Golan Heights Day Tour

A brief military history of the Golan Heights

Exciting historical day tour. Starting from the slopes of the Golan and ends in the Syrian border. The tour will focus on the independence war, the war over the Golan Heights waters, the Yom Kippur war, up to the current Syrian civil war.

The Golan Heights is an area that was a stage or the arena of many historical and influential battles, which changed the face of human history. One example of such a battle was the Battle of Yarmouk, in the year of 636 AD, which took place at the southern slopes of the Golan Heights; the result of the battle was the total defeat of the Byzantine Empire's control of the area by the Arab armies. This battle allowed the new Islamic Caliphate to form in the Middle East.

Due to its strategic geographical location, the Golan Heights was always an important asset to all kind of cultures through the ages, in order for them to be able to control the whole area, between Damascus and Jerusalem. The western slopes of the Golan Heights stretch above the Sea of Galilea, the Hula Valley and lake and the Jordan River.

Golan Heights conflicts in the 20th century.

During War World I, when the British Empire had occupied the area, it was decided to relocate the border, between the British Mandate and the Syrian French Mandate, to the slopes of the Golan Heights. In that time, failures of the Jewish settlement movement in Golan Heights caused the border of Palestine to be pushed beneath the Heights.

Right after the birth of the new state of Israel, massive Syrian army forces were invading the new state from the Golan Heights and assaulted the Hebrew inhabitants of the area, in a desire to take control of the land and annihilate the newly emerged state of Israel. The new IDF army (which was just established from the Hagana, Etzel, Lehi and other Jewish militia groups), was conducting war with4 other Arab nations at the same time, on all the other borders of Israel and in side it, was very limited in the ability to concentrate enough forces in the Golan heights. The arrow heads of the Syrian attack were finally beaten and pulled back. But at the end of the war (Independence war of Israel), some enemy forces were still remaining in Israeli territory. The bitter seize fire agreement, after the war, forced Israel to agree to a demilitarization of the areas held by the Syrian army on top of the heights. In the next years, Israel kept the agreement of seize fire, but the Syrian who never acknowledged the legitimacy of the State of Israel, were constantly opening in fire towards the cities and Kibbutz's of the area. Israel than stroke back with its own force but was unsuccessful to harm the Syrian forces that were drenched well on the top of the Golan Heights. The Syrians were supporting Terrorist groups as well, firing mortar fire and setting bombs inside Israel. They also attacked Israel with moderns Russian Jet planes and artillery. During the years, especially in the 1950th, the conflict mainly focused on the issue of the Jordan River and other water sources of the Golan Heights. Israel was to use the Jordan River waters to produce electricity and was constructing a new power plant, and also started to build a water system from the Sea and Galilea and the Jordan River. The Syrian army with their Russian support, were able to sabotage those constructions over at the B'not Ya'acov bridge area, so Israeli was constructing a new pipe system next Tabja in the Sea of Galilea. This massive construction was finished in June 1964 and the Arab nations were furious and couldn't consent with this new development, so they started to convert as much as water as they could from the Jordan River sources. This were illegal actions by any standard of international law;

  1. Lebanon started to convert the stream of the Hatsbani River towards Syria.
  2. Syria was constructing a tunnel to avert the Hatzbani River further into Syria and also averted the Banias River water, both to the Yarmuk River stream inside Syria.
  3. Jordan was to build a dam that will restrain the Yarmuk River and block it away from Israeli territory, south to the Sea of Galilea and Naharayim. The plan was to steal all the water from the Jordan River further away from Israel into Jordan's inland and lead it back into the Dead Sea.

Six Days War, view of Israel from the Golan Heights  Six Days War. Golan Heights - destroyed Israeli tanks. Six Days War. on the way up to the Golan Heights. Six Days War in the Golan Heights

In this manner, the Arab countries threatened almost half of the Israeli water source. This would have led to the total breakdown of the water supply to Israel and to the Salting of the Sea of Galilea. Such actions were unacceptable by Israel, so first the Israeli government turned to diplomatic efforts to stop these actions via the UN, but all efforts were annihilated by the UN, and striped Israel from its legitimacy to use its own waters. The downhill road to escalation was very slippery. Israel had to use its forces to prevent this scheme and defend its waters. During the years of 1964 and 1967 (When the Six Day War broke) there was a "War over the water" between Israel and Syria. Lebanon had abandoned the scheme out of fear of the Israeli harsh reaction but the Syrian was more ambitious and fought. As Israeli forces were destroying the Syrian construction efforts and Syrian artillery, tanks and jet fighters, the Syrian army bombed the neighboring cities and Kibbutz's beneath the heights, as they were such easy targets from above. Sometime dogfights between the Israeli and Syrian air forces were conducted. The children of the Kibbutz were raised inside shelters, and were nicknamed "The Shelters children". Then begin the Six Days War. The IDF was fighting in a very dangerous line of fire in the Golan Heights. The army encountered millions of land mines, 6 infantry divisions, 5 battalions of the Syrian republic elite guard, 250 tanks well drenched and plenty of artillery. After two frustrating days of fight the IDF took control of the whole Golan Heights, and the artillery of the Israeli army was now threatening Damascus. When the Six Days War was ended, Israel got an astonishing victory but with the cost of hundreds of wounded and dead soldiers. The Golan Heights is now in Israeli hands, but than in October 1973, Syria surprised again with an attack, when the Yom Kippur War started, and inserted, again, a massive amount of tanks into the Golan Heights. Only by heroic efforts, the IDF was able to block the Syrian invasion and in the cost of thousands of deaths.

 

Yom Kippur War, Golan Heights Yom Kippur War. Golan Heights - Israeli abandoned tank

 

Plan a day tour to the Golan Heights

We'll climb up its slopes and visit the Syrian old fortifications, with a view to the valley below. Then, while crossing the Heights and reaching its inner areas, we'll learn about the heroic fighting that took places there in modern and ancient times. Since the October war, the Golan Heights has enjoyed a peaceful state – but in the other side of the border, at Syria the situation has lately escalated into bitter civil war and brutality. We'll learn about the history behind the current situation in the area, watch deep into Syria, visit the wonderful wildlife of the Golan Heights, learn about ancient and modern history in the area and visit heritage locations. In this day tour we will recommend you to take time to visit the Banias stream, Namrud castle, the ancient city of Dan tribe and the remnants of the ancient city of Panias, the Druze villages and also a Jeep Tour.

 

For more information on the Golan Heights please contact us.

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