Golan Heights

The Golan Heights are again in the news. With the Assad/Iran victory in Syria, the Iranians and their proxies are moving up to the border and close to the Golan Heights which are so strategically vital to Israel. Geography in Israel is everything - not surprising in such a small country and particularly one surrounded by enemies - and the Golan Heights dominate Galilee and the north of the country. It was here, during the Yum Kippur war that an existential tank battle took place and where Israel stood on the verge of defeat - a battle that is still remembered with a shudder in that country.

We visited it in the early morning, leaving Nazareth in our hire car to drive round Lake Galilee (on the shores of which we ate St Peter’s Perch). It is surrounded by farms that became fewer and fewer as we climbed the heights. It is (or certainly was then) an obvious buffer zone becoming bleaker and bleaker the higher we climbed. There were abandoned tanks from 1973 and ruined villages and little sign of much life except shepherds and their goats.

The view from the top into Syria and Lebanon was spectacular - but more interesting was the view back into Israel that explained the importance of the Heights. Anyone holding them dominates the area.

It is now, once again, the front line with rockets and Hezbollah fighters pressing closer. I doubt there will be much tourism there now.
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