Keepers of the Dead Sea

Every day, IDF soldiers rigorously scout the Dead Sea area, defending Israel’s border with Jordan from weapon smuggling. While acting as a frontier and an international health resort, the Dead Sea is a unique site, and ensuring its security poses great challenges to the IDF. Despite it being a peaceful border, there have been several attempts to smuggle illegal weapons through the Dead Sea to the Judea and Samaria region. The most recent, in July 2011, led to the interception of a boat loaded with M16 riffles. Male and female scouts operate the advanced technology systems used to secure the border. Their work is best done behind the scenes. They watch discreetly and out of sight so as to avoid disrupting the calm enjoyed by visitors of the beaches and hotels on the shores.

Cpl. Iris Morales: "While people sit on the beaches, they are in front of the frontier with Jordan"

Cpl. Iris Morales: "While people sit on the beaches, they are in front of the frontier with Jordan"

The Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth, has been a source of healing and wealth for the land’s inhabitants for thousands of years. It presents a unique natural solution of salts and minerals, which does not allow for wildlife to develop and sustain like in other seas.

“While people sit on the beaches, they are in front of the frontier with Jordan! Yet, you barely notice the military presence in this area.” Cpl. Iris Morales said, “At every other border of the country you’d feel a bit threatened – except for this one. The invisibility of our forces contributes to the sense of security for the tourists as well as the local residents”. And indeed, the Dead Sea has become an international research site for marine biologists and international investors, flocked by tourists from around the world.

A patrol vehicle securing the border with Jordan

A patrol vehicle securing the border with Jordan

“I’ve lived near the Dead Sea all my life” she added, “My familiarity with the land helps me keep its serenity.”

The Dead Sea had been in the running to become one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature. Although it didn’t enter the exclusive list revealed last Friday, this remarkable site holds a special place in the heart of most Israelis. The tourists will keep coming; the Israelis will keep bathing;  and the IDF will keep watching over all those that love this unique natural wonder.

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