On the eve of the Passover holiday, which brings thousands of hikers to nature resorts across Israel, the Israel Defense Forces announced it will be opening some off-limits sites to ramblers. But other permanently closed reserves will remain off-limits, and the army will even be closing popular trails near the Palmahim military base.
The defense establishment is currently in possession of 50 percent of Israel's territory. Much of that land is inside nature reserves, and is used mostly for training purposes. An IDF spokesperson said that out of consideration for hikers, the army has loosened restrictions on entering some military zones. But at the same time the army also warned that hikers need to coordinate each entry with the military authorities.
Among the sites the army is opening up are Mount Karkom in the southern Negev - creating a rare opportunity to see the area east of the Ramon crater - and trails in the Arava such as the Masor stream. While Mount Karkom offers a spectacular view of the Negev and some rock paintings, the Masor stream has water pools that attract wildlife from far away, best observed at around dawn and sunset.
Special entry will also be allowed into Nahal Tze'elim, near the huge military base by that name, and to the Amsha stream with its view of the northern Judean Desert. Sites in the Hermon mountain in the north which are usually off-limits will also be opened to visitors, pending individual coordination.
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