Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Atlit and Rosh Hanikra

Since we're now in February it's high time that I showed you some photos from our little jaunt up north in December! We had a glorious few days. It was chilly but dry and we visited some beautiful places.
Our first stop on Day 1 was at the Atlit Illegal Immigrant Detention Camp (above). The camp was established by the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine at the end of the 1930's to prevent Jewish refugees, many from Nazi-controlled Europe, from entering Palestine. During this period Palestine was controlled by the British and there were very strict restrictions in place regarding the number of immigrants allowed into the country. Tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants were interned at the camp, which was surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers.
Today the Illegal Immigrant Detention Camp, situated just south of the port city of Haifa, has been transformed into a museum. Barbed wire fencing still surrounds the site and the notorious disinfection facility, restored barracks and a recently arrived ship, similar to the one used to transport immigrants to Palestine, give a clear indication as to what went on there.
The day we arrived the electricity was down so there was no lighting nor films to be watched. Instead the young Sherut Leumi woman who was volunteering at the museum as part of her national service, took us around and she certainly knew her stuff! Our stop at Atlit was fascinating and well worth the good couple of hours we spent there.
Next on the itinerary was Rosh Hanikra. I had last visited on a youth tour when I was 16, which is, ahem, quite some years ago. I had good memories of the place but it turned out to be even more spectacular than I had remembered! The gleaming white chalk cliffs and the beautiful stretch of beach below were a magnificent sight to behold.
The real excitement began when we boarded the cable-car at the entrance to the site, for a two minute ride down the cliff face. At the bottom was the main attraction - the Rosh Hanikra grottoes, or sea caves, formed as the result of geological processes and the effect of the waves from the Mediterranean sea lapping on the soft chalk. Visiting during the stormy winter season meant that the waves were extra noisy, crashing into the grottoes and creating explosive sounds. The boys were delighted! This was spectacular nature in all her splendour.
Rosh Hanikra is also the meeting point of the Israel and Lebanese border. We could see the tunnel dug in 1943 to extend the Cairo-Haifa rail line to Beirut and which served the British military until 1948. A short film, shown in the old tunnel itself, told us the story of the site. The railway bridge was destroyed by Jewish underground fighters in March 1948, under the nose of the British soldiers, in order to prevent Lebanese arms being smuggled into the newly founded State of Israel. Since then the railway has been closed. The coastal railway in Israel currently ends near Nahariya, several kilometres to the south.
At the border point there is a sign, seen above, with the distance between the two capitols - Jerusalem and Beirut. The border is currently closed and limited to special cases and United Nations personnel.
Since Rosh Hanikra is located on the seashore, we couldn't resist a quick visit to the rock pools. It  was the perfect way to end a great day. The kids investigated the pools and got wet - even though they promised me that they wouldn't! The rest of us watched the sun slowly set, in perhaps one of the most beautiful locations in Israel.
It was going to be a good trip.

2 comments:

Meeling said...

Gorgeous shots Lisa! And yes, kids and water - they can never resist! :-)

Miss Val's Creations said...

Wow! The shots are stunning! The rock formations are absolutely gorgeous! The sun is so pretty on the rocks. I could spend ours walking around there and picnicing.

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