THE Israeli high-court ruling forcing the rerouting of the controversial security fence in the outer Jerusalem region has put an exclusive hilltop neighborhood in the eye of a public storm as it will place the fence literally alongside their well-tended front and back gardens.
The name of the community is Har Adar but known during British Mandatory times as Har Radar, a popular site with “out-and-about” Israelis as the hill offers breathtaking vistas for miles around, so much so that a special observatory platform was built to accommodate them.
Looming up ominously on the horizon, the Har Radar observatory looks like something out of Star Wars from a distance even more so from close up.
What appears to be a beached vehicle from another galaxy sits atop a high place in the Judean Hills above kibbutz Kiryat Anavim.
Although not a set for a remake of Star Wars the area has seen more than its fair share of wars with bitter battles having been fought over a 100 year period between Turks, British, Arab and Jewish soldiers.
The highest vantage point to the north of the main pass cutting through the hills and climbing up towards Jerusalem, Har Adar offers a commanding view from the Judean Hills all the way down to the central costal plain and the coastline itself. From another side, one can oversee the whole area up to the city of Jerusalem sitting on a mountain range in the distance, whilst in the valley below, Palestinian villages, large and small, are visible deep into the West Bank, the residents of which were under the control of Jordan from 1948 until 1967.
During the First World War, Turkish soldiers on Har Adar lost their stronghold to Britain’s General Allenby on his way to Jerusalem.
During the Mandate period and Second World War, the British – on the lookout for enemy German and Italian planes – erected a radar installation on the hill, which thus became known as Radar Hill or in Hebrew, Har Radar.
On April 24, 1948, British troops on Radar Hill attacked soldiers from the Palmach’s Harel Brigade who were on their way to assist a group of their comrades in the region. Sixteen wounded Jewish soldiers were handed over by the British troops to Arabs who murdered them and mutilated their bodies.
In May 1948, the British pulled out but not before handing over the site to the Jordanian Legionnaires. Three days later, Palmach soldiers attacked the well-fortified area and ousted the Jordanians who in turn did the same to the Jewish soldiers a week later. Another two attacks by the Palmach failed to dislodge the Jordanians and the fortification remained under their control until 1967 when they were beaten back by Israeli tanks from the Harel Brigade of the IDF.
Nowadays Har Radar is known as Har Adar, the hill of British radar becoming the hill of the Hebrew month of the almost same name.
Situated on the Green Line, Har Adar has become a flourishing Jewish community living in very stylish red tiled or flat roofed villas but somewhat dwarfed by the hilltop observation platform. An outdoor exhibition of tanks used in the 1967 battle stands – cannons pointing skywards – on underground bunkers built by the British and Jordanians in the backyard of local residents who have to put up with thousands of Israeli adults and children who come to learn about the desperate struggles at different points in history for the right to call the place their own.
No doubt the present fence/barrier/wall controversy will bring many more curious sightseers to the out-of-this-world observation platform to look out over a seemingly ever-disputed area.