Hasbani River

Hasbani River
Nuphar lutea in Snir Stream Nature Reserve, Israel

The Hasbani River (Arabic: الحاصباني / ALA-LC: al-Ḥāṣbānī; ) or Snir Stream (Hebrew: נחל שניר / Nahal Snir), is the major tributary of the Jordan River. The Hasbani River derives most of its discharge from two springs in Lebanon,[1][2] the Wazzani and the Haqzbieh, the latter being a group of springs on the uppermost Hasbani.[3] The Hasbani runs for 25 miles 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.[4] For about four kilometers 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.[5] About 20% of the Hasbani flow[6] emerges from the Wazzani Spring at Ghajar, close to the Lebanese Israeli border, about 3 kilometers 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 river, in either Lebanon or Israel.[7]

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.[8][9] The Hasbani was included in the Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan, proposed in 1955 by special US envoy Eric Johnston.[10] Under the plan, Lebanon was allocated usage of 35 million mcm annually from it. The plan was rejected by the Arab League. 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[11] 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.[11][12] This led to military intervention from Israel, first with tank fire and then, as the Syrians shifted the works further eastward, with airstrikes.

In 2001 the Lebanese government installed a small pumping station with a 10 cm bore to extract water to supply Ghajar village.[13] 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, during the Second Lebanon War the pumping station was destroyed by the Israeli army.[14][15][16][17]


  1. FAO (Water Resources section)
    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.
  2. UNU The Jordan River
    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.
  3. UNU The Jordan River
  4. MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters
  5. Managing water for peace in the Middle East
  6. Lebanon (FAOWater Resources section)
    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.
  7. MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters
    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.
  8. MERIP Heightened Israeli-Lebanese Tensions Over Jordan's Headwaters
  9. Harik, Judith Palmer (2005) Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1-84511-024-2 p 159
  10. Cronin, Patrick M. (2008) The Evolution of Strategic Thought Routledge, ISBN 0-415-45961-3 p 189
  11. 1 2 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.
  12. 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
  13. LA Times Over Israeli Objections, Lebanon Opens Pumping Station on River March 29, 2001
  14. BBC 28 March 2002. Lebanon hails 'liberation of water'
  15. BBC 10 September 2002 Israel warns of war over water
  16. BBC 16 September 2002. US wades into Mid-East water dispute
  17. BBC 17 September 2002. Israel hardens stance on water.
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Coordinates: 33°14′17.37″N 35°37′28.66″E / 33.2381583°N 35.6246278°E / 33.2381583; 35.6246278

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