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The People and The Land

The Geography of Palestine

Palestine constitutes the southwestern part of a huge geographical unit in the eastern part of the Arab world, which is Belad El-Sham. In addition to Palestine , Sham contains Lebanon , Syria and Jordan . It previously had common borders with these countries, in addition to Egypt .

The borders of Palestine start with Lebanon at Ras El-Nakoura at the Mediterranean Sea and head in a straight line to the east until it reaches the area beyond the small Lebanese city of Bent J ubayel , where the separating line between the two countries curves to the north at a straight angle. At that point, the border comes around the fountain of the Jordan River , and a narrow passage adjacent to it from the east connects it with the land of Syria and the lakes Al-Huleh, Lout and Tabarriyya.

The border with Jordan begins to the south of Tabarriyya Lake at the drainage of the Al-Yarmouk River . It continues along the Jordan River . From the fountain of the Jordan River , the border heads south across the middle of the Dead Sea and the Araba Valley until it reaches the Gulf of Aqaba .

The borders with Egypt could be compared to a straight line that separates the Seena (Sinai) Peninsula and Al-Naqab ( Negev ) desert. The border begins at Rafah at the Mediterranean Sea until it reaches Taba at the Gulf of Aqaba .

On the west side, Palestine lies next to the international open waters of the Mediterranean Sea at a distance of about 250 km from Ras El-Nakoura in the north to Rafah in the south.

Because of its location in the middle of several Arab countries, Palestine constitutes a combination of natural and human geography for a wide terrestrial field that comprises the originality of Bedouin life in the south and the style of long settlement in the north. The Palestinian land is featured with being part of the first man's home, the place for all the celestial religions, the place were ancient civilizations rose and a bridge for commercial activities and military incursions across so many different historical eras. The strategic location that Palestine enjoys allowed it to be a connecting factor between the continents of the ancient worlds of Asia , Africa and Europe . It is a place that allows for easy travel to other adjacent places. It was a crossing bridge for people from a long time, and it enjoys a focal location that attracts all those who want to settle down and live in prosperity. Therefore, it is quite natural that Palestine was the centre for the greed of many to have it under control and to exploit its merits.

For both peace and war, the location of Palestine is of great significance. In the ancient times, Palestine represented one of the most important trade routes. It connected the homes of civilizations of the Nile Valley and the southern areas of the Arab peninsula on one hand and the homes of civilizations in the northern areas in Belad El-Sham and Iraq on the other. Palestine has always been a passage for trade caravans before and after the coming of Islam. The Arab caravans used to head to Palestine from the Arab peninsula in the summer as part of the summer and winter journeys mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.

It was also a passage for the Arabian tribes that came from the Arab peninsula on their way to Belad El-Sham or Northern Africa . Some of these tribes settled in Palestine , while others settled in the neighbouring regions.

The importance of the commercial location of Palestine increased during the Mamaleek era when it used to be a passage for the commercial caravans that carried goods from the Far East to Europe and vice versa. The trade ships used to stop at Aden and unload their cargo so that it would be transported by caravans across Yemen and Hejaz and then to the Palestinian ports on the Mediterranean Sea . The ships in the ports waited to be loaded with different kinds of goods such as silk, perfumes , jewellery, and the like, to be transferred to European ports.

Palestine still enjoys the importance of its commercial location because it represents a connection between the seasonal and circular environments in Southern Asia and the Near East on the one hand and the environments of the Mediterranean Sea and middle and Western Europe on the other. There is no doubt, however, that the different environments with their varied products share a great deal of commercial transactions. Thus the location of Palestine connects the agricultural civilization of the East with the industrial civilization of the West. Therefore Palestine became an important passage for the international trade and travellers alike on land, sea and air.

On the other hand, the Palestinian ports provided its neighbours to the east in Syria and Jordan with its services until 1948. The Jordanian international trade depended highly upon these ports, but it changed its geographical direction after the Zionist occupation of Palestine took place. Thereafter, the Jordanian traders headed to the Lebanese and the Syrian ports, in addition to the Gulf of Aqaba . The Iraqi oil that was flowing from the field of Karkouk to the north of Iraq to Haifa 's refinery also stopped in 1948.

