Hule Plain Attractions Emeq Hula
Situation and characteristicsThe Hule plain (Emeq Hula) in northern Israel extends from Dan on the Lebanese frontier to Hazor in the south, and is bounded on the east by the Golan Heights and on the west by the hills of Lebanon. The valley is one of the largest drainage basins and agricultural areas in Israel.For many centuries the Hule plain was marshy and malaria-ridden. After the Egyptian general Ibrahim Pasha conquered Palestine from the Turks (1830-40) he had a passage blasted through the volcanic rocks to the south of the Benot Ya'aqov Bridge to allow water to flow more readily into the Jordan. His program for bringing the land into cultivation with the help of fellahin brought in from Egypt could not be carried out because of political developments, and the area was inhabited only by a few Bedouin with their water buffaloes.In 1883 Jewish immigrants founded the village of Yesud HaMa'ala, 15km/9mi northeast of Rosh Pinna. In the difficult early days Baron Edmond de Rothschild helped in the draining of the marshland by planting eucalyptus trees, which are great consumers of water. Large-scale drainage operations began, however, only after the acquisition of land by the Jewish National Fund in 1934, and this work was continued on a systematic basis between 1951 and 1958. More recently the drainage operations have been associated with the National Water Carrier which conveys water from Galilee to the southern parts of the country. The construction of canals and the deepening and straightening of the Jordan have led to the disappearance of the marshes and the creation of fertile agricultural land. There are now also fish farms as well as fields.SettlementsThe improved living conditions have led to the establishment of several new farming settlements. 1940 saw the establishment, 6km/4mi southeast of Qiryat Shemona, of the villages of Amir and Sede Nehemya, near which the rivers Hazbani, Dan and Banyas join to form the Jordan, and of Bet Hillel, 4km/2.5mi east of Qiryat Shemona. They were followed in 1946 by Ne'ol Mordekhay, 8km/5mi south of Qiryat Shemona, and in 1948 by Hagoshrim, 5km/3mi east of Qiryat Shemona on the northern edge of the Hule plain. On the northwestern edge of the Hule plain is Qiryat Shemona, now a town with a population of 15,500, which was founded in 1949 on the site of an abandoned Arab village as a camp for new immigrants. From here two roads run south, one in the valley and the other, to the west, skirting the Lebanese frontier, with fine views of the Hule plain.
Hule Nature Reserve
15km/9mi north of Rosh Pinna on the road to Qiryat Shemona a narrow road goes off on the right to the Hule Nature Reserve. The reserve has largely been left in its original state. Beyond the picnic areas at the entrance are paths leading through the marshy landscape with its unique flora and fauna, including a variety of waterfowl, wild cats, wild pigs, beavers and herds of water buffaloes. From an observation tower in the center of the reserve there are views over its whole area.
Horeshat Valley National Park
In Upper Galilee, 5km/3mi west of Qiryat Shemona, is the Horeshat (or Hurshat) Valley National Park (camping site), with a lake (bathing permitted) which is fed by the river Dan. Within the park are a number of gigantic oaks, some of which are said to be anything up to 2,000 years old. Legend has it that they were planted by ten of Mohammed's soldiers who were encamped in this area and, finding no trees to tether their horses to, stuck stakes into the ground which grew overnight into tall oak-trees.