Apr 15

Israeli History – Historical Places in Israel – Atlit

The Town of Atlit in Northern Israel is situated on the Mediterranean coast South of Haifa. It was originally a Crusader outpost. In 1903 the new village was founded with the help of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.

Atlit is best known for the place where the British built a military camp in 1938 and was used by them as a temporary holding Camp from 1939 until 1948. At first thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Europe were detained in the camp and later it was used for holocaust survivors deemed to be illegal immigrants to Palestine. This was a direct result of the infamous “White Paper” that limited the number of Jews that would be allowed into the country.

Boats, which were arranged by the Mossad and operated by the Haganah and volunteers from the Diaspora carrying refugees from the Holocaust and from Arab Countries, would arrive covertly late at night to unfrequented beaches in Israel. Many of the boats were intercepted by the British and the people were taken ashore and transported to Atlit, some managed to avoid British Patrol Boats and the immigrants actually made it to shore but were ambushed by the British on the beaches and rounded up and sent to Atlit. The Atlit Camp had barbed wire around it and armed guards.

One of the most heroic stories of those times is that of the bold and brilliant Palmach military operation led by Nahum Sarig Palmach and Yitzchak Rabin on the 10th October 1945 who successfully broke into the Atlit illegal immigrant detention camp and freed all 280 detainees who escaped and made their way on foot to Kibbutz Yagur, a distance of approximately 5 km from the camp.

After 1948 the camp was used as an absorption centre for the thousands of Holocaust survivors and refugees from surrounding Arab Countries.

Today the Atlit Detention centre is a national monument.  In 1987 the Council for Israel Heritage Sites was allocated part of the 25 acres of the original camp to reconstruct and serve as a museum for visitors to learn about this very special time in Israel’s history. It enables visitors to have a firsthand experience of how traumatic it was for the immigrants detained there in conditions very much like those they had been subjected to in the extermination camps.

There is a ship at the site that is comparable in size and appearance to the ships that were used to transport the immigrants, a model of the barracks that housed the prisoners as well as a model of the reception area which was extremely traumatic as the detainees had to remove their clothes to be disinfected and had to shower, all bringing back memories of the concentration camps that they had recently been rescued from. Atlit also has a memorial to those who died while making their way by land and sea to the Land of Israel.

Mar 20

Golan Heights – Northern Israel – Israel

The Golan Heights is situated in the north of Israel and borders on Syria.    The area had been part of the Ottoman Empire and after the First World War it became included in the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine.  However this was changed when in 1923 an agreement was reached between Britain and France ceding the Golan Heights to French Mandated Syria.

 

Golan Heights IsraelAfter 1948 the Golan Heights became the Armistice Line between Syria and Israel and for 18 years the Syrians used the high positions on the Golan to attack Israel by shelling Kibbutzim and settlements in the Galilee as well as Israeli water projects in the Hula valley.

 

 

In June 1967 during the 6 Day War Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria and in 1973 defended its position after a heavy attack by Syrian armored forces and at great cost.  Israel counter attacked and drove deep into Syria only to withdraw later but remain on the Heights.  In 1981 Legislation was passed in the Knesset that replaced the Military Authority and extended Israeli Civil Laws and Administration to the Golan Heights.

 

 

 

 

Today the region of the Golan Heights in Northern Israel is a magnificent mountainous area extremely popular with local holidaymakers and visitors from abroad offering a wide variety of activities, glorious scenic vistas, interesting Nature Reserves and many archeological and historic places of interest.

Golan Heights IsraelThe region of the Golan Heights comprises lush agricultural land in the South and awe-inspiring volcanic topography further north.  There are activities year found. Winter offers opportunities for both professional and amateur skiers alike to take advantage of the snow covered slopes of Mt Hermon. Summer is a perfect time for swimming in the many streams, spring brings with it a plethora of beautiful wild flowers and the pleasing autumn weather is perfect for hikers. Not to be forgotten are visits to the many boutique wineries in the area.

The Golan Heights is truly a beautiful place to visit and the many guest houses offer a wide variety of accommodation and many excellent restaurants to suit all tastes.

Mar 01

Israel – Holy Land Biblical Sites – Megiddo

Megiddo also known as Armageddon (mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible), is a Unesco World Heritage site situated in Northern Israel’s Jezreel Valley and is extensively regarded as the Holy Land’s most significant Biblical period site.

