☰   Menu

Deniz Bensason



Israel National Trail Blog:

Segment 01: From Dan to Tel Hai.

Deniz Bensason - Israel National Trail

Deniz Bensason
Israel National Trail


Start point: Kibbutz Dan (Beit Ussishkin)


Finish Point: Tel Hai


Section Length: 12 Km




There are plenty of other “From A to B” blogs, in a multitude of languages about the Israel National Trail; I do not intend to write another one. I will try and give you, my readers, a personal perspective and thoughts about the route.

Beit Ussishkin, Kibbutz Dan:

Israel National Trail Map: Section 01 - From Dan to Tel-Hai

Israel National Trail Map:
Section 01 - From Dan to Tel-Hai

It seems right that the Israel National Trail should start at this small, modest museum named after Abraham Menachem Mendel Ussishkin (August 14, 1863 - October 2, 1941). There is no other pre-state Zionist leader who can be said to be more responsible for the physical contour of the post-independence State of Israel.

In 1923 Ussishkin was elected President of the Jewish National Fund which he headed until his death in 1941. He devoted himself completely to the idea of acquiring land as the property of the nation. Large tracts of land in the Jezreel Valley (1921), Hefer Plain (1927), Haifa Bay area (1928), Beth-Shean (1930), and other parts of the country were purchased. He increased the landed property of the JNF from 22,000 to 561,000 dunam. In 1939, when the JNF purchased land in Upper Galilee, north of the Hula Valley, it was decided to found a series of settlements there called Mezudot Ussishkin ("Ussishkin Forts") – moshavei ovedim and kevuẓot. Kibbutz Dan was the northernmost “Fort” in the Hula Valley.

The museum was founded in the 1950’s as a result of the concern for losing the natural beauty surrounding the swamp area of the Hula swamp after its drainage.

Israel National Trail - Section 01: Tel Dan

Israel National Trail
Section 01: Tel Dan

The museum displays a collection of fauna and flora of the historic Hula Valley. A special exhibit focuses on the biblical times lifestyle, based on evidence found in the Tel Dan excavations.

Tel Dan:

The Arabic name for Tel Dan was Tel el-Qadi تل القاضي ("Mound of the Judge"). As so often in this part of the world, names and places create their own myths.

Why should the mound by the Dan rivulet be the mound of a judge (Qadi = قاضي)?

There is a Hebrew song תל אל קאדי (Tel el-Qadi), written and performed originally in 1967, that tries to offer one interesting explanation. The following rendering is by Hedva Amrani.

Tel el Qadi

תל אל קאדי

Originally performed by Shlomit Livnat
Words: Ruth Hefetz
Music: Amitai Ne’eman
Translation: S. Mandelbaum

במקור מבוצע על ידי: תשולמית לבנת
מילים: רות חפץ
לחן: אמיתי נאמן
תרגום לאנגלית: שלום מנדלבאום

In ancient days, quite long ago,
Three brooks adjacent used to flow
Below Mount Hermon’s snowed in peaks
The Hasbani, Banias and Dan creeks.
The three blue and pristine streams,
Argued, squabbled to extremes,
Below Mount Hermon’s snowed in peaks
The Hasbani, Banias and Dan creeks.

בימים משכבר, בימים קדומים,
שלושה נחלים היו מפכים
לרגלי החרמון הלבן,
חצבאני ובניאס ודן.
פרצה מריבה באחד הימים
בין שלושה נחלים כחולים וזכים,
לרגלי החרמון הלבן
חצבאני ובניאס ודן.

Then the Hasbani’s voice would boom:
"I am the greatest – I assume!”
And continued with his call:
"I am the greatest of us all!”
Banias answered in a fury:
“I’m bigger - better - by any jury!”
Dan then scowled and irritably muttered:
“I am the best – and quite uncluttered!”

אז נשא החצבאני קולו וירעם:
"הן אני הגדול החשוב מכולם!"
וחזר עוד שנית וירעם:
"אני הגדול מכולם!"
ענה אז הבניאס באף וחימה:
"הן אני הגדול וחשוב פי כמה!"
אז זעף גם הדן והמהם:
"אני החשוב משניהם!"

