the group will soon turn their attention away from the rebels and back to Jerusalem. Sporadically, the IDF attacks Hezbollah and Syrian army positions over the border, whenever it feels the group is growing too strong.

Recently, Israels strikes inside Syria have been growing more frequent: at the end of April, missiles most likely fired by the IDF hit Damascusairport.

For six years, Israel has played the tense role of outside observer, sat uncomfortably on the sidelines of the Syrian war even as the rest of the worlds major powers have been sucked in. But that may not be feasible for much longer.

Just along from the lookout point on the Golan, Farid al-Saeed Ahmed is watching the war over the border too. He is a Druze, a follower of a secretive sect of Shia Islam whose communities are long established in this part of the Levant. As many as 90per cent of the people living in the Golan are Druze, and, even after 50 years as part of Israel, they speak Arabic among themselves and identify foremost as Syrians.

Ahmeds fruit farm, a vista of apple and cherry trees coming into bloom in the bright sun, runs right up to the barbed wire and landmine warning signs that mark the frontier. From his land, he looks across to the other side, where the Druze villages that fell on the Syrian side of the 1967 divide have faced a very different fate. Some say that we are lucky we are under Israeli occupation, because, if there was no occupation, then we would be facing Nusra, says Ahmed, of the faction linked to al-Qaeda that has threatened to overrun the Druze communities on the Syrian side.

When rebel groups have previously seized Druze areas in the north of the country, they have forced the inhabitants to convert to their brand of Sunni Islam.

He may have fallen on the lucky side of the border, but Ahmed has lost much in this war, too. Before 2011, Druze students from the Golan were allowed to study at Damascus University and Ahmed sold his produce in Syria. Now, his passage to the place he considers his homeland is closed. He can see it, laid out tantalisingly beneath him, but he cant step on its soil.

All our family documents are in Quneitra; even our kids still feel like they are Syrian, he says. Sometimes we cry for everyone. Its not our fault that our leaders are dictators.

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Listening to the guns from on high: a view from the Golan Heights – New Statesman

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June 3, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights Winery | Yarden Wines

One place in Israel enjoys ideal conditions, as in Bordeaux or Tuscany, for producing internationally renowned wines. Here in the Golan Heights, in this breathtaking strip of land, everything begins with the right conditions volcanic basaltic soil, suitable topography and cool high-altitude climate. This unique combination is what gives the Golan Heights its second name wine country.

Golan Heights Winery marketing its wines under four leading brands Yarden, Gilgal, Mount Hermon and Golan. The Winery is considered Israels leading winery when it comes to wine quality, technological innovation, and new variety development.

Since it was founded in 1983, Golan Heights Winery has played a significant role in developing and nurturing Israels current wine culture. The Winery also has altered the way Israeli wines are perceived worldwide, and has firmly placed Israel on the world wine map.

More information about the winery and their brands you can find atwww.golanwines.co.il

Below please see all of our Golan Heights Wines.

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Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ | CBN … – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel Near the end of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the last 50 years, that battle has proven to be one of the most strategic of the war.

“Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region,” said Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed.

That’s in part because of its proximity to the Sea of Galilee. The Golan Heights shares borders with Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, with Damascus just 40 miles away.

For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israelis below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack.

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War.

“So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians,” Melamed said.

CBN’s “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” about the Six-Day War is returning to theaters after debuting at #3 at the box office with sold-out theaters in the U.S. Get your tickets here for the June 1 showing.

“Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest freshwater body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel,” Melamed continued.

“In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water.

“The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said.

Israel faced a literal uphill battle against the Syrian army a rocky slope that rose 1,700 feet from the Sea of Galilee. Israel captured the Golan plateau during the last two days of the Six-Day War.

Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights. They established the first community there called Merom Golan (the height of the Golan).

“We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here.

“We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers.

“We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said.

Eventually, the community moved across the ridge and still farms near the border.

Today, close to 50,000 people more than 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines.

“In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happens on the other side of the border.”

But that could be changing.

Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.”

“I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.”

Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said.

On the 49th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear how Israel views the Golan Heights.

“[The Golan Heights] are for peace. In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem. The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands,” Netanyahu said at a special cabinet meeting. “The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights.”

For now, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet.

“We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

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Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ | CBN … – CBN News

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May 31, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Two workers injured in Golan Heights oil drilling explosion – The Times of Israel

Two workers were injured early Monday morning in an explosion at an oil drilling site in the Golan Heights.

