Going on a trip to the Horns of Hattin forces you to think about history.
I was reading about the historic battle, back in the hot summer of 1187, when the Arab forces, led by their Kurd commander, Salah ad-Din Al-Ayubi, defeated the armies of the Crusader “Kingdom of Jerusalem”. No doubt, one condition for the victory was the ability of Salah ad-Din to unite the Arab and gather armies from Egypt, Syria and Trans-Jordan, to confront together the European invaders that were already entrenched in Palestine for 88 years. But, from another viewpoint, Salah ad-Din was actually in truce with the crusaders’ king Guy of Lusignan. Only attacks by loose extremist settlers, led by
“Raymond of Tripoli”, against Muslim pilgrims and their threat to attack Mecca led Salah ad-Din to call for Jihad and gather his forces for the decisive battle.
Our first stop on the route has even deeper historical roots. It is the remains of the Arab village of Hittin that was inhabited and known by this name already in the 3rd century BC. It was the Zionist Ethnic Cleansing of 1948 that uprooted this village after more than 2200 years. Now only the mosque and some half-destroyed structures are still standing to testify of what was a village of 1380 people.
After a long walk up the mountain, much of it is closed by all kind of fences for archeological, industrial and probably military areas, we turned to climb the southern “horn” from the main tourist route on its south. We try to read the official sign, planted there by the park’s authority… It is speaking about the geological history of the volcanic mountain, which was throwing hot lava some …. years ago… Well, someone deliberately scratched the numbers out. We turned to the English text, but it was scratched out also. Only with great effort we succeeded to make sense of what was left of the
writing: 4.3 million years ago. Apparently somebody decided that this writing was hereditary and tried to save our innocent souls from reading it.
In the internet site where we read about the route, we were told that we will meet a Christian Memorial next, on our way up the mountain. We were lucky to have the chance to read it before we came there – as when we reached the black stone it was all scribbled over and we couldn’t figure out anything of the holy writings that were there once.
A Bedouin Arab couple that we met just near the memorial told us that it was a holy sign brought from the Vatican. They shared our condemnation of this new expression of the desecration of Muslim and Christian holy places by extremist Jewish settlers at the name of religion… They even let their small girl be photographed with the desecrated stone. Being a resident of the area, this young girl may represent the future of Hittin, which is still torn by invaders and religious extremists, but will inevitably return to its people.
(Coming back home, we discovered a video describing the erection of the memorial, not so long ago, in the autumn of 2014. No, it was not coming from the Vatican, but from “TheChurchOfGod.org”. We also discovered that the news about its desecration was already published in the Arab press on December 1, 2015. So it is not hot news, just business as usual in occupied Palestine).