The trail climbs up the third hill and brings us to a large sloping slab of rock at the end of which is a cistern with an attractive mouth. Hedges of prickly pear grow nearby. The cistern, the prickly-pear hedges and the ruins further along the path are all that remains of the Arab village of Jaba. This village, together with Ein Ghazal to the south of the Ofer Scenic Lookout, and Ijzim, which was located where Moshav Kerem Maharal now stands, was referred to during Israel’s War of Independence as the Little Triangle, to differentiate it from the Big Triangle that encompassed the area between Tul Karm, Nablus and Jenin.
These villages refused to surrender even after the IDF had occupied the area that surrounded them. Their residents, apparently with the support of an Iraqi force, attacked Jewish transport vehicles on the Tel Aviv to Haifa road, and on July 18th 1948, two Jewish travelers were killed near Jaba. The IDF demanded that the villagers surrender or evacuate, but they refused, and repulsed two attacks by the IDF on July 18th and 19th.
On July 24th the IDF set out to conquer these villages in Mivtza Shoter (“Operation Policeman”). The name was deliberately chosen so as to give the operation the appearance of a police initiative, as this was the period of the second lull in the fighting, and the villages were situated in an area that, under the Partition Plan, would be part of the State of Israel. Forces from the Golani, Carmeli and Alexandroni brigades, backed up by artillery, descended upon the villages, but were driven back. Another attempt the following day was similarly unsuccessful. After being shelled by cannons, mortars and aircraft the villagers finally yielded, and their fighters withdrew to Wadi Ara. When the assault was renewed on July 26th, the villages were captured almost without resistance. A memorial to those who fell in Operation Policeman can be seen at Moshav Ein Ayala.
The trail continues southwards along the spur to the tomb of Sheikh Amir, in what was once the cemetery of the village of Jaba. The building is still intact, and has even undergone renovation; its dome has been painted a startling pinkish violet. If you observe the entrance to the prayer building from the outside, you will notice a sort of gutter on the right that collected the water running off the roof and channeled it into the hole hewn into the ground at its foot.
About 100 meters after the tomb, further along the green trail, we come to a black-marked path in a valley into which we walked down at the start of our route from the Ofer Scenic Lookout. Now we need only ascend this now-familiar trail until we reach the scenic lookout – a distance of about half a kilometer.
A suggestion for a brief one-way route
If you have more than one vehicle at your disposal, you can leave one of them in the Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve parking lot and finish your walk there. This route is just four kilometers in length, and it is suitable for all the family, including children ten years old and over.