Magen David Adom first responders provided treatment to the two men at the scene, on Route 87 between the towns of Katzrin and Yehuda. They were then taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa with serious injuries. MDA said one was in critical condition.

The circumstances of the incident were unclear, and the Israel Police opened an investigation.

The Afek Oil and Gas company, which operates the drilling site, told Channel 10 that the workers were not in life-threatening condition and that the company had operated in coordination with the relevant authorities.

Also Monday, a 50-year-old construction worker sustained moderate injuries when a heavy object fell on him at a work site in Ashkelon. MDA paramedics took him to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.

Lethal workplace accidents occur regularly at construction sites in Israel. Despite the government increasing the number of safety inspections, the number of fatalities surged in 2016.

Only half of all deaths at construction sites between 2011 and 2015 were investigated, according to research carried out by the Knesset Research and Information Center, and in over 50 percent of those cases probes were closed due to inconclusive evidence.

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Two workers injured in Golan Heights oil drilling explosion – The Times of Israel

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May 29, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel On the last two days of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the past few decades, that border has been Israel’s quietest, but that could soon change.

This scenic area is known in the Bible as Bashan, part of the tribe of Menashe.

For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israelis below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack.

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War.

“Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region and that is exactly the situation that used to be here prior to 1967 when Syria used to be located right here,” Melamed began. “So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians.”

CBN’s “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” about the Six-Day War is returning to theaters after debuting at #3 at the box office with sold-out theaters in the U.S. Get your tickets here for the June 1 showing.

Asked how people lived like that, he responded, “Well, you basically have two options: either you’re leaving or you’re staying.”

He continued. “Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest freshwater body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel. In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water.

“The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said.

But all that changed when Israel, against all odds, captured the strategic plateau.

Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights.

“We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here.

“We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers.

“We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said.

Today, 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines.

“In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happen[s] in the other side of the border.”

But Melamed explained that could be changing.

“Actually, what we see right now in Syria is a huge stage of a huge regional power struggle, roughly speaking between two major forces. One, are the Iranians and their backed militias on the one hand and the other are the Arab Sunnis, including of course the Syrians,” he said. “The majority of the Syrians are Sunnis. So the war in Syria is way beyond a civil war. You have a Russian presence military presence in Syria.”

Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.”

“I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.”

Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said.

In the meantime, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet.

“We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

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Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ – CBN News

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May 26, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights Critical to Maintaining Peace – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel On the last two days of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the past few decades, that border has been Israel’s quietist, but that could soon change.

This scenic area is known in the Bible as Bashan, part of the tribe of Menashe.

For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israeli’s below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack.

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War.

“Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region and that is exactly the situation that used to be here prior to 1967 when Syria used to be located right here,” Melamed began. “So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians.”

Asked how people lived like that, he responded, “Well, you basically have two options: either you’re leaving or you’re staying.”

He continued. “Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest fresh water body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel. In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water.

“The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said.

But all that changed when Israel, against all odds, captured the strategic plateau.

Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights.

“We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here.

“We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers.

“We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said.

Today, 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines.

“In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happen[s] in the other side of the border.”

But Melamed explained that could be changing.

“Actually, what we see right now in Syria is a huge stage of a huge regional power struggle, roughly speaking between two major forces. One, are the Iranians and their backed militias on the one hand and the other are the Arab Sunnis, including of course the Syrians,” he said. “The majority of the Syrians are Sunnis. So the war in Syria is way beyond a civil war. You have a Russian presence military presence in Syria.”

Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.”

“I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.”

Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

“Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said.

In the meantime, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet.

“We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

The rest is here:
Golan Heights Critical to Maintaining Peace – CBN News

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Israeli olive products from Golan Heights sold in US Whole Foods Markets – Ynetnews

The natural cosmetics, cleaning and olive oil brand Olea Essence, produced in the Golan Heights, recently reached the shelves of the American organic supermarket Whole Foods, appearing on the shelves of its 435 markets in the United States.

As part of the cooperation between the parties, it was agreed that in the first stage, the Olea Essence’s natural cleaning products would be sold, and in the second stage, cosmetics and olive oils would also be sold.

Avner Talmon, the brand’s owner, said last week that additional branches of Olea Essence are expected to open this year in Zurich and Japan. They also intend to open more stores in Israel this year.