If we exclude the Gaza port, whose services were limited to the Gaza district, the rest of the Palestinian ports, whether on the Mediterranean such as Haifa , Jaffa , Asdoud, Akka and Ashkelon or on the Gulf of Aqaba such as Elat, still provide the Zionist a great service. This is because the direction of the Palestinian trade stretches across the ports of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe , North America , Latin America , across the Elat port to southern Asia , the Far East and to the eastern side of Africa .

As to the military significance of the Palestinian location, it stems from the fact that Palestine was the center of so many military campaigns because it was a passage to other countries for military incursions that took place. So many nations and forces occupied Palestine such as the Babylonians, the Ashourians , Al-Hethyeen, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans, until it was finally joined with the great Islamic state and became a very important part of it. In the late eighteenth century, Palestine was attacked in the campaign led by Napoleon Bonaparte, whose aim was to occupy Belad El-Sham. He failed at occupying Akka because of the great bravery shown by the people of Palestine and the leader of Akka , Ahmed El -Azaz .

In the present century, Palestine was subject to a British invasion during the First World War, which led to the ousting of the Ottomans and the occupation of Palestine under the pretext of a British mandate. Britain and the allied forces took great advantage of Palestine 's location in the Second World War. Before leaving Palestine on May 25, 1948 , the British paved the way for the erection of a Zionist entity in Palestine to serve as a base for western countries and as a separation point that divides the body of the Muslim Arab nation. From 1948 to the present, the Zionist entity still holds Palestine captive and exploits its merits and makes use of its strategic geographical location for its hostile and malicious anti-Arab plans.

Borders and Area

The border between Egypt and Palestine was drawn in the year 1906, while the borders with Palestine , Syria and Lebanon were drawn in 1920 in accordance with a French-British agreement. The United Nations approved the British memorandum concerning the definition of the eastern frontier between Palestine and Jordan on September 23, 1922 . Britain and France made further modifications to the Palestinian borders with Syria and Lebanon in the years 1922 and 1923. These modifications included some of the Syrian and Lebanese lands as part of Palestine .

The area of Palestine under the British mandate was 27,000 square kilometres, and the length of its borders, on the land and sea, is 949 km, 719 km of which are land borders and 230 km of which are sea borders. The Palestinian-Jordanian border is the longest land border for Palestine . It is about 360 km long, whereas the length of the border with Egypt is around 210 km, that with Lebanon is about 79 km and that with Syria is around 70 km. The Palestinian coast on the Mediterranean is about 224 km, and the length of the coast on the Gulf of Aqaba is only 6 km.

If we look carefully at the map of Palestine, we would immediately notice its rectangular shape whose length of about 450 km begins from the north near Banias on the Syrian border to the south in the Aqaba Gulf. The width hardly surpasses 180 km in its longest part. This prolonged shaped is not very useful because it is neither circular nor square, which will ultimately lead to the dismantling of Palestine rather than uniting it. The border Palestine has makes it a land-sea country, albeit the land side predominates. Furthermore, the border seems too long for the country's total area; for each 37.5 square kilometres, there is 1 kilometre of the border length for Palestine ; this is a big ratio indeed. It signifies a great weakness on the military side if compared with the borders of other countries.

The northern borders of Palestine along the Mediterranean begin at Ras Al-Nakoura in the west. They run in a straightforward manner towards the east, and suddenly to the north as if it were a peninsula that stretches between Syria to the east and Lebanon to the west at a distance of more than 30 km. These borders were designed to satisfy the Zionists. They wanted the northern border to start at the Litani River , i.e., to the north of the present borders comprising about 40 km. They also wanted the fountains of the rivers Banias and Al-Qadhi to be within the borders of Palestine . This unusual request was received with some resistance by the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon . France insisted that the fountains of the two rivers be within the Syrian border to secure the road that connects the southwest of Syria to the north and east of Lebanon in compensation for the rivers of Litani and Banias. This northern expansion was meant to include the higher fountains of the River Jordan. This would include it to Palestine along with some of the Syrian lands that were close to the rivers Banias and Al-Qadhi. Some of the Lebanese villages close to the rivers Hasbani and Litani, such as Mansoura, Salha, Hwueen and Tarbekha, were also included.

