Jordan Valley & River Park

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"Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan…" (Jer 49:19) In sharp contrast to its legendary dimensions, the Jordan River is neither wide, nor deep, nor long, and according to the definition of many geographers it is a stream rather than a river. Nevertheless, for millions of people, it is a most important river, perhaps better known than the rivers in their own country. The Jordan and its banks are variegated, and one section is quite unlike the next. Between the Bnot Ya’akov Bridge and the Sea of Galilee, a distance of only 11 km, it becomes a gushing mountain stream, descending from an altitude of 70 m above sea level to 210 m below sea level, a major drop by any standard. This section is called the “Jordan Valley” (in the past it was referred to as the “mountainous Jordan”) and together with its slopes constitutes a nature reserve. For many years, this section of the river was inaccessible and unknown to the public, for lack of trails. When the borders for Palestine were established by the British Mandate, all this section of the river, together with a strip of land 300 m wide to the east of it, were included in the Mandate’s jurisdiction. During Israel’s War of Independence, the Syrian armed forces succeeded in capturing the territory to the east of the Jordan River, and this prevented access to it. In effect, the Syrians maintained strategic domination over the western section of the valley, part of which had been declared a demilitarized zone. Israeli inaccessibility to this area prevented the Government from beginning the National Water Carrier Project. The Project contained plans for building a dam beside the Bnot Ya’akov Bridge in order to divert water from the river.
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