Olea Essence

A year ago, the first store opened on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv. This is in addition to the visitor centers in Katzrin and Kibbutz Ein Gev in the North.

The brand’s products are made from Israeli-cultivated olives grown around the Sea of Galilee and the Golan.

Olea Essence boasts that their products are completely natural and manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.

(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)

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Israeli olive products from Golan Heights sold in US Whole Foods Markets – Ynetnews

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White House publishes map of Israel omitting Palestinian territory, Golan Heights – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

Donald Trump speaks at a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon in Washington, DC, on May 27, 2014. (AFP/Jewel Samad, File)

While Israel occupied the territories in 1967, Israel extended Israeli law to the Golan Heights, but does not claim sovereignty in the West Bank — though many right-wing Israeli lawmakers continue to advocate the West Bank’s annexation and consider illegal settlements built on Palestinian land part of Israel.

Ynet reported that the right-wing Israeli leader also said that Trump was elected on statements that supported moving the embassy to Jerusalem and should therefore commit to his promises, while she was elected by her constituency to ensure that no Palestinian state is established.

Map of Israel released by White House omitting the West Bank and Golan Heights

Trumps campaign promise of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be seen as the first step to a drastic abdication of longstanding US policy that has largely adhered to international standards on Israel-Palestine, which maintains East Jerusalem as an intricate part of occupied Palestinian territory and the capital of any future Palestinian state, despite Israels de facto annexation of the territory.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Trump, referring to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, told Abbas that we will get this done. However, the US President has not revealed a thorough understanding of the conflict in the region or of his country’s diplomatic efforts on the issue.

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White House publishes map of Israel omitting Palestinian territory, Golan Heights – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

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Todd Pitock – Tablet Magazine

