Reconnaissance Platoon 7 is the reconnaissance platoon of the IDF’s Seventh Brigade, and the memorial at the site commemorates soldiers from the unit who fell in a number of battles over the generations. The road opposite the memorial leads to Mount Hermonit and the Beqaa Valley, where the platoon engaged in bitter combat to block the enemy advance during the Yom Kippur War (October 9th, 1973).
This site has undergone a number of reincarnations. In 1973, with the help of KKL-JNF, the bereaved families and friends of the fallen soldiers created a modest memorial: a metal plaque that was perhaps once part of a Centurion tank was inscribed with the names of platoon members who fell in the Yom Kippur War. As time passed, more elements were added.
Today, the memorial comprises a plaza dominated by a large central concrete structure whose shape is reminiscent of that of an armored personnel carrier (APC), and on top of this structure stands an APC that was damaged in one of the platoon’s battles in the area. Beside it is the original plaque from the earliest form of the memorial, and beside it is another plaque in the same style that records for posterity the names of platoon soldiers who fell in other circumstances. A pillar at the site contains an audio device that relates the story of the battle that took place nearby, and includes recordings of exchanges over the brigade’s walkie-talkie system. KKL-JNF has planted a grove of trees beside the memorial, which it has recently renovated, and has transformed the recreation area adjacent to it into an overnight campsite with surfaces suitable for pitching tents. The recreation area is now used for overnight camping by hikers along the Golan Trail and other visitors to the area.
Our route makes its way across level ground for about two kilometers, with Mount Odem always directly in front of us as we walk along. The climb from the foot of the hill is fairly steep, and the cumulative altitude gain is about 80 meters. En route we pass by a deep quarry that burrows about twenty meters into the flank of the hill.
Scoria, a type of volcanic rock used for growing plants and other purposes, was extracted from the quarry. This rock, which is multi colored, may be yellowish red, black, gray, violet or brown. From here it is just a short distance to the top of Mount Odem, whose Hebrew name is a direct translation of its Arabic one, which is Tel al-Ahmar. Both mean, more or less, “Red Hill.” And, indeed, on a clear sunny day the slopes of the hill glitter with a characteristic and unmistakable shade of reddish violet.
Mount Odem is just a single link in a whole long chain of parallel hills that form a double rank of cones of volcanic ash. This chain of volcanic hills, which includes Mount Avital and Mount Baron, is composed of shattered solid matter discharged during volcanic eruptions, which accumulated around the active crater. These cones consist mainly of scoria, which is made up of porous particles whose size varies from several millimeters to several dozen centimeters.
The double-peaked summit of the hill provides a wonderful view. To the west we can see the Hula valley, the Lebanon Valley and the hills of Upper Galilee, while from other points on the hilltop we have a clear view of Mount Hermon and the expanses of the Golan Heights.