Megiddo in Northern IsraelArcheologists have uncovered the remnants of 26 civilizations at Tel Megiddo covering a period of 35 centuries and each surrounding valley and hill tells a biblical tale. Every army crossing this land in the past clashed in the area of Megiddo and in many cases decided the fate of empires which could explain why, in the Book of Revelation, Armageddon is named as the place where the great battle of “The End of  Days” will take place, when good will triumph over evil.

The excavations at Megiddo began in 1903 and it has since become the cradle of Israeli archeology answering practically every question that relates to the Iron and Bronze Ages in the Land of the Bible. The history of the city of Megiddo goes back approximately 5000 years but was completely destroyed during the Persian Invasion about 2,300 years ago, the only thing left is the ruins of King Solomon’s stables and fortress and the excavations of 26 civilizations.

Tel Megiddo - IsraelTunnel at Megiddo IsraelIn 2005 only a short way down the road from Megiddo an astonishing discovery was made. When digging was carried out for the purpose of expanding a prison in the area a mosaic floor was discovered which had inscriptions written in Greek.  One was in honour of a woman called Akeptos which read “lover of God, who contributed the Table to God, Jesus Christ as a memorial”   Archeologists are in the process of renovating the site and believe that the inscriptions could make this the oldest Christian Church that has ever been found.

During the first ever visit of a Pope to the Holy Land in 1964, Megiddo was chosen as the place for the historic meeting of Pope Paul the VI and the President of the State of Israel.

It also was the archeological site used as the background of James Michener’s famous bestselling book “The Source”.

Feb 15

Israel – Cities in North Israel – Nazareth

The Israeli city of Nazareth is located in Northern Israel in the heart of the Galilee region. Approximately 25 km from the Sea of Galilee and 9 km from Mount Tabor, it is the largest Arab city in Israel inhabited by both Christian and Muslim Israeli Arabs. There are also many Jewish Israelis living in Upper Nazareth.

View of NazarethNazareth is regarded as “the Cradle of Christianity” because it was here, according to tradition, that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary the news of her conception by the Holy Spirit’s power. It was also the place where Jesus spent the years of his childhood and youth.  Most people who come on a tour of the Holyland will visit Nazareth.

Basilica of Annunciation Nazareth, IsraelAbout 2000 years ago Nazareth was a small Jewish village which, during the Byzantine period, became a Christian stronghold and soon became a very popular place of pilgrimage because of its connection to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Soon the building of churches began, the first being that of the Church of the Annunciation which was placed at the site of the home of Joseph and Mary. Many churches were built over the years, destroyed and rebuilt as the rulers changed from Christian to Muslim over the centuries.

The 19th century bought about renewed interest as Christians returned to take up residence in Nazareth and began to rebuild the Churches and monasteries.  Today there are approximately 30 churches as well as mosques and ancient synagogues. The Basilica of the Annunciation heads the list of places to see. It is modern and was consecrated in 1969 after being built over the foundations of previous structures from the Byzantine and Crusader periods. The dome of the Basilica rises 55 meters high and shaped like a Madonna lily which symbolizes the Virgin Mary.

Other places to visit in Nazareth are St Joseph’s Church located next to the Basilica of the Annunciation. This church has an underground cavern that is believed to contain Joseph’s workshop and the Synagogue Church traditionally thought to have been the original synagogue where Jesus studied, prayed and preached when he was young.

The Nazareth Village is well worth a visit. It is a reconstruction of Jewish lifestyle at the time of Jesus and what Nazareth was like 2000 years ago. Visitors are greeted by authentically dressed inhabitants and the parables of Jesus are brought to life in their original setting.

A tour of Nazareth’s old city is completed by a visit to the market with its colorful souvenir, artwork, spice as well as lovely fabric stalls and enjoying some of the local foods. Your authentic Middle Eastern experience will be complete.

Accommodation is available in Christian Hostels and excellent Hotels to serve the needs of the tourists who visit the area in large numbers especially around Christmas time when the city is really beautiful with wonderful decorations and its holy ambience. There are also many restaurants serving delicious foods that attract visitors throughout the year.