From November 1947 – May 1948 local Arab forces took control of the only road at that time (road no. 1) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, not allowing food, weapons, water and medical supplies to get through. This essentially meant that the city of Jerusalem was under siege. This significantly weakened the Jewish population of Jerusalem, and there were concerns that the Arab population would take over the city.
The solution was the building of the Burma Road. Originally a shepherd’s path, the Burma Road is 11Km long and bypassed the Arab held part of road no. 1, connecting straight to Jerusalem and allowing much needed supplies to be brought to the Jewish population in Jerusalem. To begin with, soldiers walked along this path to get to Jerusalem, and over time, a proper road was constructed.To start the tour, Efi, our guide, took us on a fun jeep safari along unpaved roads and up and down hills to show us strategic points along the way. This took us to a model of the Burma Road in Mitzpe Harel, helping us to get a visual idea of where the road is located. Following that we traveled down the Burma Road and saw the Mahal memorial for all the non-Jewish volunteers who came from all over the world in 1948 to fight for the state of Israel.
Throughout the entire drive, Efi was telling us the story of this period of time, interjecting our history lesson to leap out the car and teach us about the local flora and fauna of the area! We then drove up a hill to get a bird’s eye view of road no. 1, and we were able to see the area of Shar Ha’Guy, which is where the supply convoys traveling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be ambushed by hostile villagers. It was from here that you could really get a sense of the danger that the Israeli soldiers faced, and of the strategic power that the Arabic people had in this area. At this point Efi burst into song, singing us a song that laments for the soldiers who died along the Burma Road. It was quite a moving moment. He then took us for a beautiful picnic lunch, with products from a local goat’s cheese farm.
From pesto, sundried tomato paste and olives to lovely fluffy white baguettes and a delicious array of goat’s cheese, we ate our fill whilst looking out over beautiful vistas of the hills of Jerusalem.
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