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Mount Hermon ( ; Arabic: جبل الشيخ, Jabal el-Shaykh,"mountain of the chief" and "snowy mountain", Hebrew: הר חרמון, Har Hermon) is a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its highest point is 2,814 m (9,230 feet) above sea level. This summit is on the border between Syria and Lebanon, and is under Syrian control. Part of the southern slopes of Mount Hermon fall within the Golan Heights, an area under Israeli control since the 1967 war.
The mountain is actually a cluster of mountains with three distinct summits, each about the same height. The Anti-Lebanon range extends for approximately 150 km (93 miles) in a northeast-southwest direction, running parallel to the Lebanon range on the west.
The Hermon range covers an area of about 1000 square km, of which about 70 km² are under Israeli control.
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.
The springs, and the mountain itself, are much contested by the nations of the area for the use of the water. It is important that the government that controls the mountain, as well as the springs below, realize their responsibility to guard against deforestation and pollution.
Mount Hermon is called the "gray-haired mountain," or the "mountain of snow." It is also called "the eyes of the nation" in Israel because its altitude makes it Israel's primary strategic early warning system.citation
The high places of Mount Hermon were used by the Canaanites in Canaanite mythological rituals. They referred to the mountain as Mount Ba'al-Hermon (). It is also called Mount Sion or Mount Siyon ( ).
The Gospels tell of Jesus and his disciples journeying north from Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee to the city of Caesarea Philippi at the southern base of Mount Hermon (; ). There, Jesus revealed to them his purpose to build his Church and to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected ( ).
Mount Hermon is a possible site of the Transfiguration, where Jesus, according to the New Testament, took three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, up on a high mountain for prayer. Jesus is reported to have became radiantly white and conversed with Moses and Elijah, who had appeared beside him.
In the Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Grigori ("Watcher") class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swore upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men and return (Enoch 6).
The Israeli controlled sector was captured by Israel, along with much of the Golan Heights, in the Six-Day War of June 1967. It was captured by Syria on October 6, 1973, the first day of the Yom Kippur War, following the First Battle of Mount Hermon. Israel recaptured both the formerly Israeli controlled sector and Syrian sectors on October 21, during Operation Dessert. The Syrian sector was returned to Syria after the war.
Since 1981, the Israeli controlled region has been governed under Golan Heights Law. Mount Hermon has Israel's only ski resort, 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.
The Israeli controlled sector of the mountain is heavily patrolled by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police, and the Israeli Security Forces maintain 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 feet). Its adjacent peak, at 2,236 m, is the highest elevation in Israel.
The Syrian government recently unveiled plans to develop a multi-billion dollar ski resort on the slopes of the mountain.
Since 1996, a small Lebanese group, led by Michel Malek of Rashaya, have climbed to the top of Mount Hermon annually for the feast of Jesus' transfiguration on August 6. The group includes Christians of various denominations as well as Druze. In spite of its religious diversity, the group is Christ-centered, and most of its members participate in the Maronite mass celebrated on the mountaintop.
In 2005 the municipality of Rashaya constructed a road for jeeps that reaches an altitude of 2,400 m. There are mixed opinions about the environmental and cultural aspects of this road, as well as its utility and necessity. The municipality was also behind building a camping site and organizing trips to the top. For the past few years the climb to Mount Hermon has been receiving publicity due to newspaper articles and television news coverage. The 2006 climb was canceled on account of war.
Villages and settlements
On the Israeli controlled slopes of the mountain there are one village Majdal Shams (Druze) and two Israeli settlements, Neve Ativ and Nimrod. On the Lebanese western slopes of the mountain complex are the following villages: Rachaya Al Foukhar, Kfar Hamam, Chebaa, Kfar Chouba, Hebbariyeh, El Mari, Kfeir, Khalouat El Bayada and Majidiyeh.
- ↑ "The Yom Kippur War". Ynetnews. 2008-11-11. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3621090,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- ↑ "Syria". Ynetnews. 2007-12-23. http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3285832,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
- ↑ Middle East Online