The argument got loud and bitter,
Some droplets even lost their glitter.
To settle their prolonged discord,
They bade a verdict from the Lord.
The Lord descended in a cloud
Sat by the brooks on a small mound
His verdict He then did deliver:
“You three converge into one great river!”

היתה המריבה כה קשה ומרה
ודין ודברים הדהדו ברמה,
מי מהם הגדול מכולם,
פנו אל ריבון העולם.
ירד אז לארץ ריבון עולמים
וישב על התל בין שלושה נחלים
ופסק את דינו ואמר:
"התלכדו השלושה לנהר!"

The brooks obeyed their masters voice,
Converged their waters as if by choice,
Became the Jordan – three in one
The Hasbani, Banias and the Dan.
Since then Tel al Qadi the mound is called
Where His throne was once installed
Where He sat, judged and made the plan
To unite Hasbani, Banias and the Dan.

לעצת אדונם שמעו הנחלים,
התלכדו מימיהם הכחולים הזכים,
והיו לירדן האיתן,
חצבאני ובניאס ודן.
מאז תל אל קאדי נקרא המקום
ששימש כס משפט לבורא ממרום
כאשר הוא ישב שם ודן
בין בניאס חצבאני ודן.

Israel National Trail - Section 01: The Dan Creek

Israel National Trail
The Dan Creek

Back to the Trail….

Bypassing Tel Dan we crossed the Dan Creek, well actually a number of rivulets that make up the Dan. A few kilometers later we waded through the Snir Stream. Called Nachal Snir today in Israel is the Hasbani of the above song – it is still called Hasbani on the Lebanese side of the border (and by old-timers in the Upper Galilee).

The Banias – also called Nachal Hermon by its official Hebrew name – is a little further to the east and not part of the trail.

Walking along the shaded riverside and traversing the brooks was fun! Every turn offered new views and opportunities to take pictures.

  • Israel National Trail - Section 01: The Dan Creek with INT sign on left bank
  • Israel National Trail - Section 01: Dan Rivulet
  • Israel National Trail - Section 01: Crossing the Hasbani
  • Israel National Trail - Section 01: The Hasbani near the Snir-Bridge
Israel National Trail - Section 01: One of many Reservoirs

Israel National Trail
One of many Reservoirs


A bit of a Slog (Schlepp)

We left the Hasbani river system where it intersected with route 99, crossed the Snir Bridge and headed north towards Ma’ayan Baruch.

We now were walking along the asphalt road surrounded by fields and avocado groves.

We turned left just before the gate of the kibbutz, heading toward Kfar Yuval

Israel National Trail - Section 01: The road to Kfar Yuval

Israel National Trail
The road to Kfar Yuval

Kfar Yuval

(Yuval = brook, creek)

The name Yuval was initially taken from a passage in the scriptures (Jeremiah 17 :8), and it is an apt name for an agricultural village specializing mainly in avocado, plum and apple orchards.

The present day farmers are originally immigrants from Cochin (Kochi), on the south west coast of India.




For he (they) shall be like a tree planted by the waters,

Ve’haiah k’Etz shatul al Maiim,

וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל-מַיִם,

and by the brook it spreads its roots,

Ve’al Yuval ishlach Shorshav,

וְוְעַל-יוּבַל יְשַׁלַּח שָׁרָשָׁיו,

and shall not see (worry) when heat comes,

Ve’lo’ ir’eh ki yavoh chom,

וְלֹא ירא (יִרְאֶה) כִּי-יָבֹא חֹם,

and its foliage shall be luxuriant;

Ve’haiah ‘Alehu ra’anan;

וְהָיָה עָלֵהוּ רַעֲנָן;

and shall not be anxious in a year of drought

Ubishnat batzoret lo id’ag,

וּבִשְׁנַת בַּצֹּרֶת לֹא יִדְאָג,

neither shall stop him from yielding fruit

Ve’lo jamish me’asot Peri.

וְוְלֹא יָמִישׁ מֵעֲשׂוֹת פֶּרִי.

Jeremiah 17 :8


יִרְמְיָהוּ י"ז ח'

Israel National Trail - Section 01: Ladders on the rocks

Israel National Trail
Ladders on the rocks

On the path to Tel Hai.

