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Irene / Travel history: Tel a Saki in South Golan / At Tel a Saki, South Golan Heights
At Tel a Saki, South Golan Heights
Coffee and conversations at the HaBokrim Inn
It was cold, 7deg C. Puppy and I spent 4 days in the Golan Heights staying with a family, as part of our tour plan. Everything that a travel diary can log was done here - visiting, tasting food, trekking and touring nearby places, enjoying Shabbat dinner, even getting the local Police's help to return home in a Police van when we got lost on returning from the Kotel visit in Jerusalem!
Our hosts, the Nigrekar family were hospitality perfecto! Yitzchak, the head of the family was the guide and his car, our convey to all places - north, south and west of Golan. The touring included, Gamla, Meshushim river and waterfall, Zavitan waterfall, Ramat Magshishim, Mizpe Hashalom, the Jordan River, Park HaYarden, a training camp), Kibbutz El Rom, Mt. Bental, Tel a Saki and many little on the way places. And Tel a Saki was the most memorable, bare with signs of the Yom Kippur war - destroyed tanks and stones that stand as memories of the war. This was in contrast to the beautiful and breathtaking natural places of the rest, one to mention the sight overlooking the Lake Kinneret from the Golan!
This log begins with the walk up to the HaBokrim Inn located in the Marom Golan Kibbutz. Once inside, I recognised this place - it is designed like a ranch house - and this was my second visit here. The rain and the cold winds were blowing in lowering the temperatures. Yitzchak ordered for hot coffee. That was really appreciated - Coffee and conversations go well. A casual chat has a way of ambling and ours reached the Yom Kippur war that Yitzchak was also part of. It began with a signpost showing arrow marks to the bordering countries, army barracks and bunks outside the restaurant. This was an exciting coffee-break with the real-life hero sitting at the same table! The war hero is honoured even today for saving many lives during this famed war.
Visit to Tel a Saki was slated for the following day. It is an observation hill overlooking the southern Golan Heights. Yitzchak drove to an overturned bunker that housed him during the Yom Kippur war and is still there, overturned with bullet holes. There is a dedication plaque with his name mentioned there. ‘Every year people come here, pray and even light candles in memory of the day and for us, too...'.
We returned home and our discussions continued. Sitting at the table, I was shown the manuscript, ‘My experiences in the Yom Kippur War' as told to Marsha Zukerman- a real life manuscript! A copy was given to me that I share here. For keeps-sake, I am including the ‘screenplay' here for tomorrow's read. It includes Tel a Saki, the land I stood on and still have memories! This is all in Yitzchak's narration, as recorded-
Yitzchak Nigrekar was born in India and migrated to Israel at the age of 11years of age. He was stationed in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
Before the war in July 1973: There was an Air war with Syria. An Israeli plane was on a border watch when the chase began with many Syrian planes on tail. The Israeli plane led the enemies' aircraft to the coast of Beirut and a battle broke in air. 13 Syrian and 1 Israeli aircrafts were shot down. A ground battle also began and our unit destroyed 14 enemy tanks. In August, we were move to the border. Our Military Intelligence was expecting the Syrians to come back and capture the eastern part of the Golan Heights. Sometime between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, we were briefed about the enemy strength growing on the other side of the border - 600 tanks, 2 brigades and all kinds of ammunition. All we had was 11 tanks on our side of the border in the southern zone of Ramat Ha Golan. When we asked him, ‘How can we defend ourselves against such a large force?' He replied, ‘You are good and will manage it'. He was right - during the Six day War, every Israeli tank had destroyed 20-30 Arab tanks!
Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur: The Israeli forces were on high alert with equipment. There were 13 of us in our barrack - 3 crews with four men in each and a Medic.
Yom Kippur 13:55: Explosions could be heard everywhere. Black clouds mushroomed on the East side of the mountain. While the Commander ran to the tank for instructions, I made a dash for the room and yelled, ‘Guys there is a battle'! All of us got into the tanks and moved to the border, broke through the fence and moved into the no-man's land. 3 Syrian tanks were destroyed. Nothing happened after this.
Evening of the first day: To the north there was an ancient Roman Road and we were informed that there were 30 Syrian tanks on it, moving along this road towards the border. We moved back and took positions and waited till they had all passed and destroyed them all. 11 more tanks followed to the same fate. Knowing that they could not enter Ramah through this way, they moved east where our infantry was. The combat continued with more enemy causalities. By this time, we had exhausted our anti-tank ammunition and lost our Commander in a fire exchange.
To solve the ammunition problem, we received an order from the Second Lieutenant to move to Tel a Saki and gather them from the disabled Israeli tank. On our way, the tank broke up on a rock. Being in-charge of communications and ammunition, with a weak radio, I had no choice but to go to the tank and get their radio. There, I saw our dead Commander. With mixed emotions, I called out to my mates to help get his body out and do the needful, while making a promise within myself. ‘If I survive, I will return and get married and my first son shall be named after him. His name was Yoav. And so it was. Baruch haShem!'
..... to be continued.. as part 2...worth it!
I have visited and traveled the Holy Land, no better description, for pilgrimage, a tour and even for a Bible feast and have yet not had enough. It is so true when people say, 'The Bible comes alive' - every stone talks here!