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Mount Bental and Mount Avital - Volcanic Partners

Volcanic action has shaped much of the landscape of the Golan Heights. From the top of Mount Bental, which is adjacent to Mount Avital, you will be able to appreciate the influence of volcanic activity on the topography of this part of the Upper Golan, view Mount Hermon and the Syrian border, and understand the trauma of the Yom Kippur War.



Directions: Put into Waze “Mount Bental” and click on “Mount Betal/Tal Al-Gharam.” Drive up the mountain (it is not unduly steep) until you come to the parking lot.  

Admission: There is no admission charge.

Public transport: There is no close bus line. However, there is a bus between Katzrin and Kibbutz Meron Golan, and from here it is possible to walk up to the top of the mountain.

Mount Avital.jpeg

Why do Mount Betal and Mount Avital look so odd?


From as far away as the Hula Valley one can see the humps of a chain of dormant volcanos arising from the plain of the Golan Heights. There are 70 located along the eastern border of the Golan Heights adjacent to Israel’s border with Syria, from Mount Ram in the north to Mount Saki in the south. They provide a useful defense barrier against Syria, although they were unable to prevent Syrian forces from penetrating the central Golan during the Yom Kippur War. However, they were unable to advance in the area of these two mountains.

Walking along the top of Mount Bental, you are on top of a former volcano. On your right looking towards Syria is the top of the volcano of Mount Avital and below this is the collapsed crater of Mount Avital containing vineyards of Kibbutz El Rom. The inside of craters is a favored site for planting vineyards, in that vines grow extremely well because of the mineral richness of the soil. On your left, Kibbutz Meron Golan is in the collapsed crater of Mount Betal.


How did all this happen?  Geologically, the Golan plain forms what is called a cyncline (folds in which each half of the fold dips toward the trough of the fold) between the Mount Hermon incline in the north and the Gilead incline in the south, and there is a basin of sedimentary rock between them. Beneath this basin of sedentary rock were pockets of magna which penetrated the dozens of kilometers of sedimentary rock to form volcanoes. The magna that erupted formed viscous larva over the sedimentary rock and hardened as basalt rock. This dark basaltic rock is the typical rock of the Golan Heights. (Mount Hermon did not have this covering of basalt and is formed entirely of sedimentary limestone.


Volcanic activity first started in the Golan Heights about 1 million years ago. Mount Avital experienced the most recent volcanic activity of these volcanic peaks, some 100,000 years ago, which in geological terms is quite recent. Both mountains are from the same magna source, which was only able to come to the earth’s surface by blowing off the western sides of these two volcanic mountains.  



  • As you drive along the access road, you will see on the side of the road statues made of junk metal. They were created by the Dutch artist Joop de Jong, a member of close-by Kibbutz Meron Golan. His workshop is in the kibbutz. In front of you is the cafe Coffee Anan (literally Coffee in the Clouds), so called because this mountain is usually covered in a cloud during winter and spring mornings. The name is also a pun on the former UN Security Council President Kofi Anan.

  • There are two observation points with recordings in Hebrew or English:

The observation point on your right (as you face towards Syria) provides views of Mount Avital. From here you can see white buildings in the distance. They are on the Syrian border and belong to the United Nations. Beyond the Syrian border is the deserted town of Quneitra. This town was returned to Syria after the Yom Kippur War as part of negotiations between the two countries but was never repopulated. The fields in the Quneitra Valley up to the border are Israeli. The border between Israel and Syria has been the quietest of Israel’s borders since the Six-Day War, although there are now concerns about the military activities of the Hezbollah movement, a protégé of Iran. The 10 wind turbines provide electricity to about 10,000 inhabitants of the Golan Heights. There are also newer wind turbines closer to Mount Bental.

The other observation point and recording is just beyond the wooden balcony of the café. You are now overlooking Kibbutz Meron Golan. This kibbutz was the first settlement built on the Golan Heights after the Six-Day-War. It was initially established in the center of the Golan, and then moved to the outskirts of Quneitra. It moved again to its present location west of Mount Bental in 1972, the thought being that the mountain would provide protection from shelling. The kibbutz has been privatized. The recording explains about the beginnings of this kibbutz, the orchards up to the border, and the Valley of Tears. 

  • Walk up to the bunkers. They were placed here some years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War on previous Syrian fortifications. The position was manned for about a decade, but then abandoned.  In the 1900s the site was prepared for visitors by Kibbutz Meron Golan and the Jewish National Fund. A room within the bunkers presents visually the story of the battle that took place in this area during the Yom Kippur War.

During the Yom Kippur War, Syria attacked the Golan Heights with some 1,000 tanks and 1.500 artillery pieces. Syrian forces managed to penetrate Israel's border in the central Golan in the area of Tel Saki (see Tel Saki and the Yom Kippur War). In the northern Golan, their advance was held up by the Israelis with only 160 tanks. The Syrians eventually fled, but it was a costly battle for both sides and by its end only 7 Israeli tanks remained operational. From the bottom of this mountain to Mount Hermon was named the Valley of Tears to commemorate the bloody conflict that took place here.


Mount Hermon is in the distance. Between it and Mount Betal is the Valley of Tears, so-called because of the many casualties during the Yom Kippur War.


This model of a boat is made out of scrap metal by the Dutch artist Joop de Jong from Kibbutz Meron Golan.

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