The MIA of Nukeib

Battles were fought and soldiers died over this narrow strip of land.

nukeib mia 88.298 (photo credit: )
nukeib mia 88.298
(photo credit: )
Two large basalt rocks face each other across a small flat area of gravel. The rocks sit atop a small tel (mound) known as Nukeib and overlook the northeastern shore of Lake Kinneret. Looming up behind the tel are the Golan Heights. The waters are tranquil, the afternoon sun creating a glistening and inviting golden pond at the feet of the seemingly oddly positioned rocks which, from a distance, look like two wild West gunfighters sizing each other up before drawing their pistols. An occasional car traveling the road that passes between the site and the slopes of the Golan breaks the tranquility. A barbed wire fence, with dangling metal yellow and red triangles gently swinging in the afternoon breeze, snakes across the undulating Golan slopes on the other side of the road. Between the hill and the water's edge, yet more barbed wire with their triangular messages of "Danger, Mines" reminds one that battles were fought and soldiers died over this narrow strip of land. Forty-two years ago, a fierce battle took place on this hilltop, as the marble plaque embedded in one basalt rock and the lettering etched on the other attest. I gradually moved from concentrating on the overwhelming natural beauty of the site to the realization that I was standing between a rock and a more than hard place in recent historical terms. Nukeib, to the north of Kibbutz Ein Gev, was a Syrian fortified position from where Israeli fishermen casting their nets on the Kinneret, as well as escorting patrol boats, were sporadically fired upon by the nearby well-entrenched Syrians. Another of those positions was Susita, situated behind and looming over Kibbutz Ein Gev; yet another was at Kursi, slightly farther north along the shoreline from Nukeib. In the mid-l950s, during Hanukka, Syrian troops fired upon an Israeli patrol vessel. Unlike in previous incidents that had been restricted to light arms, artillery was used in that attack. In nearby kibbutz Ein Gev, the children spent the holiday in underground shelters with the rest of the their community as Syrian shells landed in their vicinity. Israeli soldiers were mobilized in a counterattack on Nukeib, manned at the time by some 200 Syrians - of whom 43 died in the fierce fighting, as did six Israeli soldiers. The French government stated that it "deplored" the Israeli action but had been somewhat silent about the attacks on the Israeli fishermen and patrol boats plying the lake prior to the Hanukka retaliation. The firing upon fishermen, patrol boats and eastern shore Jewish communities continued, and in the early l960s a force from the Golani Brigade once more raided the Syrian outpost. Another eight Israeli soldiers fell on the battlefield of Nukeib. The body of Hanan David, who had gone missing during the battle, was exchanged some months later for a Syrian taken prisoner at Nukeib by the Israelis. One of the two basalt rocks gives a brief account of that action in memory of Hanan David and the other soldiers who perished at Nukeib. The second rock contains a large marble plaque with the insignia of the IDF. Here one reads that 19-year-old Ya'akov Dvir (Rivkind) from Petah Tikva has been missing in action since the March l962 raid on Nukeib.