If you tell Americans youre going to the Golan Heights, they think youre taking your life into your hands. It doesnt matter if you say that inside Israel its been quiet for more than 40 years. Theyre set on the idea. The place only gets mentioned alongside worrisome words like annexation, international recognition, UN troops, and formulations about land for peace, a quaint phrase that dates to the period before the greater region fell to pieces like a Byzantine mosaic. The manner in which I almost did fall prey to harm, on a visit to the Golan two years ago, better illustrates the reality. It was 1 oclock in the afternoon on Shabbat. I arrived at a kibbutz guesthouse to learn that Id needed to bring my own food. All Id had to eat was an egg early in the morning. It hadnt occurred to me that nothing would be open. No food? No problem. They would serve breakfast in the morning. Morning? From 8 a.m. That was, uh, still 19 hours from now. Wait a minute, I said. Theres no food? Nothing? We dont offer food on Shabbat, the woman holding down reception told me, out of respect for the religious. Im pretty sure the religious rest on Shabbat, I told her. I wasnt aware that they also fast. Im not religious, she said. I handed her back the keys. I got in the car, only to face another issue: a near-empty gas tank. (My wife is always on me about not filling up until its an emergency, and Im sincere when I promise to listen to her next time.) I took a wrong turn. Given how few roads are in the Golan, its actually a hard mistake to make. I drove along some bands of asphalt alongside the Jordanian border and eventually past vineyards, groves, ranches, ruins, and memorials to soldiers who died retaking the land in 1973 after the Syrian army rolled in to retake the land it lost in 1967. Near Katsrin I found a gas station, and bought a bag of Bisli. Original flavor. I have no idea what that flavor actually is, and I think I like it because it transports me to my days as a 20-year-old volunteer on Kibbutz Haogen. At 2:30 I pulled into Merom Golan, another kibbutz with a guesthouse. They had one room left but check-in on Shabbat was 6. I asked about food. Youre in luck, the receptionist said. Our restaurant is open. Oh, thank God for good luck! They open at 7:30. 7:30? Until when? To be honest, not for that long. Until people arent ordering. We dont have many people. But you told me youre booked solid. We have a bus group arriving. They will start at 7 oclock, and when theyre done the restaurant will close. Theyll start at 7 and the restaurant opens at 7:30? Yes. And itll close Around then, to be honest. So for me, itll open at 7:30 and close at about 7:30? Im afraid so. It was a good place to stay, so I checked in, but I still had to find a solution for my hungerI couldnt wait five more hours to eat. It dawned on me that I could get a good lunch in a Druse village. No Shabbat there! When I started out in the morning, traveling alone from Tel Aviv, I hadnt planned to drive halfway to Damascus, but I was almost there at this point, anyway. I scarfed down the rest of the bag of Bisli. Between that and the Danny Robas song on the radio, I passed a few amiable moments revisiting the late 1980s and was probably driving at a speed to match my ferocious appetite, when suddenly I had to brake on the nostalgia to avoid crashing into eternity. A man on a horse, in a 10-gallon hat and cowboy boots, like hed just galloped in from Wyoming, crossed in front of me. If hed really been from Wyoming, he would have tipped his hat. But he wasnt. He was an Israeli. So he just carried on, and I continued on for lunch in Maasedeh. *** The next day I met up with my friend Israel Eshed. We met a couple of years ago when I signed up for the first Golan Ultra Marathon, which got curtailed to 10 kilometers from 100 due to heavy rain. We went hiking on the Golan Trail, which he created. Israel is a lovely guy, a really fine spirit. He was born in Poland in 1955, the child of Holocaust survivors. He enlisted in the army just in time for the Yom Kippur War, then settled in the Golan and helped found Eliad, a moshav named for Eli Cohen, the Israeli spy killed in Syria in 1965. He and his wife, Orna, a highly respected biologist at the Technion, built a house surrounded by grapefruit and orange trees, and raised horses. They also raised three children. Life was good, and things flourished for them as it did for the Golan generally, until 1995, when Orna fought her first war with cancer. Ten years later it re-invaded their happiness again, and this time she did not survive. Thats when Israel started whacking the Golan Trail, a two-year endeavor, to find his way through the high grass and thorns of grief. When he was done, the 120-kilometer route ran from Mount Hermon to the southern edge of the Kinneret. Now, he looks like a man who used to be lean and athletic until he discovered gustatory delights, and it was a lot of work and not enough fun at this stage of the game to stay lean. But hes still active. When we met he wore a faded shirt that said, This body climbed Mt. Washington. It also climbed, among others, Mount Rainier and Mount Blanc, and traversed the Grand Canyon three times. I mentioned my friend Lior in Tel Aviv, the editor of some Israeli magazine, who planned to climb Rainier without training. Typical Israeli, Israel said. We wanted to go hiking again, so I followed him in my rented Hyundai to leave a car in the spot where wed eventually finish, and then we drove to where wed start, and set off. Wildflowers filled in spaces between olive trees and cactuses and burning bushes of wild mustard. Sunlight glazed the surface of the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, its fame so disproportionate to its size. In America, wed call it a lake, somewhat like the Jordan River, which wed call a stream. We came to a ruin, a half-collapsed rectangle of a building from the 1880s. It had been the center for a group of families from Safed. (The explanation was in Hebrew on both sides. It was supposed to be Hebrew on one side and English on the other, but the printer duplicated the same Hebrew text on both sides. Typical Israeli.) They settled by a spring and in due course, many of them died from sicknesses, because, if you think about it, what else could possibly happen in an isolated place with frosty winters and malarial summers and no medicine. Back then, you toughed it out or you died. In 1920, during one of the Arab-Jewish flare-ups, the ones who toughed it out, all but a mother and son whose last name was Bernstein, were murdered. Can you imagine living here? I said. I bet they didnt even have WiFi. We gingerly negotiated our way back down a slope to avoid a sticky weed shaped like spearmint that pricked and burned. The tough bastards who once lived here, and the Arabs who came after that, probably just walked on it and didnt even notice. *** At Eliad, Israels friend Alon had a big house with a crazy long and beautiful dinner table made from two single planks of a eucalyptus tree. Alon was on his way to help a couple new to the community build their house. They had given all their money to a contractor to build it, and the contractor, a Jewish thief, absconded. Now the members of Eliad were donating their labor to build the house. And they had gotten outside help, too. Six people from the old German Democratic Republic had shown up to work, too. They were working for free, very hard, dusk to dawn. How did they know the story? They arehow do you say it?messianic Jews, and they love Israel. They heard what happened and they came to help. There was a group before them. Theyre halfway between Jews and Christians. Wonderful people! Not-such-wonderful people were terrorizing and killing one another a short distance away. Thats the border with Syria. The last time there was an actual war here was 1973. Eliad set up a field hospital, where wounded Syrian soldiers were treated. One of them managed to communicate coordinates to his comrades and the field hospital was mortared. A memorial marks the spot where doctors, nurses, and medics were killed. It had been quiet since then, but at the time of my visit, Al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate that broke away to form its own group, moved in, and ISIS was also busy hunting for real estate. We sat outside Chateau Golan, the boutique winery on the edge of Eliad, and sipped wine. Can you hear fighting? I asked Itzhak Ribak, the winerys owner. At one time we heard a lot. But not lately. Does it make you nervous? No. Right now theyre fighting each other. We wish both sides much success! For the moment, that conflict could have been on Jupiter. We were about to enter another. Or not. Israel said he liked French reds. The winemaker, Uri Chetz, who learned his craft during six years in Oregon after a career as an IDF pilot, asked which he liked best. Israel said, Chablis. There are no reds in Chablis, Uri said, smirking. Thats why I asked you, to see if you knew. They make reds in Chablis, Israel insisted. No, they dont. They dont even grow grapes for red. In America, correcting someone so forwardly would be considered a symptom of what psychologists call an impulse-control problem. An American would say, I didnt know they grew reds in Chablis! I thought they only grew Chardonnay grapes and made very dry white wines and then through an accretion of detail the American would demonstrate that the person was mistaken, if not a complete ignoramus. An Israeli uses words and tone and is as subtle as a grenade followed by a finishing spray of an M-1. Wow, what a goddamn moron you must be, reds in Chablis! Holy mackerel, and Im sitting here talking to you yet. We all get to the same place, just on different routes. But here was another difference between us. Its that the American, having been impolitely corrected, would feel foolish and bitter, while the Israeli, having just had his front teeth knocked in, just shrugged and knocked back another glass of wine. There was a war on down the road waged by genocidal fanatics, and another one, no doubt, coming in a few years to a theater near here, and right now the sun was shining and it was a beautiful afternoon sipping a beautiful wine, so who really gave a toss what they grew in Chablis? *** Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazines new content in your inbox each morning. Todd Pitock is a writer in Philadelphia.

