Interesting Historical Battlegrounds to Visit in Israel

January 30th 2019

Given Israel’s ancient history and location as a crossroads between three continents, it’s not surprising there have been many battles and wars fought on her soil. Wherever you go in Israel you’re never far from a significant historical battleground.

Wars have been waged throughout the land right from before the time of King Saul and the First Temple era. Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, and Europeans have all invaded, conquered, been defeated, and left their permanent mark on the history of this fascinating region.

And it’s on the many historical battlegrounds right across Israel where their stories, and those of the Jewish people, can be found.

Here are 5 locations to visit which provide a glimpse into Israel’s battle-scarred past:

Jerusalem

From the time King David attacked and captured the city in 1010 BCE to the battles of the Six Day War in 1967, Jerusalem has seen more warfare than perhaps any city on Earth. The religious significance of the Holy City and its importance to the three Abrahamic religions, has meant continual struggles for dominance especially between warring Christian and Muslim armies during the Crusader-era.

Today, signs of this turbulent history can be seen in the architecture (Old City Ramparts Walk), foundations (Western Wall Tunnels), ruins (The Burnt House), museums, and cultural narratives that form the bedrock of this amazing city.

Megiddo

Another site to rival Jerusalem when it comes to the frequency of battles is the ancient city of Megiddo, located in the Lower Galilee region of north Israel. The remains of the ancient city and military stronghold rest upon a hill that was once a strategic vantage overlooking an important old land route. The city (often mentioned in the Old Testament) changed hands numerous times and countless battles were fought within its walls.

Masada Interesting Historical Battlegrounds to Visit in Israel

The ancient city of Masada, situated on a rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, has been the site of many a conflict. However, the city is most well-known for the siege that took place in the year 73 CE. Jewish rebels against Roman occupation were besieged by Roman forces. Unable to escape, the 960 Jewish zealots elected to commit mass suicide rather than be captured alive. A museum on the site provides visitors with a more in-depth retelling of this heroic tale.

The Valley of Tears Interesting Historical Battlegrounds to Visit in Israel

Located in the Golan Heights, between Mount Hermon and Mount Bental, the ‘Valley of Tears’ was the scene of Israel’s largest ever tank battle during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was a heroic struggle by an Israeli tank force (of 160 tanks) completely outnumbered by the Syrian enemy (with more than a 1000 tanks). In the end the Israelis were reduced to just 7 tanks but not before destroying 600 of the enemy’s and forcing the Syrians to retreat. Today the site features memorials and the remains of several tanks.

Ha-Palmach Cave

A few miles south of Haifa is a cave hidden inside a forest. The Ha-Palmach Cave has a fascinating history as a former training ground of the famous Palmach, which formed part of the Haganah (the underground Jewish army of pre-State Israel). The Palmach units used the secret cave to develop tactics and strategies against the British and Arab armies. The site was also the scene of a bloody battle in 1944 between the Palmach and an Arab force which sought to seize the nearby Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek.

Today, visitors can tour the cave, enjoy stories and songs around nightly campfires, and take strolls along the walking trails of the Menashe Forest.


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