Another in my ongoing posts from Israel:
After we left the Tel Saki Battle Memorial on Monday, we continued north, to the Quneitra Crossing, the only active border crossing between Syria and Israel, manned by U.N. forces. Several weeks ago Syrian rebels briefly seized the area on the Syrian side, and there still is fighting in the area.
Here is the view of the crossing from the recently opened Israeli Avital Volcanic Park. There was smoke rising in the distance, but it was hard to capture because of the lighting conditions:
We then headed to the nearby Golan Heights Wind Farm, which had a better view of the smoke rising from the area:
We then drove up to the Cafe Anan restaurant atop Mount Benatal, run by Merom Golan kibbutz. The name in Hebrew means coffee in the clouds, but also is a play on Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the U.N.
That spot received notoriety recently when BBC Watch, run by our Golan “guide” Hadar Sela, pointed out how the BBC erroneously called the spot an Israeli “army position” (which it changed after Hadar’s post). These were the only army soldiers we saw up there:
We then headed to the so-called Valley of Tears, where one of the major tank battles of the 1973 Yom Kippur War was fought. It’s hard to find on a satellite map, but this geolocation (also here) seems to be right:
The Heights of Courage (available for free online) by Avigdor Kahalani tells the story of the battle from the view of a participant. The battle also is the focus of the Prologue to Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears:
At the end of this day the troopers of the Barak and the 7th heard over their unit radio nets a message from Israeli Defense Forces High Command.
YOU HAVE SAVED THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.
And so they had. Yet outside Israel, except for schools in which men learn the profession of arms, this epic battle is strangely unremembered. As in the Six Day War of 1967, the more freewheeling operations in the Sinai were the ones that attracted the excitement and admiration of the world: bridging the Suez, the Battle of the ‘Chinese’ Farm, the encirclement of the Egyptian 3rd Army – this despite the fearful implications of the Golan fighting, which was far closer to home. Still, the survivors of those two brigades knew what they had done, and their officers could revel in the knowledge that among professional soldiers who know the measure of skill and courage that such a stand entails, their Battle for the Heights would be remembered with Thermopylae, Bastogne and Gloucester Hill.
This video explains the overall battle, including interviews with Kahalani :
And the capture of a Syrian soldier pulled from a tank:
As with all such battlefields, the setting is eerily serene decades later:
From there, north to Metula, the Lebanese border, and the “fake” Hezbollah village. For the next post.
The full series of posts from my trip to Israel:
- Metula and the fake Hezbollah village
- On the Golan Heights – The Valley of Tears
- On the Golan Heights – The Battle of Tel Saki
- On the road to Golan
- And then there were none (of the pre-Oslo Arab killers of Israelis left in prison)
- To Samaria and back
- A stone’s throw away from trouble in Jerusalem
- What explains Americans’ strong support for Israel?
- Trying to explain the Tea Party in Israel
- This Night In Jerusalem
- Good morning, Tel Aviv