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June 5, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Listening to the guns from on high: a view from the Golan Heights – New Statesman

In a gift shop on the Golan Heights, tourists queue to buy slogan T-shirts. Most of the garments on offer here follow the same theme, a distinctive brand of Israeli tough-guy humour. Mossad: my job is so secret even I dont know what Im doing! reads one. Dont worry America! Israel is behind you! screams another, above a picture of a F-35 stealth fighter jet. Yet one of the captions is rather more topical. Groups that have tried to destroy the Jewish people, it says. Underneath is a list that runs from Ancient Egypt to Nazi Germany. Each is marked off as destroyed!, but the last on the list is followed by a question mark: Iran?. The question of Irans attitude to Israel is rather less ironic for the Israel Defence Forces officer tasked with watching the steady progress of Iranian-allied forces just across the border from the Golan Heights. The Israelis took this piece of land during the Six-Day War of 1967 and fully annexed it 14 years later. Syria has never stopped insisting that, one day, it will seize it back. The two countries are officially at war along this border, as idyllic as this lush, mountainous area looks on a recent late-spring morning. Recently, though, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has had more urgent matters to attend to than reclaiming the Golan Heights from Israel, in the form of the war with rebel and Islamist militias that has been fought across vast swathesof his country since 2011. From this vantage point high up in Israel, tourists get a sweeping view of a part of Syria divided into a messy patchwork of rebel and regime fiefdoms. Inthe distance, you can hear the occasional sound of machine-gun fire. Assad cant stand on his own his is a Soviet army, its not designed to fight an uprising, says the IDF officer stationed here, who just gives his name as Oz. He spends his days in his small prefab office on a military base high up in the Golan Heights, monitoring a war that is playing out just a few milesaway. Ozs biggest worry in relation to Syria is not Isis or the rebels but Iran, one of the major powers supporting the now reinforced Assad regime. Iran is determined to keep Assad in his presidential palace in Damascus, seeing him as a key component in its plans to extend an arc of Shia influence from Tehran, through Baghdad, to Syria and Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. This trajectory would bring Iran up against the border of Israel, a state that it loudly wishes to destroy. The Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah, a spearhead of Iranian influence if not a direct proxy, has been at the vanguard of Assads fight against the Syrian rebels since early 2013. Starting in small numbers, Hezbollah gradually built up its troops and influence inside Syria to the point where, two years ago, it was this faction, and not Assads government, that was arranging trips into Syria for journalists. The town of Quneitra in south-western Syria, one of Hezbollahs footholds in Assads territory, is less than two miles from the border with Israel laid out like a toy town beneath the viewing point with its gift shop on the Golan Heights. Hezbollah is estimated to have lost up to 2,000 fighters in Syria but it has gained experience of tough urban warfare and, for the first time, enough acumen credibly to call itself an army rather than a client militia. Hezbollah has experience of urban warfare. But once you give a terror group access to an area, they wont leave, says the IDFs Oz. Hezbollah has been firing rockets at Israel for decades from their traditional strongholds in southern Lebanon. Now, with new territory in Syria and with the opposition to Assad seriously weakened, Israel is worried that the group will soon turn their attention away from the rebels and back to Jerusalem. Sporadically, the IDF attacks Hezbollah and Syrian army positions over the border, whenever it feels the group is growing too strong. Recently, Israels strikes inside Syria have been growing more frequent: at the end of April, missiles most likely fired by the IDF hit Damascusairport. For six years, Israel has played the tense role of outside observer, sat uncomfortably on the sidelines of the Syrian war even as the rest of the worlds major powers have been sucked in. But that may not be feasible for much longer. Just along from the lookout point on the Golan, Farid al-Saeed Ahmed is watching the war over the border too. He is a Druze, a follower of a secretive sect of Shia Islam whose communities are long established in this part of the Levant. As many as 90per cent of the people living in the Golan are Druze, and, even after 50 years as part of Israel, they speak Arabic among themselves and identify foremost as Syrians. Ahmeds fruit farm, a vista of apple and cherry trees coming into bloom in the bright sun, runs right up to the barbed wire and landmine warning signs that mark the frontier. From his land, he looks across to the other side, where the Druze villages that fell on the Syrian side of the 1967 divide have faced a very different fate. Some say that we are lucky we are under Israeli occupation, because, if there was no occupation, then we would be facing Nusra, says Ahmed, of the faction linked to al-Qaeda that has threatened to overrun the Druze communities on the Syrian side. When rebel groups have previously seized Druze areas in the north of the country, they have forced the inhabitants to convert to their brand of Sunni Islam. He may have fallen on the lucky side of the border, but Ahmed has lost much in this war, too. Before 2011, Druze students from the Golan were allowed to study at Damascus University and Ahmed sold his produce in Syria. Now, his passage to the place he considers his homeland is closed. He can see it, laid out tantalisingly beneath him, but he cant step on its soil. All our family documents are in Quneitra; even our kids still feel like they are Syrian, he says. Sometimes we cry for everyone. Its not our fault that our leaders are dictators.

