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May 04, 2022
Naharayim, also known as ‘the island of peace’ literally translates from Hebrew to English: "Two rivers", is where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River. The current tourist attraction was once a Jordanian hydroelectric power plant started by Pinchas Rutenberg's Palestine Electric Company in 1929. The channels and dams built for the power plant, together with the two rivers formed a man-made island. The plant produced much of the energy consumed in Israel until the 1948 war of independence.
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Naharayim and Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial day)
Despite its name “peace island “ Naharayim is the site of a deadly terrorist attack. On March 13, 1997, a group of junior high schoolers from my hometown of Beit Shemesh, were on a class trip to Naharayim when a Jordanian soldier opened fire at the children killing seven girls aged 13 and 14 and badly wounding six others. A memorial was erected in memory of the murdered girls, made up of seven hills of dirt surrounded by grass, with the name of each girl written in flowers on each mound
As a result, the IDF began conducting patrols to ensure visitors' safety.
(That's me! On patrol at Naharayim, 2017)
Naharayim today and touring options:
The site operates as a popular tourist destination, where Israeli citizens and visitors of Israel (in coordination with the IDF), are able to cross the border of Jordan without a visa. There are many activities and touring options, which include fun workshops, jeep tours, a bus guided tour, and presentations of the local rich history, which includes:
Presentations of the Naharayim Experience: An amazing and moving presentation about Pinchas Rotenberg, the vision and founder of one of the first hydroelectric plants in Naharayim, close to 100 years ago.
Presentation of Old Gesher: A heart-stirring film about the members of the local village who successfully defended their home, after which visitors can tour the original fighter’s bunkers.
Bauhaus train station: The old railroad station which was once a stop on the Haifa to Damascus railway route.
Conclusion: Naharayim is a beautiful piece of land on the Israeli-Jordanian border where the Yarmouk River falls into the Jordan River from a man-made waterfall surrounded by hills and fields. It has deep historical roots in modern-day Israel and provides visitors with a rich and entertaining experience. As mentioned above, the IDF conducts patrols in the area to ensure visitors' safety. I personally had the opportunity to participate in these patrols during my IDF service in 2017.
Have you been to Naharayim? Has this inspired you to visit? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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