Beautiful Quneitra

So there's this town in the Golan Heights called Quneitra. You can only visit it by obtaining a special permit from the Ministry of the Interior (the obtaining of which is a blog post all in itself, but that will have to wait for another time). To get there, you take a regular old service to Khan Arnabah, and then wait inside a small guard shack to have your permit inspected. The guards must work round-the-clock shifts, because the shack is fitted out with sleeping bunks and a small stove.

If your permit is in order, you're allowed to proceed to the town itself, which is currently under UN administration (if you want to know more about Quneitra's history, I advise you to look elsewhere, lest I make a political statement on this blog). There, you are assigned an "interpreter," who doesn't speak a word of English. His main job is to walk you around the town and make sure you don't go anywhere you shouldn't. Ours was very friendly and helpful.

Quneitra is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever visited, which makes what happened to it even more shameful.

Here you can see bulldozed homes in front of the area's prominent hilltop, which is covered with Israeli satellites and such (our friend's GSM cell phone displayed the message "Welcome to Israel" as soon as we entered the area).

This is the hollowed-out Orthodox church. The interior has some Hebrew newspapers plastered on the walls (and some Arabic graffiti, I should add).

A panorama view of the town from the roof of the town hospital, which is quite a wreck these days.

I can't say that I enjoyed my visit to Quneitra - I don't think walking through the bulldozed ruins of a once-normal town can be enjoyed. I did, however, think it worthwhile. The setting of the town is absolutely lovely, and I can really sympathize with the feelings of those Syrians whose families come from the Golan and who cannot live there now.
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