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Golan Heights Winery | Yarden Wines

One place in Israel enjoys ideal conditions, as in Bordeaux or Tuscany, for producing internationally renowned wines. Here in the Golan Heights, in this breathtaking strip of land, everything begins with the right conditions volcanic basaltic soil, suitable topography and cool high-altitude climate. This unique combination is what gives the Golan Heights its second name wine country. Golan Heights Winery marketing its wines under four leading brands Yarden, Gilgal, Mount Hermon and Golan. The Winery is considered Israels leading winery when it comes to wine quality, technological innovation, and new variety development. Since it was founded in 1983, Golan Heights Winery has played a significant role in developing and nurturing Israels current wine culture. The Winery also has altered the way Israeli wines are perceived worldwide, and has firmly placed Israel on the world wine map. More information about the winery and their brands you can find atwww.golanwines.co.il Below please see all of our Golan Heights Wines.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ | CBN … – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel Near the end of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the last 50 years, that battle has proven to be one of the most strategic of the war. “Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region,” said Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed. That’s in part because of its proximity to the Sea of Galilee. The Golan Heights shares borders with Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, with Damascus just 40 miles away. For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israelis below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack. Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War. “So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians,” Melamed said. CBN’s “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” about the Six-Day War is returning to theaters after debuting at #3 at the box office with sold-out theaters in the U.S. Get your tickets here for the June 1 showing. “Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest freshwater body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel,” Melamed continued. “In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water. “The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said. Israel faced a literal uphill battle against the Syrian army a rocky slope that rose 1,700 feet from the Sea of Galilee. Israel captured the Golan plateau during the last two days of the Six-Day War. Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights. They established the first community there called Merom Golan (the height of the Golan). “We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here. “We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers. “We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said. Eventually, the community moved across the ridge and still farms near the border. Today, close to 50,000 people more than 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines. “In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happens on the other side of the border.” But that could be changing. Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.” “I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.” Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. “Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said. On the 49th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear how Israel views the Golan Heights. “[The Golan Heights] are for peace. In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem. The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands,” Netanyahu said at a special cabinet meeting. “The Golan Heights will forever remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights.” For now, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet. “We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

