Found in: Local councils in Israel
Metula is a town in the Northern District of Israel. Metula is located between the sites of the Biblical cities of Dan, Abel Bet Maacah, and Ijon, bordering Lebanon.
Metula was founded in 1896 on 12,800 dunams of land bought from a Lebanese Christian from Sidon by Baron de Rothschild's chief officer the previous year. It had been inhabited and cultivated by more than 600 Druze tenant farmers. The tenants received paltry compensation and were driven off the land in the spring of 1896. The settlement suffered prolonged harassment, including the murder of a man in his sleep, from the dislocated families until 1904 when the settlers paid them a further 60,000 francs .
History and early pioneers
The Jewish settlement was founded in June 1896 by 60 farming families from more established settlements and 20 families of non-farming professions. Most of the founders were immigrants from Russia who were fleeing pogroms (riots against Jews occurring during that period in Russia). Pioneers (halutzim) from Petah Tikva also joined in settling Metula, as did some scholars from Safed. Half a century later, Holocaust survivors found refuge in Metula.
Defensive positions were located along both sides of the main road, and were part of the settlement's perimeter defence network during the 1936-39 riots. Building were made of cement, with rectangular slits. The positions were manned by militia and the men of Metullah, and remained in use up until the War of Independence.
Illegal immigrants passed through here between 1920-1923, when Metullah was used as a transit stop into the British Mandate of Palestine from the French mandatory territory in Syria and Lebanon. The flow of illegal immigrants increased in 1933-34. Often, immigrants were robbed along the way. The residents of Metullah hid the newcomers in their homes, and would even stage fictitious weddings, at the end of which all the "celebrants" would be transported in trucks to the center of the country, far from the border.
The bridge over Nahal Ayyun (left background) was built by the Britain in the years 1943-44. On June 17, 1946 (Night of the bridges) all four Palmach battalions (the Haganah elite units) captured and destroyed 11 border bridges to hinder enemy forces to enter the country. As consequence, the British soldiers imprisoned many Yishuv leaders and Palmah members, on June 29, 1946, ("Black Sabbath"). The bridge was blown up again by Palmach during the War of Independence. The bridge was reconstructed in the 1980s.
The Safari Disaster In the afternoon of Sunday, March 10, 1985, a convoy of IDF soldiers on their "Safari" model trucks were driving from Metula towards the Lebanese town of Marjayoun. Dozens of soldiers, just returned from Shabat, were on their way to duty. In accordance with regulations, one armed jeep in the forefront and two on the tail, the soldiers were wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests. They were just crossing the narrow bridge over Nahal Ayyun at 13:45, when they noticed on the other side a red Chevrolet pickup truck driving towards them. The soldiers of the first jeep noticed just one driver, smiling friendly. They signaled him to pull over to let the convoy pass. The first jeep and the first safari truck passed, when at 13:50 a tremendous explosion occurred, which shattered windows even back in Metula. The red truck exploded in a huge fireball, and hurled soldiers through the air. Twelve soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the explosion.
The Good Fence was a border crossing from Metula to Lebanon opened 1976 and closed in 2000 after Israel's withdrawal of Lebanon. The border crossing allowed the population of southern Lebanon to find a job in northern Israel, to get health services, to attend school in Israel and to transport goods.
Area and population
The municipality governs a land area of 2,000 dunams (2 km). According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in September 2003 Metula had a population of 1,400, predominantly Jewish. Metula was declared a local council in 1949. Also according to the CBS, the population over the years was:
1948 - 172
1961 - 261
1972 - 333
1983 - 589
1995 - 942
2003 - 1400
Israel's only Olympic-size ice rink is located in a local sports complex. The Canada Centre is home club to most Israeli figure skaters, and it hosts the national championships Israeli Figure Skating Championships whenever they are held.
It also houses a touristic, 4 position firing range.
Geography and climate
Metula is the northernmost town in Israel (although the municipal borders of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights exceed it), located on the Israel-Lebanon border north of Qiryat Shemona at 520 m above sea level.
The average annual rainfall is 900 mm. Winters are usually cold and wet, and summers warm and dry. Snowfall occurs once in a number of years. The river Nahal Ayoun has its sources in Lebanon, about seven kilometers north of Metulla.