Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A visit to the Eshta'ol Forest - Cyclamens and Poppies

A couple of days ago, a friend and I went in search of a calm, natural place to spend a couple of hours, and we found the Eshta'ol Forest, next to Ta'oz, in the Judean foothills.

We first found a strange lookout tower, the Harel Lookout Point. It turns out that this tower was first constructed during the 1948 war. A sign nearby reads: "The building that served until 1948 as Beit Jit's school stood on this spot. During the work on the Burma Road, the site was a Seventh Brigade outpost that guarded the detour. Today it is the site of a lookout tower for KKL forest rangers and the starting point for a trip along the marked section of the Burma Road." The Burma Road was built as an alternative route to the regular road to Jerusalem, which was very dangerous to Jewish travel because Arab fighters regularly shot at and ambushed the Jewish convoys. Because the road was nearly blockaded, Jerusalem was cut off from supplies from other parts of the country. The Burma Road enabled convoys to reach the Jewish parts of Jerusalem. The second map below is taken from Wikipedia Commons and shows the state of fighting in the area on June 11, 1948. It also shows the area of the Burma Road ("Route de Birmanie") and where the Seventh Brigade was stationed.As you can see, almost all of the villages were inhabited by Palestinian Arabs,  The villages were conquered and destroyed by the Haganah during the the war.

We walked behind the lookout tower and found a short trail that went into the woods, and found a beautiful site - fields full of cyclamens (called rakafet in Hebrew) interspersed with the occasional red poppy. There were other pretty flowers as well, but I don't know what they're called.

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