The eastern borders from the north to the south clearly begin at the Banias Syrian village and then head towards the south, leaving the Jordan River and its fountains inside the border of Palestine . The border also runs parallel to the hills of Al-Hola, another indication that it also falls within Palestine . The borders also come near the northeastern shores of Tabarriyya Lake , a distance of no more than 10 metres, until it reaches the site of Masfeer at the middle of the eastern shore, where it starts to move away until it reaches the Yarmouk River . The borders begin to move away and are far from the lake, about 3 km or more. At this point, the border runs parallel with the Jordan River and continues through the Dead Sea until it reaches the Gulf of Aqaba .

The border with Egypt was made in accordance with the agreement made in the year 1906 between the representatives of the Ottoman State and the Khedewui dynasty in Egypt . This border represented a managerial separation between the state of Hejaz and Jerusalem on one part, and with the Seena Peninsula on the other. The border was mostly a straight line and ran parallel with the longitude 34 to the east. The line runs through the eastern part of Seena across the peaks of the desert hills to connect Rafah on the Mediterranean and Taba at the Gulf of Aqaba . Britain approved the border the moment it was announced.

The Regional Elevations

Palestine is characterized by the clarity of the shapes of its surface and the simplicity of its geological structure, which is composed of various layers of rocky basalt stones, mud and granite. This is typical throughout most of the geological ages from the first geological period up to the modern times.

The shape of the land's surface varies from below sea-level depressions and flat plains, which rise a little bit on the sea level, to the medium and high mounds that have several mountains. Despite the fact that Palestine 's area is relatively small –27,000 square kilometres– and its structure is simple, it has the following regional elevations:

1. The Coastal Plains Region

This region stretches from Ras Al-Nakoura in the north to Rafah in the south. It is confined between mountains in the east and the Mediterranean in the west.

This region is composed of plain flat land close to the sea level. Though the surface is generally plain, there are some small heights, some sand hills and some glens that cut through the region, coming from the mountain heights and heading to the Mediterranean Sea . The land is generally descending from east to west.

It is important to note that the seacoast stretches in a straight line; there are no curves or bays, except for the bay of Akka , which was formed owing to a depression in the land. There are also some little edges that move slightly into the sea, such as Ras El-Karmel, Al-Nakoura and Jaffa .

The coastal plains consist of coastal sand precipitation mixed with those of mud and small stones that were brought from the mountains by the glens. This material forms the red sand of the Mediterranean . This sand is characterized with being light, fertile and parasitic. It keeps humidity and can be easily ventilated, making it ideal for citrus fruits, grapes, olives and many other types of plants. In addition to the fertility of the land, it is also rich in groundwater.

Despite the relative flatness of the surface of this plain, it starts to rise inwardly from the sea. It appears as a high plain surrounded at the base with the heights of middle Palestine from the east. It is locally known as the plain of Salouna. This part of the land of Palestine is geographically unique in many ways. The most important part is probably its sea climate, which is very moderate in its temperature. It is the warmest area in Palestine in the winter, and the coolest in the summer. The temperature does not drop below 19 degrees in December and never exceeds 26 degrees in August, on average. More important is the seasonal winter rain, which can exceed 800 cubic millimetres of rain annually in the north in Karmel. However, the average rainfall decreases in the regions further south. The city of Rafah never gets more than 150 cubic millimetres of rain annually.

The Akka plain, which starts from Ras El-Nakoura, has black sand and is suitable for growing vegetables, fruits and oranges. It is 12 km wide at Akka. This plain is full with hills that indicate that it was populated by a people who used to farm the land from the time of Al Jazar.

The coastal plain of Sharon starts from Karmel and expands from 200 metres in width until it reaches 35 kilometres southwards to Jaffa . The sands of Sharon are formed by the crumbling of rocks at various locations and then transferred by natural forces. The salts of the crumbled rocks melt in the water, which gives the soil more fertility. Beneath the precipitated soils there are calcite rocks that were degenerated by the influence of carbonic acid. Because of the abundance of iron in this soil, it appears red, it is easy to crumble, and it is suitable for growing grains and citrus fruits.

