Jezreel Plain Attractions Emeq Yizre'el (HaEmeq)
Situation and characteristicsThe large and fertile valley of the Jezreel plain, frequently referred to merely as HaEmeq (the Valley), extends southeastward from the bay north of Haifa to the Jordan valley between the upland regions of Samaria and Galilee. The Arabs call it Marj Ibn Amr; its Old Testament name is the plain of Esdraelon.The Jezreel plain is the largest valley in Israel and one of its most fertile regions. To the southwest the Iron valley forms a transition to the plain of Sharon. Megiddo, strategically situated on the Iron pass, was a place of great military importance from ancient times to the present century. As a zone of passage and an area of great fertility the Jezreel plain has been frequently fought over in the course of history, notably in the time of Deborah (Judges 5,19) and Gideon (Judges 7,5).SettlementsThe chief town and traffic junction point in the Jezreel plain is Afula.In 1938 the kibbutz of Yizre'el was founded on the road between Afula and Jenin, which broadly follows the watershed between the eastern and western halves of the plain. It was one of the many Jewish settlements established after the Jewish National Fund began in 1910 to buy up land in the area, which since 1870 had belonged to Lebanese landowners. The kibbutz occupies the site of a palace of King Ahab of Israel, who built a palace on it (1 Kings 21). Here too Ahab's wife Jezebel and his son Joram were killed by his successor Jehu (2 Kings 9,27 and 33). Ahab's palace was later destroyed by the Persians.On the tell adjoining the kibbutz are remains of the Crusader castle of Le Petit Gérin and its church; there are fine views from the top of the hill.