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Israel Photography by Yoav Cohen

The soldiers who never left the Mandate: The British Military Cemetery in Ramla

As you travel throughout Israel, it's easy to overlook landmarks that tell the stories of the empires that have occupied this land.

Among these hidden landmarks is The British Military Cemetery in the outskirts of Lod—the largest of its kind built by the British during their occupation. Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission , this cemetery preserves the memories of thousands of soldiers who fought during World War I and World War II from throughout the Middle East. Establishment The cemetery was founded during the First World War, on November 1, 1917, when the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade occupied Ramla. Initially, the cemetery was established by the medical units posed in the area. As time went on, additional graves were brought in from battlefields and other burial sites. Where Harry Potter is buried Among the countless names engraved upon the tombstones, a few stands out. One is Harry Potter - killed in battle in Hebron in 1939 and made famous by the Ramla tourism office . The cemetery also houses the graves of Mervyn Paice and Clifford Martin, who were hanged by the Irgun in 1947 in retaliation for the execution of three Irgun members by British authorities. In total, within its grounds lie 3,300 Commonwealth burials from the First World War, with 964 of them unidentified. The cemetery also holds 1,168 burials from the Second World War. In addition to these, there are 892 war graves of individuals from other nationalities, representing both world wars. The cemetery also encompasses 525 non-war burials, many of which are associated with the RAF and garrison stations that were present in Ramla during the interwar years and until the end of the British Mandate in Palestine in 1948. The lasting presence of the Mandate While the British Mandate period concluded in 1948, the remnants of the British Empire's presence are still scattered throughout Israel, the cemetery in Ramla being among the most solemn, impressive and vivid recollection of the presence of the Empire, as well as the price paid in just one arena of two world wars. Get there with Waze

From Joy to Decay: The Abandoned Water Park on the North Shore of the Dead Sea

This is the abandoned water park "Atrakzia" - located on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. It was once a symbol of positivity and coexistence, but now stands as a dilapidated ruin, the victim of the violence of the Second Intifada .
Optimistic Beginning First opened in 1989 following the First Intifada , the park's owners foresaw the potential of the location for both Jewish and Arab visitors. Three kibbutz communities - Kalia , Almog and Beit Ha'arava - combined efforts to plan and build the park of 300 dunhams at a cost of close to 20 million shekels. It quickly became a popular destination, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year and providing a sense of normalcy in a region plagued by conflict. The park's success brought prosperity to the surrounding area for over a decade, with locals and international tourists supporting the park and local businesses like restaurants and hotels. Sadly, this was not to last. Devastating Ending The outbreak of the Second Intifada in October 2000 brought violence and turmoil to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Atrakzia was not immune to its effects. The park, located in the Jordan Valley and Jericho area, saw a sharp decline in visitors as the region became a center of conflict. Despite the challenges, the owners held out hope for a resolution and kept the park open for two more years. However, mounting debt ultimately forced them to close the park's gates permanently in 2002. Memories frozen in time and an uncertain future A visit to Atrakzia today is an eerie experience. It is a reminder of the fleeting nature of success and the impact of larger political events on people living on the pendulum of time in the Middle East. The decaying slides and empty pools are a stark contrast to the bustling atmosphere that once filled this island of sanity in an area that has bled so much. Echoes of visitors long ago ring loud on Kalia Beach, alongside glamping tents and Bedouin camels that are still here. What does the future hold for this sad relic of recreation? The hope of the locals in the area is to develop the beach once again with a new park, or a similar attraction. But between bureaucracy and an ever changing reality in the Jordan Valley, it is anyone's guess to which side the pendulum will swing. Navigate there with Waze

Three Thousand Years of History Hidden in Tel Aviv

Israel is well known for the layers of civilization that lie hidden in many places, but some locations might surprise you. Even under the boardwalk of one of the world's most beautiful and modern cities, the remains of empires both ancient and modern can be found among the scooters, yoga mats and coffee shops of Tel Aviv. At the northern tip of the city's promenade are its secret beaches and the remains of old Sde Dov Airport. What many are not aware of are the historic landmarks in the area, especially in one specific spot. So then, how much history can you fit into a single Tel Aviv aerial shot? As it turns out, about 2800 years worth: The remains of Tel Qudadi (top right) date back to the 8th century BCE, possibly even earlier. The fortress was likely part of a string of Assyrian strongolds, built along the coast to monitor maritime activity, guard strategic points, and serve as a trade station for the empire. Abandoned with the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the fortress lay hidden under mounds of sand, until it was discovered almost by mistake. How? We’ll discover in a few lines.
On top of Tel Qudadi stands a relic from another empire - a memorial to the British crossing of the Yarkon (or the Auja) River . In December 1917, British forces from New Zealand and Scotland waged battle against the Ottoman Empire for control of the city of Jaffa. In two major river crossings, the British forces forced Turkish soldiers back north, gaining key positions along the river. Three such structures were built to memorialize the battle, and today can be found here, in Ramat Gan and in northern Tel Aviv. The crossing was even captured in a rare film by the British, along with other scenes from Palestine during the Great War.
Fast forward just a couple of decades, and in 1935 in the same spot of the historic river crossing, the British began the construction of the Reading Lighthouse . During its construction, Tel Qudadi was first uncovered, but it took three more years, and two years after the construction of the lighthouse, to start the first excavations of the site. The lighthouse itself first acted as a warning light for ships to avoid the shallow and rocky shore. But after the Arab Revolt of 1936 , it became the main lighthouse for the new Tel Aviv Port . It functioned until 1966 when the Port finally closed down, and remained unoperational for decades until it re-opened in 2021 as a coffee shop . The meeting of the Yarkon River and the Mediterranean has indeed seen its fair share of history. One can only wonder what else lies in the same area, and others, that we might still uncover. Images from this post are available as limited edition prints . Get there with Waze

10 secret locations in Israel waiting to be discovered

Dwarfed by the majority of almost all other countries on earth, Israel has overcome the impossible time and again to become what she is today. Packed within her borders are some of the most spectacular stories and breathtaking scenery. And while many of these are well known, some stories are still waiting to be told, places waiting to be shown. Here are ten such stories and places. 1. Abu Gosh, The Jerusalem Mountains The Western Wall, Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulchre hold their respective places in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. But time it right, and outside of the walls of the Israel's capital you can experience magical scenes, like the snowy rooftops of Abu Gosh's neighborhoods. Unfortunately, from the sky you cannot taste just how good the hummus is, and that is definitely worth the visit. Subscribe to get updates on when this story gets posted. 2. The Latrun Monastery, Latrun Hidden between the trees on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem live a commune of Trappist monks, sworn to silence. The building has stood in this spot since 1890, and has seen this land fought over by empires and nationalists, with many of the battles happening literally on their doorstep. Today they enjoy full religious freedom, and produce and sell wine from grapes grown next to the Abbey. Subscribe to get updates on when this story gets posted. 3. Mount Arbel, The Sea of Galilee Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee is a tranquil experience in itself. Climb up Mount Arbel for sunrise, as long as the sky is mostly clear, you are promised an epic view of one of Israel's most iconic areas. And believe it or not, the Kinneret has its own infinity pool... well, sort of. Subscribe to get updates on when this story gets posted 4. Jaffa Port, Jaffa A true antique in a modern world , Jaffa port is home to the stories of the Bible, tales of the Greek gods, and one unlucky fishing boat, hidden at the entrance to the Port. Today a relatively small fishing community lives and works alongside chef restaurants and museums , a true meeting point of the old and the new. Explore the Jaffa Port from above. 5. The Jezreel Valley The Valley was once the channel that connected the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. Today its rich soil the reason that a large part of Israel's agriculture thrives in this majestical and historical location. Get up for sunrise with your camera gear, drive into the valley to find any spot, and you will not be dissapointed. Experience the sunrise in the Jezreel Valley. 6. Hadera Park, Hadera Sharks. Yes, sharks. Hadera's Orot Rabin power plant is the winter spa for hundreds of Duskys who bask in the warm waters alongside curious swimmers. The real question is, would you dare get in the water with them? Read more about the sharks in Hadera 7. The Ramon Crater Israel's land of stars is the one of the only places where you can clearly see the milky way and the night sky in all its glory. The middle of the night in the middle of the Negev is the perfect time and place to lose your cell phone coverage, make a cup of strong black coffee, and just be 'there' with your camera, and other photography enthusiasts who love to chase stars. Learn more about chasing stars in the Negev. 8. Sidna Ali Beach, Herzliya A mosque on a beach is a unique site indeed, especially when it's in the center of a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Dating back to 1481, today the mosque is an active place of worship and education after a period of being closed due to the friction between Jews and Arabs. It's also a reminder that, for the most part, Israel's civilian population lives in peace and tolerance. Subscribe to get updates on when this story gets posted. 9. The Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv Secret ? Ok, not really. The Yarkon Park is a bustling highway of traffic, with hundreds of thousands of citizens using its roads, walkways and waterways to commute everyday. The secret is to find the way to discover the park from a new perspective. Let's face it, when you're kayaking with the Tel Aviv skyline on your horizon, your day is off to a pretty good start. Read the story of the kayakers in Tel Aviv. 10. Arsuf Kedem Beach While many tourists and locals frequent the Tel Aviv Promenade, just 15 minutes north lies the pristine and quiet beach of Arsuf Kedem. And yes, here too lies a little known shipwreck, the Saar , with its own story to tell. Discover the story of the Sa'ar shipwreck and Arsuf Kedem beach. 11. Habonim Beach OK, its over 10, but this beach is a bonus location that cannot be missed. Along the coast, just north of Caesarea, lie the remains of the Netz, a small fishing boat caught off guard by a storm, and lost to the tide in 1970. What the fishermen lost, every visitor to the beach gained. Where else can you climb and explore the hill of a lost boat? Discover how the Netz landed up on Habonim Beach. These ten places are just the tip of the iceberg of what Israel has to offer, and more stories and photos are available on to discover, read and even print for the walls of your home. Check back for more, and subscribe for updates that will be sent to your inbox (no spam, I promise!). And if you have a location with a story, be in touch tell me about it! - Yoav

The Netz - Shipwrecked on Habonim Beach

Take a walk along the Habonim Beach , just north of Caesarea, and you will encounter the rusting hull of The Netz, a fishing boat that has been resting here for over 50 years. Unlike the wrecks in Jaffa and Arsuf Kedem , time the tide right, and you can explore the wreck yourself as I recently did, right on the beach. But how did it get here? As it turns out, the story of this vessel is one with repetitive bad luck. Built with pride in the 1960s in Haifa by Yitzhak Ariel, the boat was originally named Elisheva, after Ariel's sister. She was a fishing vessel custom made to fit the entrances of ports along Israel's coast, with a hull designed to ease navigation over the shallow rocks of ports like Ashdod and Jaffa. Despite the care he put into planning and building the Elisheva, just one year after she first set sail, Ariel found himself in financial trouble, and was forced to sell his pride and joy. The boat was taken over by a crew from Jaffa, who also re-christened the ship "The Netz" (hawk in Hebrew). She continued to be used as a fishing trawler, and was put into periodic service to tow smaller boats when needed. However, the change of ownership, change of name and change of home port was to have little effect on the boat and its owners' luck. On March 17, 1970, The Netz left Ashdod Port to pick up and tow three small motor boats to Haifa. She would never reach her destination. Close to Hadera , she encountered a storm more intense than anticipated. The boat suffered damage to her hull and began taking on water quickly. Immediately the crew sent out a distress call to the Israeli Coast Guard, who relayed it on. The Panther, a similar size boat, left the Haifa Port to assist, but it was too late. Even before The Panther reached the stricken Netz, the final nail in the coffin was hammered into place, as the boat's towing rope got entangled in its own motor, killing the engine immediately and leaving it to the mercy of the waves and the tide. Within a few hours, the Netz was washed ashore, beached in its final resting place. Captured just hours after the storm, this photo shows the beached boat at the time of the accident, almost intact. Fast forward 52 years, and all that remains is her rusting shell, a ghost of what she was. She lies in the same spot where her crew abandoned her, a curious relic on a pristine beach that draws the attention of anyone walking by. And if you do happen to walk by, be sure to (carefully) step aboard and walk around. It's worth the wet shoes and shorts. Research & Story credit: Iftach Kozik | Seven Wonders Get there with Waze