2. The Mountain Highlands Region

This region is composed of mounds and small mountain chains through which there are some internal plains. This region is often seen as the backbone of the Palestinian land, and it stretches from the north to the farthest point in the south at the Naqab desert.

The height of the region does not generally exceed 1,000 metres. The land gradually descends towards the internal plains in the west and more towards the east, until it reaches the Jordan Valley with its mountain edges and high cliffs. The valleys have dug deeply into the calcite mounds from the Mediterranean Sea at the west to the Jordan River at the east. Most of these valleys are dry or seasonal and flood with water immediately after the rainfall.

The region of mountain heights can be divided into two units : Al-Jaleel ( Galilee ) and the middle mountain chain.

(a) Al-Jaleel. Palestinian expansion of Al-Jaleel is often considered an extension of the Lebanese Al-Jaleel, which is also known as the mass of Amel Mountain . The height of the land in Al-Jaleel rises gradually, and it reaches its highest point in the north at Al-Jaleel Al-A'ala. Its lowest point is in the south at the plain of Marj Ibn Amer. Al-Jaleel mass descends sharply to the Jordan Valley at the highest point and the middle point descends to the east. However, it descends gradually to the plain of Akka to the west. Al-Jaleel area is estimated to be 2,083 square kilometres. Al-Jaleel can be divided into the following subdivisions:

(i) Al-Jaleel Al-A'ala (the Highest) consists of a high mountain mound with a length of 40 km from east to west. Its width is 25 km from north to south. The Jarmaq Mountain is considered the highest in its chain with a height of 1,208 metres to the northwest of Safad, which is the highest peak in Palestine . Many valleys extend from Jarmaq and head to the northwest, the northeast and the east. There are other high mountains in Al-Jaleel such as Canaan Mountain (936 m [on which the city of Safad was erected]), Haydar Mountain (1,047 m [to the north of Al Ramah village]) and Adathir Mountain (1,006 m [near the village of Sa'sa'a]). The mound of Al-Jaleel Al-A'ala was subject to great depressions and volcanic eruptions in the ancient geological times. These activities left black basaltic spots over the surface of the mound and many breaking valleys that head to the Jordan Valley . Thus the land there is very coarse and rough.

(ii) Al-Jaleel Al-Adna (the Lowest) begins to the south of Al-Jaleel Al-A'ala. The valley of Shagour separates them from each other. It is less high, with a height of no more than 200 m above sea level. It is also more fertile than the northern parts. Its length is about 50 km from east to west, and its width is more than 15 km from north to south. It is composed of parallel mountain chains extending from east to west, between which there are many wide valleys and open plains. The most important of these mountains are Tabour or Tour Mountain (562 m) to the east of Nassira (Nazareth) ; Al-Dahhi or Harmoun El-Sageer Mountain ( 550 m) to the south of Nassira; and Al-Nabi Sa'een Mountain (500 m), which is one of the peaks surrounding Al-Nassira. The most important valleys are the Al-Fajjas Valley and Al-Beera Valley ; they both end at the Jordan River . One of its famous plains is the Hitteen plain on which the battle of Hitteen took place and Salah El-Deen defeated the Crusaders. There is also the Battouf Plain on which the Zionist entity erected a dam to store the water from the Jordan River . This area also witnessed a depression in the ancient geological periods. As a result, low level plains emerged along with the black basaltic spots. The hot mineral water fountains were erupted in the area of Himma near Tabarriyya.

