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Israeli cowboys live frontier life on Syria’s doorstep


With his wide-brimmed hat, Wrangler jeans and ornate belt buckle, Yehiel Alon could easily pass for one of the Montana ranchers he once worked with. But the 53-year-old is an Israeli cowboy on the Golan Heights bordering worn-torn Syria, where frontier life takes on a whole new meaning.

“It’s probably the only place on earth where you will see cows alongside tanks,” he says with a smile, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

Herding cattle in these parts is no job for greenhorns. Alon has got to keep them from stepping on decades-old land mines, wandering into military bases or being shot in nearby firing ranges.

The tranquility of country life contrasts sharply with Middle East tensions all around. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently drew renewed attention to the Golan Heights by vowing to forever hold the land Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war and from which an Israeli withdrawal was once considered key to regional peace.

That same week, Alon and three other cowboys on horseback rounded up some 650 head of cattle during a major Israeli military drill, in which helicopters hovered


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