January 7th 2014
The landmark Tel Facher military base overlooks the majestic Hula Valley from atop the Golan Heights. Visitors today can experience Tel Facher in nearly the same way it looked in 1967, when Israeli forces bravely captured the base from Syrian hands. The most visible difference is the addition of a memorial that was added to the site to commemorate the Golani soldiers who lost their lives here in an ultimately successful effort to stop years of Syrian fire on the civilian communities below.
Visitors who stop here as part of their tours of northern Israel can walk around the base while listening to prerecorded commentary in English. It’s still possible to descend into the trenches that were dug by Syrians troops and to walk through the narrow bunkers that protected the Syrians from counterattacks during their years of aggression against Israel. Flying next to the Israeli flag is the yellow and green flag of the Golani Battalion. The ironwork surrounding the monument features a Star of David pattern and the names of each of the fallen soldiers are inscribed on the low wall surrounding the memorial.
The battle here was a bloody one. Lasting just a few hours, very few of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers involved survived. Israeli troops did eventually prevail, but all in all, 32 were slain in battle here. One of the most well known heroes of the battle was a young man named David Shirazzi. Knowing he would not survive the battle, Private Shirazzi used his body as a bridge over a barbed wire fence so that his fellow soldiers could cross. Indeed, he was killed just after the last of his comrades made it over. As a result of the bravery shown in the battle for Tel Facher, four medals of valor were later awarded.
Before 1967, Tel Facher and the rest of the Golan was held by hostile Syrian forces. Between the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the Six Day War of 1967, Syrian troops stationed at Tel Facher used the strategic location, high in the Golan Heights, to terrorize the Israeli settlements in the valley. When the decision was made to put an end to the Syrian intimidation of innocent Israeli civilians as part of the 1967 campaign, the battle for Tel Facher ensued. Soldiers from the Golani Brigade were sent to secure Tel Facher. As a result, the base is also known today as Mitzpe Golani, the Golani Lookout.