Rujam-a-Naka, an abandoned Jordanian fort in the Judean Desert

Rujam-a-Naka, an abandoned Jordanian fort in the Judean Desert

On this trip, the car had a hard time, probably the car god would not forgive us for driving in the desert, where there is no asphalt, where bumpy primers rolled in quad bikes and jeeps diverge in all directions. As soon as I returned from Iraq, I had not yet disassembled the backpack, like a good friend endowed with a state-owned car from a certain large corporation, offered to jerk to where we would not meet crowds of tourists. I was entrusted with the task of finding a place that can responsibly be called “original.” It is always easy and fun!

We decided to go to the Palestinian territories in the direction of perhaps the most inaccessible Israeli fort – Rujam-a-Naka. This is a long-abandoned Jordanian police station, located in the middle of a lifeless desert near the Dead Sea. The path to it leads bypassing several Palestinian villages, then kilometers 20 loops on very dangerous serpentines and a bad road, then the disappearance of any asphalt. The final stage is about 6 kilometers along a dirt road with pits and rubble flying out from under the wheels. And here we are.

The history of the fort is not as brilliant as it may seem. Not everything in the Holy Land is so eternal and ancient. This fort was built in 1951 by the Jordanian army to control the nearby Palestinian villages and pacify the local Bedouin of the Rashidiyah tribe. It is likely that the guilty soldiers were sent to this place, for the already distant and dreary place was this Rujam-a-Naka, from which there was a bare desert for dozens of kilometers in all directions. In 1966, the Israeli paratroopers in response to a raid by Palestinian partisans on the Israeli border, attacked the fort, firing at it with anti-tank grenade launchers and throwing grenades over the top. However, the goal was not to capture the fort, and the Israelis left the area, leaving a third of Jordanian soldiers killed and wounded at the fort.

In June 1967, during the Six Day War, the Israeli army captured the West Bank, including this fort. The Jordanians retreated on the territory of their country, across the Jordan River. New tenants moved into the fort – Israeli soldiers who were stationed here until the end of the 1990s, when the fort lost its strategic value and was abandoned by the military.