Hasbani River

The Hasbani River (Arabic: الحاصباني / ALA-LC: al-Ḥāṣbānī; Hebrew: חצבני Ḥatzbaní) or Snir Stream (Hebrew: נחל שניר / Nahal Sənir), is the major tributary of the Jordan River. Local natives in the mid-19th century knew the river as the Upper Jordan.[1]

Hasbani River

The Hasbani River derives most of its discharge from two springs in Lebanon,[2][3] the Wazzani and the Haqzbieh, the latter being a group of springs on the uppermost Hasbani.[4] The Hasbani runs for 25 mi (40 km) in Lebanon before crossing the border at Ghajar and shortly after joining with the Banias and Dan Rivers at a point in northern Israel, to form the River Jordan.[5] For about 4 km (2.5 mi) downstream of Ghajar, the Hasbani forms the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

The Wazzani's and the Haqzbieh's combined discharge averages 138 million m³ per year.[6] About 20% of the Hasbani flow[7] emerges from the Wazzani Spring at Ghajar, close to the Lebanese-Golan Heights border, about 3 km (1.9 mi) west of the base of Mount Hermon. The contribution of the Wazzani spring is very important, since this is the only continuous year-round flow into the Hasbani, in either Lebanon or Israel.[8]

In modern historyEdit

Bridge over Hasbani River 1920

The Hasbani was included in the Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, proposed in 1955 by special US envoy Eric Johnston.[9] Under the plan, Lebanon was allocated usage of 35 million mcm annually from it. The plan was rejected by the Arab League.[citation needed] Instead, at the 2nd Arab summit conference in Cairo of January 1964 the League decided that Syria, Lebanon and Jordan would begin a water diversion project. Syria started the construction of canal to divert the flow of the Banias river away from Israel and along the slopes of the Golan toward the Yarmouk River. Lebanon was to construct a canal from the Hasbani River to Banias and complete the scheme.[10] The project was to divert 20 to 30 million cubic metres of water from the river Jordan tributaries to Syria and Jordan for the development of Syria and Jordan.[10][11] This led to military intervention from Israel, first with tank and artillery fire and then, as the Syrians shifted the works further eastward, with airstrikes.[12]

Utilization of water resources in the area, including the Hasbani, has been a source of conflict and was one of the factors leading to the 1967 Six-Day War.[13][14]

In 2001, the Lebanese government installed a small pumping station with a 10 cm bore to extract water to supply Ghajar village.[15] In March 2002 Lebanon also diverted part of the Hasbani to supply Wazzani village. An action that Ariel Sharon said was a "casus belli" and could lead to war.[16][17][18][19]

The Mekorot Water Company Ltd. of Israel has permitted recreational activity (kayaking) on a stretch of the Hasbani in the north.


  1. ^ Velde, van de, C.W.M. (1854). Narrative of a journey through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852. Vol. 1. William Blackwood and son. p. 168.
  2. ^ FAO (Water Resources section) "AQUASTAT - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture". Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2011-04-26. "Overall, there are about 40 major streams in Lebanon and, based on the hydrographic system, the country can be divided into five regions: ... [including] the Hasbani river basin in the south-east."
  3. ^ UNU The Jordan River [1] "The Dan spring, the largest of the sources of the upper Jordan, lies wholly within Israel close to the border with Syria. The spring sources of the Hasbani River lie entirely within Lebanon. The spring source of the Banias River is in Syria. These three small streams unite 6 km inside Israel at about 70 m above sea level to form the upper Jordan River."
  4. ^ UNU The Jordan River [2]
  5. ^ MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters [3]
  6. ^ Managing water for peace in the Middle East
  7. ^ Lebanon (FAOWater Resources section)"AQUASTAT - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture". Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2011-04-26. "Lebanon being at a higher elevation than its neighbours has practically no incoming surface water flow…. Surface water flow to Israel is estimated at 160 million m³/year, of which about 138 million m³ through the Hasbani river including a contribution of 30 million m³ from its tributary, the Wazzani spring."
  8. ^ MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters [4] "In the hot summer months, the Wazzani springs are the only source of flowing water in the Hasbani. Upstream from the Wazzani, the river is dry."
  9. ^ Cronin, Patrick M. (2008) The Evolution of Strategic Thought Routledge, ISBN 0-415-45961-3 p 189
  10. ^ a b Shlaim, Avi (200) ibid pp 229–230 In January 1964 an Arab League summit meeting convened in Cairo. The main item on the agenda was the threat posed by Israel's diversion of water from the north to irrigate the south and the expected reduction in the water supplies available to Syria and Jordan. The reaction of the summit to this threat was deadly serious. The preamble to its decision stated,
    The establishment of Israel is the basic threat that the Arab nation in its entirety has agreed to forestall. And Since the existence of Israel is a danger that threatens the Arab nation, the diversion of the Jordan waters by it multiplies the dangers to Arab existence. Accordingly, the Arab states have to prepare the plans necessary for dealing with the political, economic and social aspects, so that if necessary results are not achieved, collective Arab military preparations, when they are not completed, will constitute the ultimate practical means for the final liquidation of Israel.
  11. ^ Political Thought and Political History: Studies in Memory of Elie Kedourie By Elie Kedourie, M. Gammer, Joseph Kostiner, Moshe Shemesh, Routledge, (2003) ISBN 0-7146-5296-2 p 165
  12. ^ Maoz, Zeev (2006). Defending the Holy Land. University of Michigan Press. pp. 101–102. ISBN 0472115405.
  13. ^ MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters [5]
  14. ^ Harik, Judith Palmer (2005) Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1-84511-024-2 p 159
  15. ^ LA Times Over Israeli Objections, Lebanon Opens Pumping Station on River March 29, 2001
  16. ^ BBC 28 March 2002. Lebanon hails 'liberation of water'
  17. ^ BBC 10 September 2002 Israel warns of war over water
  18. ^ BBC 16 September 2002. US wades into Mid-East water dispute
  19. ^ BBC 17 September 2002. Israel hardens stance on water.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 33°14′17.37″N 35°37′28.66″E / 33.2381583°N 35.6246278°E / 33.2381583; 35.6246278