The Jaffa Port - Biblical Stories, Greek Gods, and One Unlucky Boat

Not too many cities in Israel can boast the genuine antiquity that Jaffa can. Dating as far back as 1800 BCE, the city has been continuously built and developed as it has played key roles in the history of empires and nations. The Jaffa port is at the heart of the city's history. Among other stories, it is where Jonah fled from his destiny with Ninveh, where the Tribe of Dan “dwelled in ships” according to Deborah , and where King David and King Solomon unloaded the cedars of Lebanon for the first and second Temples. Alongside these milestones in Jewish history, Jaffa’s port also has a place in Greek mythology - one that perhaps briefly came to life in 2010. Cassiopeia, wife of Cepheus, would boast that she was more beautiful than the daughters of the sea - the Nereids. As Greek gods did, Poseidon sent Cetus the sea monster to punish Cassiopeia for her hubris, and the shore of Jaffa was ravaged until Cetus was appeased. Cassiopeia’s way of appeasing the sea monster was to sacrifice her daughter - Andromeda - chaining her to the rocks off the coast. Luckily for Andromeda, she is saved from death by Perseus who had fallen in love with her. Promised as a wife to him from her parents if he could save her, Perseus valiantly battled Cetus to death, cutting off his head which fell into the waters and became the rocks at the entrance to the Jaffa Port. Since the stories of the bible, epic battles of the gods, and more recent conflicts in recent centuries, the Jaffa port has experienced a quieter period. Out-sized by industrial ports both up and down the coast, it’s vessels belong mainly to the fishermen who supply local markets with daily catches. One day in 2010, something unusual happened at the port. As the experienced fishing crew of the “Mazal Tov” fishing trawler navigated out of the port in clear conditions, the boat unexpectedly hit the Andromeda rocks, punching a massive hole in its bow. The three man crew radioed a distress call, keeping faith that their boat could be saved. Despite the quick response of the Israeli Naval Police and other rescue boats, it became apparent that the boat was going down . Salvage efforts led to nothing, and all that was left to do was leave the boat alongside the rocks of Andromeda. Why had such experienced fishermen not correctly navigated the course out of the port - no one can say for sure. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration. Perhaps the rocks had shifted in storms of the winter of 2010, just as Jonah has experienced the storms in his plight. Perhaps Cetus awoke for a brief moment, getting just one last act of revenge before falling silent again. Whatever the reason, today the “Mazal Tov” lies quietly alongside the Greek god as Jaffa goes about another day in its history. Get there with Waze

Tragically Beautiful - The Dead Sea

A drive down road 90 a transports you to another planet. Vast, seemingly desolate plains lie under towering mountains on one side, and on the other - the shore of the lowest place on earth. The Dead Sea is a dying wonder. Years of industrial mining of its minerals, climate change and other human intervention have all created an imbalance that is rapidly expanding in this no-mans-land. Still, the Dead Sea is still one of Israel's main attractions, drawing tourists away from the center an into the heart of the desert. And here, like many places, exploring the area from a bird's eye view gives a new appreciation for this natural wonder. Not only that, it reinforces the need to find a balance between the land, and us. I recently visited the Dead Sea for the first time in over eight years. It was like no other visit before. What was a sleepy, aged tourist spot with dreary hotels has got a major facelift - with new attractions like a beachfront promenade and brand new mall. What I was interested in though, was what we cannot see from the ground. I found four locations to launch my camera in the air and look down. This is what I found: Location 1: Salt Lagoons & Mineral Pools The South ponds of the Dead Sea are made up of artificial pools from which minerals and salt are industrially harvested. Between the northern lake and southern artificial evaporation pools are pumps that regulate the flow of water through the made man channel. At Pumping Station P5, the water, ground have merged to create a salt lagoon stretching hundreds of meters from the shore, colored green by Dunaliella algae that grow in this hostile environment. Location 2- Salt Mushrooms Another form the salt takes on as water evaporates from the Dead Sea are formations that appear to grow out of the water like mushrooms. These micro-islands have appeared more and more over recent years and now spot the south pools of the Dead Sea as the water evaporates faster than it being replaced by winter rains. The mushrooms themselves are one of the central attractions that people visit on the south side of the hotel district , and are indeed a unique place to venture into the water and explore. Location 3 - The Salt Pier Not far from the salt mushrooms, on the north side of the hotel district , lies another unbelievable site - a salt pier that extends hundreds of metres out into the sea. At 5am it was time to set up camera, wait for the sun to rise and let the images speak for themselves. Location 4 - North Shore One final stop I insisted on making was along road 90 leading north. At one of the viewpoints we stopped, looked down, and saw one of the thousands of sinkholes that now dot the entire area. This one was filled with water and minerals, turning it into a natural spa, though to get to it you would need to scale down the cliff of the cut off, protected and natural north of the Dead Sea. To me, this image captured the beauty and tragedy of this majestic location, proving that even harshest lands can still be compromised by human activity. Images from this collection are now part of my genesis NFT collection - A Dead Sea - available now on OpenSea. Images are also available for prints as well art through the Store . For more information on how you can help preserve the Dead Sea's habitat, visit the Dead Sea Story , or contact me .

