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The Mitzpe Gadot (Gadot Lookout) War Memorial

From this lookout you can see over the entire Upper Galilee. You will also appreciate the significance of Syrian shelling from this height on Israeli settlements in the Hula Valley below prior to the Six-Day War, particularly Kibbutz Gadot. There is also a memorial here for soldiers from the 33rd battalion who lost their lives fighting for this and an adjacent site during the 1967 Six-Day War, and soldiers killed during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1982 Lebanon campaign.

The fortified Syrian position here overlooked the Jordan River and Hula Valleys, and protected the main road to Quneitra against a possible Israeli attack. From 1948 until the Six-Day War, the Syrians shelled Israeli settlements in the valley below. Agricultural workers had to work in the fields behind tanks and children spent much of their time in shelters. Kibbutz Gadot, which is on the west side of the Jordan River and a bit beyond the Beit Yaakov Bridge, is just below this position and its buildings were destroyed twice by shelling. On the second occasion, over a thousand shells were fired on the kibbutz. Only after the Six-Day War, when the Golan Heights was in Israeli hands, were kibbutz members able to lead normal tranquil lives.

WALK TO THE LOOKOUT, MEMORIAL AND BUNKERS

 

Time: About 30 minutes total.

Distance: About ¾ Km there and back.

Type of walk: One-way path there and back.

Difficulty: An easy trail along a concrete path which is stroller and wheelchair friendly.

Directions: Enter “Mitzpe Gadot” into Waze. The parking lot is just beyond the turning from the road.

Public transport:  Enter "Gadot Lookout" into Moovit. There are frequent buses via a bus line between Katzrin and Chazor Hagliglit and another between Haifa and Katzrin and both stop at this lookout.

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  • From the parking lot walk up the hill to the memorial. It is made of concrete and shaped like the entrance to a shelter.

 

  • ​Just beyond the memorial is a recording in Hebrew or English explaining the significance of this site.

 

  • Walk along the path to the far bunker for a good view of the valley below.

You will see a sign pointing out the settlements below that were threatened by Syrian guns. After the Six-Day War, when looking at the destruction on Kibbutz Gadot below caused by the Syrians, the brigade commander commented: "From here you seem sevenfold bigger!" By this he meant to extol their courage in keeping the kibbutz going for the 19 years since the War of Independence. These words were put on a stone near the sign.  

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A Syrian bunker position from before the Six Day War.

The Six-Day War

 

The 1967 Six-Day War changed the territorial landscape of the Middle East; particularly that of Israel. That this war happened at all was due to misinformation and miscalculations on the part of the military alliance between Egypt and Syria, and later with Jordan.

 

Since Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, the armistice line between Israel and Syria had been an unstable one, and there was little deterrence for Syria to continue shelling Israeli settlements beneath the Golan Heights. It seems that Egypt was informed by Russia that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian border, which was untrue. The Egyptian president Nasser therefore massed his troops and demanded that the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) leave the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza. UNEF promptly did so, and Egypt took over UNEF positions at Sharm-el-Sheik overlooking the Straits of Tiran, and announced the closure of the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping. Israel had repeatedly declared that such a closure would be justification for war, as it effectively detached Israel from Asia and Africa. The role of UNEF was to prevent exactly this scenario. To extricate itself from this situation, Israel had little choice but to initiate a pre-emptive attack against Egypt and Syria, an attack for which neither of these two countries was prepared.

 

On May 5 Israel took a tremendous gamble by committing most of its air force to a surprise attack on Egyptian airfields. The entire Egyptian air force was effectively wiped out. Israel did the same to two-thirds of the Syrian air force. From this point on, Israel had complete air superiority over its enemies. Israel also launched a ground offensive into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip.

 

There was no initial Israeli plan to take over the Golan Heights, although the conflict with Syria was one of the main reasons for the outbreak of this war. Nevertheless, the army felt it would be too costly. Israel had full information about the positions of the Syrian fortifications from the previous spying of Eli Cohen. However, attacking the fortification in the Golan would have to be done while advancing uphill over rocky terrain, putting Israeli forces at a tremendous disadvantage. Nevertheless, there was now considerable pressure on the politicians and army to finally settle the problem of Syria. Egypt, Syria and the world powers were already clamoring for a ceasefire. It was now or never – and on the morning of June 9, Israel went on the offensive. The Syrian fortifications were too strong to be destroyed by air power and they had to be captured by infantry with close quarter fighting. It was costly in terms of human life on both sides, but by the evening the Israeli army had broken through the first line of Syrian defense. Fearing decimation of their entire forces, the Syrians made a quick retreat, and by June 10, the entire Golan Heights was in Israeli hands. A ceasefire with Syria was signed the next day.

 

Raised on Biblical narrative, many Israelis saw the victory of the Six-Day War in almost miraculous terms. Achieving a decisive victory in only six days against three protagonists had never been described in the annals of ancient and modern warfare. There were also some strange coincidences. The attacking wave of Israeli aircraft on the first day of the war was detected by a new Jordanian radar, but the Egyptians were unable to decipher the communicating code. It had been changed that morning and the Jordanians were still using the old code. The Egyptians ordered their anti-aircraft units to cease any firing between 7.00 to 8.00 a.m. because of an air tour scheduled by the Egyptian Deputy Minister and War Minister over Sinai with an Iraqi delegation. Any firing had to be approved. This was the exact time of the Israeli attack. A usual aircraft reconnaissance mission was also delayed that morning after being scheduled for 7.30 am when the Deputy Commander left his home late because of a party for pilots the previous evening. Plus, the Egyptians failed to tell the Jordanians, who were their allies, that their air force had been decimated. Under Egyptian command, the Jordanians initiated firing into Israel, even though Israel begged them to stay out of this war. This would lead to the loss of their West Bank and the capture of Jerusalem after Israel was forced to respond,

 

In sum, this victory in a six-day war provided Israel with the strategic depth it needed in Judea, Samaria and the Golan. Capture of the Golan also enabled Israel to control its water sources. While there was considerable ambivalence in the Israeli government about what to do with the West Bank, this was not the case for the Golan Heights. The entire Golan Heights was annexed in 1981. No overtures for peace had been forthcoming from Syria prior to this time.

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