Towards the northern part of the Golan there are two quite dramatic hills – not incredibly high but very prominent and standing out in the terrain. Mount Avital is closed to the public, but Mount Bental is accessible.
The site of one of the most dramatic battles in Israel’s history
Mount Bental is one the favorite peaks for most Israeli tourists and hikers, in large part due to beautiful panoramic views of the Golan, and also Syria. But there’s one more (and perhaps another more important) reason — Mount Bental was also the site of one of the battles during the Yom Kippur War (also called Ramadan War) in 1973. It is one of the largest tank battles in the country’s history. Mount Bental was a key strategic point for Israel because of its observation point, which proved to be advantageous.
Israel knew it too well that it could not risk losing Mount Bental, as well as the rest of the Golan Heights. Their opponents, the Syrians, attacked the Golan with over 1,000 tanks and over 1,500 artillery pieces, as opposed to Israel’s paltry 160 tanks and 60 artillery pieces. The incredible and dramatic battle scenes took place in the Valley of Tears — a long stretch of valley lying between Mount Bental and Mount Hermon. The number of tanks on Israel’s side were now reduced to only seven under extreme enemy fire. But against all odds, the Israelis managed to defeat the Syrians, taking down 600 enemy tanks in the process. The Syrians eventually retreated, but not without delivering heavy blows to the Israelis, who suffered great numbers of casualties.
Going to Mount Bental
Drive up the steep access road and then complete the last few meters on foot. You can explore the old trenches and fortifications, look down on Syria – only a few kilometers to Damascus (and considerably closer than Jerusalem). Get a cup of coffee at the small cafe with the interesting name (“Coffee in the Clouds” or in Hebrew, Coffee Anan — yes, it is also named after the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan).
Bental is located near the Valley of Tears. You can look down from here on the deserted Syrian town of Qunaitra in no man’s land, or drive amongst the orchards and visit some of the memorials and imagine what is was like almost 40 years ago – in one of the most dramatic battles in the history of Israel.
Children will enjoy clambering over the fortifications, whilst adults will prefer the views and the history. There is wheelchair access to some of the viewing areas.
The air here is great and you can see for miles. The view is dominated by the snow capped Mount Hermon, but you can see most of the northern Golan.
In the car park you will often find a friendly Druze man selling local seasonal produce (cherries, apples, olive oil, honey). The last time we were there he was called Farchani. He was a great guy to chat with, but as a rule, the Druze do not like to be photographed.
Getting To Bental
At Bental Junction (off road 959) take the road south past Merom Golan and then turn up the access road to Bental.