Golan Heights in Hebrew Ramat HaGolan is the northernmost part of Israel, east of the Galilee. It is in Israel’s hands since the Six Day War of June 1967.
Today it is one of the most beautiful sites in Israel and one of the top attractions for Israelis and tourists alike. Some people come back and back again due to the ample area for touring, the many sources of water and springs and many historical and archaeological sites.
Once you are on top of the heights the view is awe inspiring, you may see the whole Galilee and on a clear day the waters of the Mediterranean, next to the mountains of Lebanon.
Verdant Golan Heights on the slopes of Mount Hermon
The Six Day War
I have my personal story about this place. Before the war when the Syrians used the Golan to constantly bombard the settlements of the Jordan Valley and to infiltrate people to kill and steal in the Israeli side, when children of the kibbutzim and Moshavim slept endless nights in shelters, I spend a full month serving in the area trying to capture those people.
Then during the war, actually on the fifth day we went up to the Golan and reached the Syrian city of Quneitra and stayed there and on Mt Hermon for a full month. At that time I left at home a young wife and two little girls.
Well, this was many years ago and the Golan of today has no resemblance with the dark and dirty place we encounter after the Syrians fled the scene.
Lush vegetation and beautiful fields on the Golan
The Golan Heights Law
On 14 December 1981, the Knesset passed The Golan Heights Law by a vote of 63-21. Its first paragraph states:
"The law, jurisdiction, and administration of the state shall apply to the Golan Heights."
Following the passage of this law, the Israeli military administration on the Heights was dismantled and regular civilian authorities were established. The Golan's Druze residents are permitted to maintain their previous citizenship, but were given the option of becoming full Israeli citizens. For various reasons, few have done so.
A Druze Village in the Golan
Inhabitants of the Golan
· Druze sector - There are approximately 17,000 Druze in the Golan today. Their living conditions are much better today compared to what they enjoyed during Syrian control. The proof to that are their brethren living under Syrian control in actuality.
Israel has invested substantial sums in infrastructure facilities like electricity and water systems. It has taken care of improvements to their elementary and secondary education, as well as agricultural help, job creation and the building of health clinics.
· Jewish sector - There are approximately 15,000 Jewish residents living in kibbutzim, Moshavim and communal settlements besides the city of Katzrin considered the capital of the Golan.
Agriculture and Cattle Raising on the Golan
It is based on three pillars: Agriculture, Industry and Tourism.
They produce a great variety of crops including grapes for wine. They also maintain large areas for cattle and sheep to support the production of dairy and meat products.
There is a substantial tourist infrastructure on the Golan, including the Mt. Hermon ski slopes, archaeological sites, hotels, restaurants, guest houses in some communities, and three Societies for the Protection of Nature Field schools.
How to get there
If you are in the area of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem it is a ride of almost two hours to reach it. But if you are already in Tiberias or any other site in the Galilee it’s just a short ride up the mountains and you are in the Golan. The Golan Heights is a long stretch of land from Mt Hermon in the north to the Kineret and the Jordan Valley on the south. So you can visit it south to north or vice versa.
You’ll find lots of activities in the Golan
The type of activities depends on the time of the year. Summer is very hot during the day and fair at night. But winter is very, very cold. It snows during the winter months.
My number one is Skiing on Mt Hermon. The snow covered Hermon is excellent for professionals and amateurs. It has a ski center with all the perks of any ski center in let’s say Colorado or Switzerland. Pardon me; I am trying to exaggerate a bit. But I have taken my grandchildren and we have a great time every time we go.
· Bird Watching
The area is idyllic for bird watchers. In the area of Gamla Nature Reserve you may see the eages nesting and many other birds that migrate from Africa to Europe and back according to the seasons.
The area has so many springs that it is a delight to visit and swim and even stay overnight with your tent in one of them. In spring and summer the area is covered by flowers. I know it not from personal experience but from hearing the stories of my 17 years and older grandchildren.
Boutique Wineries – It is known that the Golan Heights is the Israel place for the best wines that are consumed nowadays all over the world. You may visit the wineries and taste the wine. There are also many restaurants and some of them are on the Druze Villages in the northern Golan.
There are many archaeological sites like Banias, Gamla, Bethsaida and the ancient city of Katrzin. We are talking about each one in our web pages. The Golan has a rich history dating back to biblical times and features numerous archeological landmarks.
Country Lodging in the Golan
Afik Country Lodging Golan Heights
The Afik Country Lodging Kibbutz Hotel is located in Ein Gev. All guestrooms have all the amenities expected in a hotel of its class. Room amenities include air conditioning, desk, separate shower and tub, kitchenette, balcony/terrace, 24hr room service, shops, laundry service/dry cleaning, meeting facilities, disabled facilities. In addition, the guests can enjoy the leisure and sports facilities provided on the premises: outdoor pool, garden. Modern comfort and convenience are seamlessly combined to ensure the guests' satisfaction.
Merom Golan Country Lodging Golan Heights
Located 1,000 meters above sea level in the northern Golan Heights, Merom Golan Kibbutz Country Lodging offers guest rooms and family suites at the foot of the volcanic Mount Bental. Located just 45 minutes from Tiberias and all of its urban amenities and attractions, Merom Golan Country Lodging, near the historic and outdoor sites in the Golan Heights, offers an array of recreational activities, as well as restaurants and a cafe.
Merom Golan Kibbutz Country Lodging's 32 rooms and 40 chalets are air-conditioned and feature cable television, a refrigerator and kettle, while some rooms - and all of the chalets - offer a Jacuzzi. Guests can register for horseback tours through the Golan's majestic landscape, and may also go on jeep and ATV tours near the Syrian border, through the region's orchards and farmland.
Guests who are carnivores looking for a country-style restaurant need look no further than HaBokrim Restaurant (The Cowboys). The restaurant belongs to the Golan Heights Winery and ages its meats on the premises. The restaurant is open every day from noon to 11 p.m..
A visit to the Golan Heights is a must for tourists that want to understand the importance of this plateau for Israel’s security. One you stand on top and see the whole of northern Israel you will understand the threat that Israel encountered from the 1920’s until that historic day in June 1967.
Copyright Tuchman Israel Guide
2015 - 2018