Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trip to north of Israel

We had an interesting lecture the other night on the prisons in Israel. They are managed quite differently from the ones in the U.S.  When someone is arrested, whether by the military or the police, they are given due process, but all the prisons are managed by one agency (IPS = Israel Prison Service a/k/a National Prison Authority). The police are to fight crime and the military are to defend the country. IPS manages the prisons so the others can do their jobs.  They take care of lock ups and escorts.  There are detention facilities for the prisoners held before their trials.  There are separate detention facilities for illegal immigrants. It might surprise some of you to know that illegal immigrants are trying to get into Israel despite its political problems with the countries outside it. It is still a better life than what they have in their own countries. (These are not Jewish people trying to get to Israel.)  There are separate security prisons and military prisons, also women’s prisons.  It was a good lecture.

Our most recent trip was to the north of Israel, green with mountains and valleys. We had a wonderful guide who explained everything as we went along, desalinization plants, water pumping stations, agriculture, electric production from coal and gas, etc. We stopped for some sheep that were on the road. The herders moved them with their vehicle along with a bit of help from a border collie.  Then we went to visit Emek Hashalom which has nature trails, olive and wine presses.  This is an interesting area for “integrated nature studies” – they explained that to mean that the facility and trails are set up for people with varying handicaps. The trails have stones on the side so that blind people don’t wander off them. The teachers explain the olive presses with picture boards for the autistic etc.  Everyone is included, no one is left behind.  This area is a controlled area (biosphere) and limited building is allowed. Mount Carmel is in the distance.

We planted trees in the Lavi Forest (Golani Brigade area). I planted a carob tree this time, last time (2006), I planted an almond tree. We had a quick falafel lunch along the way, then headed to the main attraction: Hula Agamon Lake  (Click on English on home page)

The Hula Valley is in the Syrian African rift valley, along the flight path of many migrating birds. In the 1930’s the land was cleared for agriculture and to rid the area of the malaria ridden swamps.  Drainage canals were dug. Unfortunately the end result was excessive drying out of some of the peat earth, causing some underground fires and pollution to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).  In the 1990’s, the JNF (Jewish National Fund) restored some of the area and it is now a beautiful nature park for many migratory birds. They are wintering here and then go back to Europe. They have worked with the farmers in the area so the birds do not destroy their crops.  We rode on a caravan pulled by a tractor and went into the midst of the common cranes. They have about 33,000 there and it was fascinating as well as very noisy! The cranes will head back to Europe in March. More photos

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