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Geo-Politics of the Golan Heights

Our day begins at the Panoramic lookout “Mitzpe Shalom”.  Up until 1967 Israeli farming communities in the Jordan Valley and along the Sea of Galilee were constantly at the mercy of the Syrian military as they would rain down artillery shells at their choosing.  From this viewpoint we can understand why local residents pressured the Government of Israel to capture the commanding Golan Heights  during the last two days of the June 1967 Six Day War.

Yet seven years later the Syrian launched a suprise attack on Israel, which we will review and sample at Tel Saki. The 1973 Yom Kippur War caught Israel by surprise.  The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost at Tel Saki along the Syrian border was no exception.  A total of thirty five soldiers were killed and twenty six wounded.  No one survived the battle unscathed.  Forty years after the battle a beautiful memorial was dedicated honoring the courage and valor exhibited in one of the most famous and traumatic battles of the war.

bentalNext we will ascend to the top of Mount Bental  Located on Israel’s current north eastern border with Syria. From this mountaintop we will be able to observe some of the IDF defensive positions aimed at preventing an armored attack from across the border, and discuss the recent Syrian civil war and its direct impact on the deployment of IDF forces in the region.

Beneath it, we will explore the Valley of Tears. This picturesque valley, surrounded by thousands of acres of vineyards producing some of the best boutique wines in the world, was the site in what many consider to be one of the world’s largest armored battles to take place since WWII.  In the first few days of the war 175 IDF tanks successfully held off and eventually defeated the 700 Syrian tanks that were attacking them.

In the nearby Kibbutz we will watch a presentation about the battle (OZ 77 movie  ), and also have lunch. After lunch we will drive to Tel Facher, a commanding hilltop that provided Syrian forces a distinct advantage.  Despite this, and at the cost of 34 dead and over 100 wounded, Golani Infantry managed to conquor the site in one of the most crucial battles during the “Six Days War”.  In memory of these fallen soldiers, the site was renamed Mitzpe Golani (the Golani lookout).

We will end the day with a discussion on the current and possible futrue of this region stratigical region.

 

Israeli Druze diplomat answer to the Syrian representative in the UN