Rivers contribute to the regulation of floodwater and to water purification, maintain unique biological diversity and serve as desirable holiday and leisure areas between and within cities. Clean rivers provide essential ecological services that benefit both humans and nature. Despite their significance for human welfare, rivers around the world have been significantly degraded by human development. Israel's extended water crisis has led to its rivers being severely damaged - springs were dried, water was polluted and many plant and animal species that are unique to rivers and wetland habitats have disappeared or are currently endangered.
The Israeli water sector is currently undergoing a fundamental change. The establishment of facilities capable of desalinating large quantities of sea water provides a solution to the national water crisis and may allow the rehabilitation of our natural water sources. This opens a window of opportunity to rehabilitate Israel's rivers by restoring the flow of spring water in rivers that have been compromised - for the benefit of nature as well as the welfare of humans.
The three rivers featured on the stamps represent the impressive diversity of Israel's water landscapes. Kziv River represents the mountainous rivers, characterized by dense Mediterranean woodlands and clear spring water; Taninim River represents the broad rivers of the coastal plain, which flow slowly through the agricultural plains and valleys; and Zin River represents the impressive desert rivers, whose landscapes were formed by the forces of winter floods, and the desert springs and hidden cisterns that lie in the depths of the ravines and serve as an essential water source for the wildlife and humans that inhabit the desert.
Kziv River is one of the most beautiful rivers in Northern Israel, and the largest of the mountain rivers which lie to the west of the national watershed line. This river flows from Meron Mountain in the Galilee downward to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Numerous gristmills operated along the river until 1948, attesting to the large quantities of spring-water that used to flow here. The magnificent Monfort Fort, built by the Crusaders, overlooks the river basin.
Taninim River is the only one of Israel's coastal rivers that has remained unpolluted and whose water is still relatively clean, from its springs to the sea. The Taninim River Nature Reserve preserves remnants of swamps and wetlands that characterized Israel's coastal plain in the past, as
well as the impressive ancient Roman waterworks that took advantage of the water's force to transport river water through aqueducts to the city of Caesarea.
Zin River is one of the largest ephemeral rivers in the Negev Desert. The river basin sprawls from the high, windy plains that lie north of the Ramon Crater down to the Dead Sea. The Ein Avdat oasis contains a spring concealed within the canyon. The spring water creates a small, permanent flow of water in the huge dry watershed - a water source that is essential to the survival of the desert plants and wildlife.
Dr. Orit Skutelsky
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel