Hundreds of thousands take to Israel's parks, forests for Succot holiday

Thousands seen in parks grilling food on portable barbecues.

TREES IN Jerusalem’s Har Adar forest 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Itzhak Rabihiya)
TREES IN Jerusalem’s Har Adar forest 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Itzhak Rabihiya)
As children dipped fishing poles into a duck-filled lake and small white birds dotted the overhanging greenery, smoke billowed from every corner of Ramat Gan’s National Park on Thursday.
Portable barbecues for grilling meats of every shape and size are ever popular among Israelis as they trek to the country’s national parks on holidays such as Succot, Passover and Independence Day, emitting so many clouds of white that the parks are masked by a screen of haze.
Nonetheless, at the vast Ramat Gan National Park on Thursday, thousands of children and their families enjoyed biking, running and kicking soccer balls around, escaping to one of the few green oases in the Gush Dan region.
Unusual birds were likewise undeterred by the barbecue smoke, swooping in one-by-one from the next door Ramat Gan Safari.
Some 400,000 people visited national parks, nature reserves and forests across the country over Wednesday and Thursday.
Throughout Thursday, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported 150,000 travelers visiting their national parks and nature reserves. Areas that received the most traffic included Caesarea, Apollonia, Ein Hemed, Masada and the Nabatean Market in Mamshit.
Sites with water attractions, such as the Banias, Majrasa, Tel Dan and Ein Gedi, were also crowded, the INPA reported.
“Our goal is to get the Israeli family to nature and heritage sites, enjoy a variety of prepared activities and thereby bring them closer to these values,” said Uzi Barzilai, manager of the INPA’s public and community division.
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund likewise reported huge numbers of visitors to the organization’s parks, forests and bike trails – reaching about 250,000 travelers.
The most visited KKL-JNF sites on Thursday were the Judean Mountains, Ben-Shemen Forest and the Hula Lake, the organization said.
Although arriving in large numbers, members of the public largely kept the sites clean, a trend that KKL-JNF predicted would continue throughout.