Golan Heights and Mount Bental Observatory


The Golan Heights are located in the northern most part of Israel and span approximately 37 miles in length and nine to 16 miles in width. The whole region was once volcanic and the mineral rich soil is ideal for growing a wide variety of crops including grapes for wine. The Golan Heights were part of Syria and were captured by Israel as a result of the 1967 war. One major note of caution is the area is littered with mines that are still active today.

Mount Bental Observatory

Located in the Golan Heights is Mount Bental Observatory. From the top of this volcanic cone are the remains of a military outpost. From here you can see the Syrian border and the town of Kuneitra which was captured by Israel in 1967, lost and regained in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and returned to Syria in the Disengagement Agreement. It is now a demilitarized zone which houses some United Nations observers.

Visiting this observation point gives one a sense of just how precarious the Israeli situation is in the face of its enemies. Although this border with Syria is probably the quietest relative to that shared with Lebanon and Jordan, recent “secret” talks between the two countries do not appear to be progressing and it is possible that this could be the site of military activity in the future.

Kibbutzim

A kibbutz (Hebrew: קיבוץ, קִבּוּץ, lit. “gathering, clustering”; plural kibbutzim) is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. The kibbutz is a form of communal living that combines socialism and Zionism. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, but have gradually embraced a more “scientific” Socialist approach. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Although less than five percent of Israelis live on kibbutzim, they are disproportionately represented in key positions and high-status fields.

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