Would You Dare? Swimming with Sharks in Hadera

Diving with dolphins in Eilat has been an attraction for decades, but more recently a new phenomenon has drawn Israelis to another coast, just south of Caesarea, to the Orot Rabin Power Plant. Drawn to the warm temperatures of the plant's water discharge channel, tens of Dusky sharks and Sandbar Sharks now spend the winter months enjoying the relatively comfortable temperatures close to the coast. The sharks appear every year off the coast of the Hadera River Park in the open waters of the Mediterranean, and under no jurisdiction of Israel's Nature and Parks Park Authority, or other environmental organizations. As the sharks discovered the waters, more and more people have discovered the sharks, and come to swim or row alongside them. While this seems like a crazy idea, these predators seem not to be bothered much by the humans surrounding them. Still, this leaves these endangered giants in a precarious situation. While they are protected by law, the shark tourists who frequent the area are not limited from entering the water, getting too close to them, or harming them. Duskies and Sandbars, like any other shark in the Mediterranean, are facing ever increasing challenges. Overfishing, pollution and other environmental changes have reduced their numbers to dangerous levels, and in many places like Hadera, they are at the mercy of the people in their immediate vicinity. At the same time, the yearly shark gathering has also created an opportunity for research to help answer questions that we still do not know about them, and plan to keep them safe in the future. The hope is that in the coming years a safe and organized way to visit the sharks will be set up, to ensure that they keep returning to this spot. If you are planning on visiting the sharks, be sure to stick to the guidelines of the Nature and Parks Authority: Do not swim close to the sharks. Keep your distance to ensure your safety, and theirs. Do not attempt to feed the sharks. There are no lifeguard services at the beach. Swimming in the area is dangerous, especially when there are strong currents. Get there with Waze

A Daily Magic Show: Chasing Stars in The Ramon Crater

Select prints from this post are available for purchase "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth" (Genesis 1; 8-10) For centuries humans have been dependent on artificial light to illuminate our streets and homes after sunset, the consequences of which not only further disrupt nature in various ways, but also deny us seeing one of the most amazing shows on earth. There are very few places left in Israel where light pollution is low enough to experience the night sky. Only the Negev's barren landscape still offers the rare opportunity to disconnect from everything, including your cellphone coverage, and experience natural light at its most elegant. So it was off to the middle of the the Ramon Crater to find some good company, a cup of coffee in the middle of the desert (per the lyrics of Meir Ariel in B'tzaarei Yayom ), and the milky way. I joined Kfir Veler' s workshop for star chasers - a mix of Israelis from all walks of life who wanted to... well chase the stars. Our group included a retired police interrogator, two pensioners, two professional photographers, a geology student from Beer Sheva University, two IDF soldiers, and some high tech junkies like myself. The melting pot of Israelis away from their natural habitat and dumped in the middle of a crater. A short round of intros done, it was time to let the desert land and evening sky take the stage in a daily show of 3 acts Act 1 - Sunset Silhouettes Every location, from the Sea of Galilee to the Tel Aviv beach , has as it's unique sunset experience. The summer desert sunset, along with some models on hand (some admittedly a little creepy - thanks Kfir), created the backdrop for natural light photography simplicity. Act 2 - Trees, Rocks and Stars Within minutes of the dusk settling, and the dark blue of night taking over, it was time to relocate for the main act - (warning, pun) - to capture the stars of the show. Nothing can prepare you for the stunning beauty of the star constellations, the milky way, and what a camera can produce from them. All that was left was to focus and leave the cameras to their own - capturing the rotation of the earth as it spun around the north star, relax, and enjoy the brisk desert night chill. Act 3 - Sunrise The finale of the show included a trek back up the crater's winding road to stand on a precipice in howling winds as we watched the sun reappear, staring at the land below while it recaptured its browns and tans. The day started, the show ended, and life continued. But not before the group shared one more cup of coffee together. Israel's first prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, spent the latter part of his life in Sde Boker. It was his staunch, almost religious belief, that Israel's future would depend on this piece of dry land, and making it bloom. And while many parts of the Negev indeed grow - in human population, technology, agriculture and more, its certainly not a bad thing that a large enough area is left as is - untouched and protected - so that we have where to escape to once in a while. Special thanks to Kfir Veler , Tomer Shenkar and Ran Finkels

River Meets Sea: Kayaking through Tel Aviv

I came across Amit and his crew from the Daniel Rowing Center (Merkaz Daniel) just off the shore of northern Tel Aviv, as they reached the meeting point between the river and the Mediterranean Sea. Not only were they cool with a drone above their head, they also showed off some really awesome kayaking coordination before turning back upriver to the Center. The mouth of the Yarkon meets the sea at the Wokop Bridge , which holds it own historic significance dating back to the British Mandate. Part of the area - Tel Qudadi - dates back even further to the Assyrian Empire in the 8th century BCE. Today it connects Tel Aviv Port (the Namal) to the promenade that extends all the way to Herzliya , running across the now abandoned Sde Dov Airport . Get there with Waze

Beach Life - Herzliya

While some beaches, and harbours, like Herzliya and Tel Aviv, are hubs of activity, beaches in-between these spots contain lesser known, but no less amazing secrets - like the Sidna Ali Mosque , or the story of the Sa'ar Shipwreck near Arsuf Kedem.

Beach Life - Tel Aviv

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