In the early morning we set off to Israel's Syrian border, passing the sea of Galilea and pushing deep into the Golan heights. It is a controversial area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It became annexed in 1981 but was never recognized internationally. Since then it became steadily cultivated by Israeli settlers however.
There has always been an uncertainty about the future of the region which is contested internationally. might be given back to Syria someday but those chances have dropped significantly since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. But there is less discussion of the issue recently due to the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
At the UN post on Bental Hill we meet an Irish colonel overseeing the UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) mission in the Golan Heights. On his request he remains anonymous as he is also obligated to report to Damascus and doesn't want to be accused of spying (this might seem ridiculous but it is a serious concern). His mission was established after the Yom-Kippur war in 1973 and their task is to keep an eye on Syrian- and Israeli' military activities in the region, preventing the possibility of a sneak attack by one of the rival nations.
From the edge of Israel's border with Syria we move to Metula. A town that is 270 degrees surrounded by the Lebanese border and has often been the front line in Israel's wars against Hezbollah.
Today it seems quiet however, the streets almost desolate. But the outbreak of a new conflict is a possibility 24/7, all year long. The tension that comes with it is almost tangible and only stressed by the fact that our bus is suddenly followed by the towns security detail at request of the army. They want to know what a large group of people is doing so close to the border.
If you take a look over the fence you can see Hezbollah and Lebanese flags proudly waving on the other side. It's a not so subtle reminder of the relationship between the two neighbouring countries. Their fear of each other is still omnipresent as our guide Oshrat Nagar, the towns public relations director, explains. Up on the hill on the other side you can see a quarry for example. Nothing special you would say, but ms. Nagar tells us that the citizens of the town fear that Hezbollah might be using the site to dig tunnels underneath the border.