BY LYDIA AISENBERG
THE Adamit Heights, part of the Rosh Hanikra ridge separating Israel from Lebanon, offer some of the most breathtaking views.
On a good day, the 400 metres above sea level JNF-KKL lookout points and trails perched above steep cliffs afford views along the Israeli coastline from Rosh Hanikra toward Acre and the Haifa bay area, as well as undisturbed views over the Mediterranean.
At one’s feet, literally, a lush green valley — peppered with the red roofs of kibbutzim and moshavim — hills on the opposite side covered in natural and planted forests.
Standing at such a vantage point, surrounded by rich earth but rocky to the extreme, one understands even more so the achievements of those who chose a few generations back, to settle, struggle and suffer great hardships in order to successfully create the agricultural backbone of Israel’s northern borders.
The ascent to the JNF-KKL Adamit Park is not for the faint-hearted. One wonders how those who live in the kibbutzim, moshavim and Arab villages along this all-important strategic ridge cope with such a hazardous journey to and from their homes when the weather conditions are grim.
The twisting, turning spiral ascent is an amazing experience as the views switch from the coast, to valley, to rock and cave formations, deep gullies, crevices, cracks in rocks with springtime colourful wild flowers blooming around their edges — and so much more.
During the ascent, one passes a number of caves, one of which is named the Na’mer (Leopard) Cave.
Many years ago, a Bedouin shepherd following his flock of goats was attacked by a leopard while resting up in the cave. The shepherd bravely fought off he leopard with his stave so the story goes.
As in so many places throughout Israel, among the beautiful scenery, flora and fauna of the forests and parks, one will find JNF-KKL scenic lookouts that are memorials dedicated to Israeli soldiers who died serving in the Israel Defence Forces and, in some areas, civilian victims of terror attacks.
A number of such memorials can be found in the Adamit Park, one of which is in memory of five IDF soldiers killed in July, 2006, just a short journey along the mountain ridge from the park itself.
Shani Turgeman, Wasim Salah Nazal and Eyal Banim were killed by Hezbollah terrorists as they patrolled the security fence along the northern border with fellow soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were abducted, bringing about the Second Lebanese War.
Five two metre high rocks are embedded with the names and powerful, emotional stories of each of the fallen soldiers and, nearby, an information board gives more details of that fateful day.
In the narrow space between the memorials of Turgeman, Nazal and Banim, one can clearly see the Israel-Lebanon security fence and patrol road winding its way across the mountain ridge toward the sea.
Also visible is a swath of Lebanon and Hezbollah flags on the other side of the fence and patrol road.
Leaving the Adamit Park and passing through the sizeable Bedouin town of Arab al-Aramshe, part of which is physically in Lebanon, snow-capped mountains of southern Lebanon in the near distance, the British-built border hugging road continues on to the moshavim further along the mountain ridge.
After a short distance one passes a yellow iron gate, two large concrete blocks on either side.
The driver stops, points out that this is the spot where the Hezbollah attacked the patrol on that fateful day back in the summer of 2006.
A sign in Hebrew advertising a local Israeli ice-cream shop is attached to a fence around Zarit fields, the security fence running underneath the Lebanese homes on the hilltop: the site where the patrol were attacked in 2006.
Moshav Zarit, sits just a few hundred metres from the Lebanese border fence. The moshav fields and orchards end where the fence and patrol road begin.
Driving along the outer perimeter of the moshav, Lebanese cars driving past large houses nearby on the other side of the fence, a huge mound of soil sits between a number of greenhouses belonging to Israeli farmers of Zarit.
The mound of soil is the exit of a Hezbollah tunnels, which was discovered recently.
Zarit and a number of other moshavim in the mountains that fall under the Maale Yosef Regional Council were founded in the 1960s as part of an operation to strengthen the Jewish population in the area.
With the rugged topography not exactly inducive to agriculture, the stalwart newcomers began with building up poultry farms and, following the clearing of some of the land, planted fruit orchards — and suffered rocket attacks from their none-too-friendly neighbours at different periods of time.
In its formative years, Zarit was known as Kfar Rosenwald, named after an American philanthropist of the same name.
Apparently, the first residents who moved to the new community didn’t quite take to the name of their new home and wanted something more Hebrew sounding, so switched to Zarit.
However ths became somewhat embarrassing when the philanthropist decided to pay them a call; the villagers explaining that Zarit was simply an acronym for — Zekher Rosenwald Imanu Yisha’er Tamid (ZRIYT) — translating to ‘Rosenwald’s memory will be with us always’.
As the journey continues further north, the vistas on either side of the road, both over Israel and Lebanon, are astounding but one is constantly reminded of the fragility of the peacefulness on the mountain tops by not a small number of rusty yellow signs, the red wording upon which reminding one — ‘Beware, Border Ahead’.
More than 120 IDF soldiers lost their lives in the Second Lebanon War, all of whom are commemorated in a phenomenal JNF-KKL constructed observation platform, part of which juts out from the side of Mount Adir, sitting at more than 1,000 metres above sea level.
Inaugurated six years after the war, the deck area contains metal shield-shaped plaques — the names of the soldiers punched out.
“The goal of this memorial was to connect us, the parents, to the place where our sons went with their heads held high and laid down their lives for the State of Israel,” said David Einhorn, the father of fallen soldier Yonatan Einhorn, at the dedication ceremony.
“This connection takes on great importance, since we hope that the site will become a legacy for the younger generation who will learn about the war and know its heroes.”
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