(iii) The plain of Marj Ibn Amer was named after the clan of Bani Amer from Bani Kalb, who inhabited the area at the first Islamic entrance into the city. It was called the "Marj" (the Meadow) because of the growth of wild bushy plants on it and because of its wide open area in which cattle roamed freely. This plain was formed as a result of the land depressions that took place a long time ago. It is characterized by its flatness, though with some small heights here and there, and the existence of high steep cliffs at the edges. There are many opening passages that connect the plain to other areas. The most famous passages are the passage of Majdou and the valley of the Mukatta' River, which connect it to the coastal plains of Palestine , and the valley of Zar'een , which connects it to the depression through Baysan and then to Irbid to the east and to Damascus to the north. The road of Jenin-Sahl Arabeh also connects this plain to the middle areas and south of Palestine . This plain separates Al-Jaleel from the mountains of Nablus and Al Karmel. Its height is about 60 to 75 metres above sea level. Its length is about 40 km from west to east, and its width is about 19 km from north to south. Its area is estimated to be 351 square km. In the middle, at Al-Afouleh, its land starts to descend towards the east to the Jordan Valley (the depression of Baysan), where the Jalout valley runs and its waters are drained into the Jordan River . The land also descends towards the west to the plain of Akka where the Mukatta' river runs until it reaches the Gulf of Akka . Its soil is mostly mud that is suitable for growing grains, and it is considered one of the fertile lands in Palestine . That is why the Zionists settled in it first after the British mandate.

(iv)The middle mountain chain stretches between Marj Ibn Amer to the north and the area of Beer El-Sabe' to the south. Its area, including Karmel Mountain , is estimated to be 529 square kilometres. It is comprised of a high mound in which there are some closed plains that are surrounded by the mountains. Its surface is irregular and varies between the plain easy lands to the tough mountain terrain. The dry valleys that descend towards the Mediterranean to the west and the Jordan Valley to the east managed to cut this mound into deep calcite formations. The mound is adjacent to the lower part of the Jordan Valley with very sharp rough heights such as Al-Jabal El-Kabeer Mountain , Ras Um El-Kharouba, Um Halal, Qarn Sartaba, Al-Qrantal Mountain , Ras El-Fashkha, Ras Turba, Ras El-Marsad, Khashem Asdoum and many others bordering the Dead Sea . The mound descends gradually to the west where it meets the hills of the eastern extremes of the coastal plain. We can divide the middle heights into two halves: Nablus Mountain in the north, and the mountains of Al-Quds (Jerusalem ) and Al-Khalil ( Hebron ) to the south.

Nablus Mountains stretch north-westerly to reach Karmel Mountain , which ends in the Mediterranean Sea . It stretches towards the south to the valleys of Deir Balout , which are the upper waters of the river Aooja, which heads to the north of Jaffa . It should be noted that the Nablus Mountains are not separated from the Jerusalem Mountains , rather the mountain bows meet each other, forming a continuing united chain. The length of the Nablus Mountains is estimated to be 65 km from north to south. Its width is estimated to be 55 km from west to east.

Ebal (or Northern) Mountain (940 m) represents the highest peak in this chain and is comparable to the Jarzeem (or Southern) Mountain (881 m). The city of Nablus is erected on these two mountains, and its buildings cover the valley between the two mountains. There are other mountains as well, such as the Faqou'a Mountain and Jabloun Mountain to the northeast side of Jenin, the Aqra' Mountain , Bayazeed Mountain , Bilal Mountain and many others. Throughout these mountains there are some plains such as the Araba plain (30,000 acres), Sanour plain (Marj El-Garaq) with an area of 20,000 acres, and the plain of Makhna, which stretches along the eastern bases of the Ebal and Jarzeem mountains. The most important valleys of the Nablus Mountains that descend east to the Jordan River are Al-Baden, Al-Farei'a and Al-Maleh. As to the valleys heading west to the Mediterranean, there is only one important one and that is the valley through which the Aouja River runs, which ends to the north of Jaffa.

The mound of Jerusalem and Al-Jaleel stretches from the middle of Nablus and Jerusalem (the village of Beiteen ) in the north towards Beer El- Sabe' (Beer Sheeva) in the south for a distance of about 90 km. This mound lies in the middle between the lower Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the east and the southern coastal plain to the west. Its width is from 40 to 50 km, including the part that is next to the Dead Sea and its western cliffs that are adjacent to the coastal plain.

The mound is basically composed of calcite, which makes good building materials, especially in the area of Jerusalem . With the passage of time, the mound was subject to many changes that led to the melting of its calcite formations owing to the influence of rainfalls and the floods of the dry valleys. The mound then was cut into separate hills and mountain chains, in addition to the formation of caves and rough terrain.

