Your humble servant is just back from a two day trip to Israel’s eastern border. Today’s blog will be necessarily short–merely describing the route we took north –while tomorrow’s will be somewhat longer describing my observations on the ground.
Our three hour trip began with leaving Ashdod and making our way east over to Highway 6–Israel’s toll road with no toll booths that runs north and south–from Beersheva in the south to Dalyiat Carmel in the north. We drove onto 6 just outside of Gedera, a camera over the highway snapped a picture of our license plate (another picture is snapped whereever one exits–and the bill is mailed to you), and we started the northward drive.
It was a struggle to build Highway 6 both because of the discovery of ancient Jewish graves along the route that delayed construction for over two years and because of the insistence by the Israel green movement that the local flora be preserved (over 8,500 rare orchid, tulip and iris bulbs were carefully dug up, temporarily moved in their own soil, then replanted when the road was finished).
But the most interesting facet of Highway 6 is its actual route that follows the Green Line around Judea and Samaria. The Highway was literally built on the line (in many places), and the separation fence is often visible–particularly near Qalqilya. This is the same separation fence that has been dramatically successful in stopping Palestinian suicide bombers from killing Israeli children, women, and men (including many who were Israeli Arabs).
As I said, our route took us right along the line in many places but also through Israeli Arab cities such as Umm el-Fahm which are in Israel proper. Tomorrow, I hope to publish some pictures showing a small sample of the remarkable building boom going on in these towns and cities with high-rise buildings and sumptuous villas all along the roadway. Another striking feature of these areas is the vast number of mosques with their accompanying minarets which pervasively dot the landscape.
As we reach the northernmost part of Judea and Samaria, our route then turns due east towards the Jezreel Valley, Mt. Gilboa, Bet Shean, and the Jordanian border–which is where I will pick up the tour tomorrow (unless breaking news intercedes).