Mount Hermon

Monday, 26 July 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  2 minutes

Lake Ram and Mount Hermon © Idobi/cc-by-sa-3.0

Lake Ram and Mount Hermon © Idobi/cc-by-sa-3.0

Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster constituting the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m (9,232 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in Syria and is therefore in two Middle East conflict zones. On the top, in the United Nations buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli-occupied territories, is the highest permanently manned UN position in the world, known as “Hermon Hotel”, located at 2814 metres altitude. The southern slopes of Mount Hermon extend to the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights, where the Mount Hermon ski resort is located with a top elevation of 2,040 metres (6,690 ft). A peak in this area rising to 2,236 m (7,336 ft) is the highest elevation in Israeli-controlled territory.

The Anti-Lebanon range, of which the Hermon range constitutes the southernmost part, extends for approximately 150 km (93 mi) in a northeast-southwest direction, running parallel to the Lebanon range on the west. The relatively narrow Hermon range, with the Lebanon-Syria boundary along its spine, extends for 70 km, from 25 km northeast of Mt. Hermon to 45 km southwest of it. The Hermon range covers an area of about 700 km² (270 sq mi) of which about 70 km<² (27& sq mi) are under Israeli control. Mount Hermon is a cluster of mountains with three distinct summits, each about the same height. Most of the portion of Mount Hermon within the Israeli-controlled area constitutes the Hermon nature reserve.

The mountain forms one of the greatest geographic resources of the area. Because of its height it captures a great deal of precipitation in a very dry area of the world. The Jurassic limestone is broken by faults and solution channels to form a karst topography. Mount Hermon has seasonal winter and spring snow falls, which cover all three of its peaks for most of the year. Melt water from the snow-covered mountain’s western and southern bases seeps into the rock channels and pores, feeding springs at the base of the mountain, which form streams and rivers. These merge to become the Jordan River. Additionally, the runoff facilitates fertile plant life below the snow line, where vineyards and pine, oak, and poplar trees are abundant.

Mount Hermon Ski Resort © lehava beitshean/cc-by-2.5 Mount Hermon Ski Resort © Noa/cc-by-sa-2.5 © Hannelb Lake Ram and Mount Hermon © Idobi/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Almog Mount Hermon Ski Resort in summer © AdamMinsker/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Mount Hermon Ski Resort in summer © AdamMinsker/cc-by-sa-4.0
During the Six-Day War in June 1967, a part of Mount Hermon in Syria was captured by Israel. This part was regained by Syria on October 6, 1973, the first day of the Yom Kippur War, following the First Battle of Mount Hermon. After being repelled in the Second Battle of Mount Hermon, the IDF recaptured both the formerly Israeli-occupied sector and the pre-Yom Kippur War Syrian-controlled sector on October 21, 1973, during Operation Dessert, also known as the Third battle of Mount Hermon. The pre-Yom Kippur War Syrian-controlled sector was returned to Syria after the war. The Israeli-occupied sector of the mountain became patrolled by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police, and the Israeli Security Forces have maintained a strategic observation post for monitoring Syrian and Lebanese military activity near Mitzpe Shlagim (“Snow Lookout”), which is at an elevation of about 2,224 m (7,300 ft). Its neighboring peak, at 2,236 m (7,336 ft), is the highest elevation in Israeli-occupied territory. The springs, and the mountain itself, are much contested by the nations of the area for the use of the water. Mount Hermon is also called the “snowy mountain,” the “gray-haired mountain”, and the “mountain of snow”. It is also called “the eyes of the nation” in Israel because its elevation makes it Israel’s primary strategic early warning system. Israel has created the same problems here as in Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank. While the military occupation of Syrian territory by Israel as a result of the military conflict is covered by international law, the settlements violates the Geneva Conventions and are therefore highly illegal. Here, too, Israel put itself on the same level as Turkey (northern Cyprus) and Russia (annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea). This has consequences for the reputation and credibility of the country, especially since the international community naturally does not recognize any of the Israeli annexations. In addition to the foreign policy challenges that result from this, the illegal settlements are of course also a permanent attack on the country’s constitution, originally planned as a democracy, which has also been clearly eroded by domestic politics in core Israel.

Since the onset of Syrian Civil War, the Syrian-controlled Hermon has continued to be under pro-Assad forces, though clashes have sporadically erupted on the mountain range and spilled into Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied portion. Most notably the Islamist rebel factions of Jaish al-Haramoun took part in the fighting on the Southern slopes of the mountain.

Since 1981, when the Golan Heights Law was passed, the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights has been governed under Israeli law. Mount Hermon hosts the only ski resort in territory held by Israel, including a wide range of ski trails at novice, intermediate, and expert levels. It also offers additional winter family activities such as sledding and Nordic skiing. Those who operate the Hermon Ski area live in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Ativ and the Druze town of Majdal Shams. The ski resort has a ski school, ski patrol, and several restaurants located at either the bottom or peak of the area. In 2005, the Syrian government had plans to develop a 15-billion-dollar ski resort on the slopes of the mountain.

Read more on TouristIsrael.com – Mount Hermon Ski Resort, Wikipedia First Battle of Mount Hermon, Wikipedia Second Battle of Mount Hermon, Wikipedia Third Battle of Mount Hermon, Wikivoyage Golan Heights (Syria), Wikivoyage Golan Heights and Wikipedia Mount Hermon (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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