The mountains around the mound form two curved bows over it; one of them is known as Al-Khalil Bow--Bayt Laham (Bethlehem), and the other is called the Bow of Jerusalem--Ramallah. A relatively low threshold in the Jerusalem area separates the two bows. The mound is also prone to cracking, especially in the eastern area where waterfalls descend in gradual levels from relatively high altitudes with steep cliffs in the Dead Sea area.

As for the western waterfalls, they descend gradually to the coastal plain and end in the form of hills into the depth of the coastal plain. The mound was clearly divided by the influence of dry and seasonal valleys such as the Ali valley (Bab El-Wad), Al-Sarrar valley and Al-Khalil valley. The following are the most important valleys descending to the east: Al-Aouja valley and Al-Qalt valley, both of which end in the Jordan River , and the Nar Valley and the Zwueera Valley , both of which end in the Dead Sea .

The most important mountains in Jerusalem are Tal El-Asour (1,016 m), Al Nabi Samuel (885 m), Al-Ma (819 m), Al-Tour or Al-Zaytoun (826 m) and Al-Makbar (795 m). The most important mountains in Hebron are Khalet Batrikh (1,020 m), Halhoul (1,013 m), Su'eer (1,018 m), Bani Na'eem (951 m) and Doura (838 m). The mountain region ends about 24 km to the south of Hebron , near the Dhahirrya village, where the desert mound of Palestine starts.

3. The Jordan Valley Region

This entrenched region stretches over the eastern part of Palestine from the Sheik mountains in the north to the Aqaba Gulf in the south. The eastern part of this prolonged region enters the Jordanian borders, while its western side enters the Palestinian lands.

The length of the Jordan Valley is more than 420 km long, and it is a subdivision of a major system that contains a group of entrenched successive valleys. That is, it is a very small part of the African-Asian system that stretches a distance of 6,000 km from the latitude 20 to the south in Mozambique to the northern latitude 45 in Turkey to contain 65 latitudinal degrees, i.e., a fifth of the earth's circumference.

The Jordan Valley is among the depressions that attract great attention all over the world. That is because the Dead Sea is located there, which is the lowest spot below the sea level in the entire world. The Jordan Valley begins at the Sheikh Mountain , ascending for about 160 metres above the sea level. No sooner than it starts to descend towards the south, where it reaches the height of 70 metres at Al-Huleh Lake (previously), and to the sea level at the bridge of Banat Ya'qoub on the Jordan River to the north of Tabarriyya Lake, then it descends below the sea level in Tabarriyya Lake, which is 212 metres below the sea level. Thereafter, it reaches the lowest level below the sea when it gets to the Dead Sea , which is 398 metres below sea level. The deepest point at the bottom of the Dead Sea is about 797 metres below sea level. Then the height of the land starts to increase the more it heads to the south of the Dead Sea , where the height reaches 240 metres above sea level. The Ajram area represents the dividing line between the waters of the Dead Sea to the north and the Red Sea (the Gulf of Aqaba ) to the south. The height of the land in the Araba valley starts to go down again to the south of Al-Ajram as it nears the Aqaba Gulf .

The Jordan Valley was formed out of the severe depressions and cracks that led to its collapse to the depths we see today. It was connected to the sea for a while, and then it was separated from it as the marine formations precipitated from underneath. In the raining age, part of the Jordan Valley was covered with the water in what was known then as the ancient Jordanian Lake , which stretched from the Tabarriyya Lake in the north to about 30 km to the south of the present Dead Sea . This Lake disappeared thousands of years before the historic period, and nothing remained from it but the Tabarriyya Lake and the Dead Sea . We concluded the existence of the lake by observing the marine precipitation of the formations of Marn El-Lisan . The Jordan River appeared and found its way into these formations.

We can distinguish between two levels of land in the Jordan Valley --the level of the depression and the level of Zour. The depression (Al-Ghor) is the higher of the two levels that is formed from the ancient marine precipitation and is mostly covered by new mud layers. As for the Zour, it is the lower level formed from the precipitation of the Jordan River . The height difference between the depression and the Zour is between 20 to 40 metres. They are separated from each other by a group of rough harsh lands known locally as the Al-Katar.

