Postcard from Israel – Mitzpe Gadot.

On the old Tsfat (Safed) to Damascus road, about 5 kms east of the Bnot Ya’akov Bridge which spans the Jordan River and just before the Customs House Junction where the old French ‘Douane’ building from Mandate days still stands, lies Mitzpe Gadot

Until 1967, this was the site of a large Syrian military post named Murtafa which dominated the Hula valley below. In particular, it was the source of repeated attacks on Kibbutz Gadot – established in 1949 on the site of the former moshava Mishmar HaYarden (established in 1890) which had been destroyed by the Syrians on June 10th, 1948 during the War of Independence. On April 7th, 1967 more than 300 Syrian shells fell on Gadot in 40 minutes. Two months later, as its residents were still busy rebuilding their homes, the kibbutz was once again destroyed by Syrian shelling. 

During the years between 1949 and 1967, a generation of children who came to be known as the ‘shelters generation’ grew up in Gadot and many other nearby villages and kibbutzim and it was this difficult reality which led a delegation from the area to press the Prime Minister of the time, Levi Eshkol, to capture the Golan Heights during the last day and a half of the Six Day War. 

As the sounds of war fell silent, the famous song about ‘a girl from Gadot’ was penned and when the Israeli forces reached the Syrian base of Murtafa, the commander Colonel Emanuel (Mano) Shaked sent a message to the people of Gadot saying “From here you look seven times greater” – a tribute to their ability to withstand 19 years of Syrian attacks. 

Shaked’s words are inscribed on a basalt stone at the lookout point, where the Syrian fortifications – and Gadot below – can still be seen. Mitzpe Gadot is also the site of a memorial to members of the Golan Brigade built by sculptor Ezra Orion. 

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