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May 31, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Two workers injured in Golan Heights oil drilling explosion – The Times of Israel

Two workers were injured early Monday morning in an explosion at an oil drilling site in the Golan Heights. Magen David Adom first responders provided treatment to the two men at the scene, on Route 87 between the towns of Katzrin and Yehuda. They were then taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa with serious injuries. MDA said one was in critical condition. The circumstances of the incident were unclear, and the Israel Police opened an investigation. The Afek Oil and Gas company, which operates the drilling site, told Channel 10 that the workers were not in life-threatening condition and that the company had operated in coordination with the relevant authorities. Also Monday, a 50-year-old construction worker sustained moderate injuries when a heavy object fell on him at a work site in Ashkelon. MDA paramedics took him to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. Lethal workplace accidents occur regularly at construction sites in Israel. Despite the government increasing the number of safety inspections, the number of fatalities surged in 2016. Only half of all deaths at construction sites between 2011 and 2015 were investigated, according to research carried out by the Knesset Research and Information Center, and in over 50 percent of those cases probes were closed due to inconclusive evidence.

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May 29, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Why Israel’s Quietest Border Could Face a ‘Massive Eruption’ – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel On the last two days of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the past few decades, that border has been Israel’s quietest, but that could soon change. This scenic area is known in the Bible as Bashan, part of the tribe of Menashe. For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israelis below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack. Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War. “Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region and that is exactly the situation that used to be here prior to 1967 when Syria used to be located right here,” Melamed began. “So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians.” CBN’s “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” about the Six-Day War is returning to theaters after debuting at #3 at the box office with sold-out theaters in the U.S. Get your tickets here for the June 1 showing. Asked how people lived like that, he responded, “Well, you basically have two options: either you’re leaving or you’re staying.” He continued. “Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest freshwater body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel. In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water. “The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said. But all that changed when Israel, against all odds, captured the strategic plateau. Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights. “We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here. “We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers. “We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said. Today, 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines. “In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happen[s] in the other side of the border.” But Melamed explained that could be changing. “Actually, what we see right now in Syria is a huge stage of a huge regional power struggle, roughly speaking between two major forces. One, are the Iranians and their backed militias on the one hand and the other are the Arab Sunnis, including of course the Syrians,” he said. “The majority of the Syrians are Sunnis. So the war in Syria is way beyond a civil war. You have a Russian presence military presence in Syria.” Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.” “I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.” Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. “Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said. In the meantime, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet. “We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

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May 26, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights Critical to Maintaining Peace – CBN News

GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel On the last two days of the Six-Day War, attention shifted away from Jerusalem. About 120 miles away, Israeli troops took control of the Golan Heights. Over the past few decades, that border has been Israel’s quietist, but that could soon change. This scenic area is known in the Bible as Bashan, part of the tribe of Menashe. For decades Syria controlled the Golan Heights. Here on the high ground overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Syrian artillery and snipers shot and shelled the Israeli’s below. Children grew up running to bomb shelters and residents lived under the constant threat of attack. Overlooking the Sea of Galilee, Middle East expert and author of Inside the Middle East Avi Melamed explained why it’s so important to understand what happened in the Golan during the Six-Day War. “Whoever sits on the Golan Heights totally dominates this whole region and that is exactly the situation that used to be here prior to 1967 when Syria used to be located right here,” Melamed began. “So, all along the line of this cliff were Syrian bunkers and military posts and cannons and artilleries. The communities beneath the Golan Heights were at the total mercy of the Syrians.” Asked how people lived like that, he responded, “Well, you basically have two options: either you’re leaving or you’re staying.” He continued. “Now, you have to remember, the Sea of Galilee is the biggest fresh water body in Israel, providing something like 25 to 30 percent of the water consumption or the fresh water consumption in Israel. In 1948 [and] until 1967 what happened was that the Syrians occupied some strategic areas. One is the area where the Jordan River feeds from the north and enters the Sea of Galilee. The other area was the strip that you see right beneath us actually rubbing shoulders with the water. “The major result of that was an enormously increasing pressure on Israel mostly in the context of the water and use of water,” Melamed said. But all that changed when Israel, against all odds, captured the strategic plateau. Just one month after the war, Yehuda Harel and his family were among the first Israelis who moved to the Golan Heights. “We were afraid that Syria will come back and again they will shell the valley and try to take the water, to take the Jordan,” Harel recalled. “We decide[d] to make the first kibbutz in the Golan Heights to convince the government we’ll stay here. “We got the permission from the army to get inside the Golan Heights because it was a military area. And we got a job from them to collect cows that were wild in the area,” he continued. They wound up living in what had been the living quarters for Syrian Army officers. “We are very near to Qunietra [on the Syrian-Israeli border]. I mean about a hundred meters from Qunietra. And we are near to the quarter; we used to live here for almost five years. This is the house that we, with another three families, lived in this house,” Harel said. Today, 25,500 Israelis and 22,000 Druze live on the Golan Heights, now known for its apple and cherry orchards and for the vineyards that produce award-winning Israeli wines. “In the last more than 40 years, the Golan Heights is the most quiet area of Israel,” Harel said. “Everything happen[s] in the other side of the border.” But Melamed explained that could be changing. “Actually, what we see right now in Syria is a huge stage of a huge regional power struggle, roughly speaking between two major forces. One, are the Iranians and their backed militias on the one hand and the other are the Arab Sunnis, including of course the Syrians,” he said. “The majority of the Syrians are Sunnis. So the war in Syria is way beyond a civil war. You have a Russian presence military presence in Syria.” Asked if he sees any similarities between pre-1967 conditions and now, Melamed said the threat is “more severe.” “I would say that the strategic threat, as far as Israel is concerned, is today much more severe in comparison to the pre-1967. The major reason for that is that the presence of Iranians and Iranian-backed Shiite militias [are] a stone’s throw away from the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.” Melamed said Iran wants to establish a new front in the Golan that’s similar to those established in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. “Trying to launch a military front against Israel in the Golan Heights will could result in a massive eruption because Israel would not stand for that and rightly so,” he said. In the meantime, Harel says there’s a reason why this area has remained quiet. “We live here in peace and it’s a peace because we are on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When we were only in the valley and the enemy was up on the hill, it was not peace. To live in peace, we have to be strong and to live in the higher place.”

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May 25, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Israeli olive products from Golan Heights sold in US Whole Foods Markets – Ynetnews

The natural cosmetics, cleaning and olive oil brand Olea Essence, produced in the Golan Heights, recently reached the shelves of the American organic supermarket Whole Foods, appearing on the shelves of its 435 markets in the United States. As part of the cooperation between the parties, it was agreed that in the first stage, the Olea Essence’s natural cleaning products would be sold, and in the second stage, cosmetics and olive oils would also be sold. Avner Talmon, the brand’s owner, said last week that additional branches of Olea Essence are expected to open this year in Zurich and Japan. They also intend to open more stores in Israel this year. Olea Essence A year ago, the first store opened on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv. This is in addition to the visitor centers in Katzrin and Kibbutz Ein Gev in the North. The brand’s products are made from Israeli-cultivated olives grown around the Sea of Galilee and the Golan. Olea Essence boasts that their products are completely natural and manufactured in an environmentally friendly way. (Translated and edited by J. Herzog)

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May 20, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

White House publishes map of Israel omitting Palestinian territory, Golan Heights – Ma’an News Agency (press release)

Donald Trump speaks at a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon in Washington, DC, on May 27, 2014. (AFP/Jewel Samad, File) While Israel occupied the territories in 1967, Israel extended Israeli law to the Golan Heights, but does not claim sovereignty in the West Bank — though many right-wing Israeli lawmakers continue to advocate the West Bank’s annexation and consider illegal settlements built on Palestinian land part of Israel. Ynet reported that the right-wing Israeli leader also said that Trump was elected on statements that supported moving the embassy to Jerusalem and should therefore commit to his promises, while she was elected by her constituency to ensure that no Palestinian state is established. Map of Israel released by White House omitting the West Bank and Golan Heights Trumps campaign promise of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be seen as the first step to a drastic abdication of longstanding US policy that has largely adhered to international standards on Israel-Palestine, which maintains East Jerusalem as an intricate part of occupied Palestinian territory and the capital of any future Palestinian state, despite Israels de facto annexation of the territory. The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes. Trump, referring to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, told Abbas that we will get this done. However, the US President has not revealed a thorough understanding of the conflict in the region or of his country’s diplomatic efforts on the issue.

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May 20, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed


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