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Hula Valley

The Hula Valley is an agricultural region in northern Israel with abundant fresh water, which used to be Lake Hula, prior to its draining. It is a major stopover for birds migrating along the Syrian-African Rift Valley between Africa, Europe, and Asia. Lake Hula and the marshland surrounding it were a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria, and so were drained in the 1950s. A small section of the valley was later re-flooded in an attempt to revive a nearly extinct ecosystem. An estimated 500 million migrating birds now pass through the Hula Valley every year.

Hula Lake Park, known in Hebrew as Agmon HaHula, is located in the southern part of the Hula Valley, north of the nature reserve and distinct from it. It was established as part of a JNF rehabilitation project. In the early 1990s part of the valley was flooded again in the wake of heavy rains. It was decided to develop the surrounding area and leave the flooded area intact. The new site has become the second home for thousands of migrating birds in the autumn and spring. The lake covers an area of one square kilometer, interspersed with islands that serve as protected bird nesting sites. It has become a major stopover for migrating birds flying from Europe to Africa and back, and also a major bird watching site. In 2011, Israeli ornithologists confirmed that Lake Hula is the stopover point for tens of thousands of cranes migrating from Finland to Ethiopia every winter. In Israel, farmers set out food for them to keep them from damaging crops near the lake.

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