Leaving Kfar Yuval behind us, we continued westward, crossing Nachal Ayun, thanfully by bridge until we hit route 90 – the main North-South highway that connects Metula, via Qiryat Shmonah all the way to Eilat.

Crossing the road – by under-path - is an interesting exercise in rock climbing, especially if the rocks are still wet and slippery after an unexpected downpour!

Fortunately the organizers of the Israel National Trail have planned for such eventuality and fastened a series of convenient ladders and rails to make negotiation of the rock climb safer.

Israel National Trail - Section 01: Slippery stones

Israel National Trail
Slippery stones

There are of course those hardy (read: “foolhardy”) souls who prefer bravado and risk of injury to a safe descent.

Climbing up another bank on the other side of route 90, a short path leads straight to the northern entrance of the Tel Hai cemetery.

Kfar Giladi cemetery

The cemetery of Kfar Giladi/Tel Hai is most probably the most beautiful and interesting cemetery in the country.

Aside from the memorial to the Hashomer (Hashomer=Watchman/Guard) organization (the forerunner of the Haganah that is in turn the forbearer of the I.D.F.), the cemetery also is the last resting place of most of the members of Hashomer.

Israel National Trail - Section 01: Kfar-Giladi cemetery

Israel National Trail
Kfar-Giladi cemetery

Names that became legends during their lifetimes; like Israel & Manya Shochat, Mendel & Tova Portugali, Nachum Horowitz, Mordechai Yigal, Eliezer and Zvi Krol are all buried there.

With the exception of Alexander Zaid who is buried in Agudat Hashomrim cemetery in the Jezreel and Yitzhak Ben Zvi – later to become the second President of the State of Israel all founders of the original Hashomer are buried in this plot.

An interesting byline: Yitzhak Ben Zvi also refused to be laid to rest in the section for Israel's greats, reserved for Presidents and Prime Ministers, on Mount Herzl. He insisted instead on a regular plot in the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.

The Roaring Lion of Tel Hai

Israel National Trail - Section 01: The roaring lion of Tel-Hai

Israel National Trail
The roaring lion of Tel-Hai

The USA has Nathan Hale and Crazy Horse, Texas has Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, England has Horatio Nelson, Scotland - William Wallace (Braveheart), Ireland - Michael Collins, France - Joan of Arc, Austria - Andreas Hofer and Latin America has Che Guevara. All were warriors and National heroes, fighting for the freedom of their peoples and paid for their principles with their lives. Israel amongst others has Joseph Trumpeldor one the “Tel Hai Eight”.

The Tel Hai Monument is a fitting culmination for the first section on the INT. It brings together the diverse threads of history – the account of reclamation of the land by Ussishkin, the chronicles of the ancient biblical city of Dan, the narrative of the immigration of Jews from all parts of the world back to their homeland, agriculture and settlement, as well as the bloody struggle for independence and freedom.

I have always considered it a little unfair that of all the fallen in Tel Hai the only name that is remembered is the name of Joseph Trumpeldor. So here are the names of the others (in the same order as on the monument).

Devorah Drachler
Ya’akov Toker
Joseph Trumpeldor
Benjamin Munter
Sarah Chizik
Shneur Shaposhnik
Aaron Sher
Zeev Scharf

דבורה דראכלר
יעקב טוקר
יוסף טרומפלדור
בנימין מונטר
שרה צ'יזיק
שניאור שפושניק
אהרן שר
זאב שרף

For details of their lives (in Hebrew) please see: Here

Israel National Trail - Section 01: The Second Tel Hai Monument

Israel National Trail
The Second Tel Hai Monument

The Second Tel Hai Tragedy

In 2006, eighty-six years later, during the Second Lebanon War, a number of Israeli Defense Force reservists, all from a paratroopers regiment, were standing near the entrance to the Tel Hai Memorial. A Katyusha rocket shot from Southern Lebanon landed right in their midst.

12 paratroopers lost their lives there.

Today, a simple monument consisting of three stone pillars stands at the spot where the Katushya landed.

This concudes my first day on the Israel National Trail.


Link to a comprehensive map of this section: Here


Hello from Ireland!

Thank you for this informative blog.

I plan to hike the Israel National Trail next summer.

Thank you for the trail information and the historical and cultural additions that are not available on the trail guide.


↑  Go Up
to Menu