The width of the Jordan Valley varies from 5 km to the north of Aqaba to 35 km on the latitude of Areha to the north of the Dead Sea .

From its two mountain borders, the bottom of the Valley descends to the Jordan River , which is considered a natural drainage for the water streams in the Jordan Valley . The most important valleys that come to the Jordan Valley from the Palestinian mountain heights on their way to the Jordan River are the valleys of Hindaj, Amod, Al-Beera, Jaloud, Al Farei'a, Al-Maleha, Al-Aouja and Al-Qalt.

The valleys east of the Jordan River are Al-Yarmouk, Al Arab, Zeqlab, Al-Yabis, Kafernajja, Rajeb, Al-Jaram, Al-Zarqa, Shu'eeb, Al-Kufreen and Hasban. These are either dry or seasonal, or permanent valleys. Owing to the difference between the heights upon which these valleys run, they descend suddenly to the depression land unload much of their burden in what is known as the flooding fans surrounding their streams near the bases of the high mountains.

4. The Region Desert Mound (Al-Naqab)

This region is composed of a desert mound that stretches along the south of Palestine and takes the form of a triangle, whose basis connects the southern part of the Dead Sea and Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea . Its head is located at the Aqaba Gulf .

The area of the mountainous part of this mound is estimated to be 8,294 square kilometres, i.e., more than 79% of the total area of the mound. This mound is considered to be a junction between the Jerusalem mound and Hebron to the north and the mound of the Seena Peninsula to the south. It is also a southern expansion to the Palestinian heights, which represent the backbone of Palestine . This mound is also adjacent to the Araba valley in the east with a chain of harsh rough mountain borders from which the dry valleys descend on their way to the Araba valley. It then gradually descends to the west to the southern coastal plain, which receives a group of dry valleys on their way to the sea.

The shapes of the surface of the mound vary from the mountain chains and small mounds to the closed and small plains. The terrain is very rough and harsh, to the degree that some scientists describe it as the giants of Naqab instead of the mountains of Naqab.

The sharpness of the appearance of the terrain varies from one site to the other. It is low on the north as if it were a plain, with vast extremes especially the area that stretches to the west and south of Beer Sabe' City. However, it gets rougher to the south of Beer Sabe' in the area of middle Naqab where the heights increase to more than 1,000 metres above sea level.

It is interesting to note that the mountains to the southwest of Beer Sabe' are higher than those in the other areas of Naqab. These mountains represent a natural expansion to Seena's southern mountains, and its height ranges from between 600 and 1,035 metres above the sea level.

Ras El-Rumman (1,035 m), which lies at the Egyptian-Palestinian border, is considered the highest peak in these mountains. It is also the third highest Palestinian mountain.

These mountains are comprised of Ajrameyya (1,015 m), Quroun El-Rumman (1,006 m), Sammawi (1,006 m), Ras El-Kharashe (1,000 m), Kharouf (1,000 m), Areef (957 m) and Edeed (935 m). The mountains to the southeast of Beer Sabe' range in height between 500 and 844 metres, namely Abu Alaleeq (844 m), Huthera (716 m), Ras Erdeha (713 m), Haleqem (625 m) and Um Tarfa (525 m).

The desert mound sustained several depressions in some of its more ancient parts, especially in the middle Naqab. This resulted in the height inconsistencies of the level of the land.

The mound was subject to the influence of many dry valleys and to soil degradation, either by the wind or by water, resulting in the formation of precipitation of sand, mud and small stones. These precipitants moved to far distances, where they precipitated again over wide areas of the northern Naqab, whether in Beer Sabe' or the eastern, northern or western sides of the Naqab itself. These precipitants resulted in the formation of what is known as the bow desert soil, which is basically composed of sand and small stones.

Climate and Water

The climate of Palestine fluctuates between the climate of the Mediterranean Sea and a desert climate. It is affected by both the sea and the desert. The climate of the sea dominates, though there are times in which it is influenced by the desert climate.

Text: The Palestinian Information Center
Map: Palestine Land Society

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