On our 14th, and second to last day touring Israel virtually, we will be at Mount Ben Tal on the Golan Heights over looking Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria.
From the western Golan, it is only about 60 miles -- without major terrain obstacles -- to Haifa and Acre, Israel's industrial heartland. The Golan - rising from 400 to 1700 feet in the western section - overlooks the Hulah Valley, Israel's richest agricultural area. In the hands of a friendly neighbor, the escarpment has little military importance. If controlled by a hostile country, however, the Golan has the potential to again become a strategic nightmare for Israel. From 1948-67, when Syria controlled the Golan Heights, it used the area as a military stronghold from which its troops randomly sniped at Israeli civilians in the Hulah Valley below.
After the Six-Day War began, the Syrian air force attempted to bomb oil refineries in Haifa. While Israel was fighting in the Sinai and West Bank, Syrian artillery bombarded Israeli forces in the eastern Galilee, and armored units fired on villages in the Hulah Valley below the Golan Heights.
On June 9, 1967, Israel moved against Syrian forces on the Golan. By late afternoon, June 10, Israel was in complete control of the plateau.
On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to annex the Golan Heights. The statute extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967.
Mount Bental can be found in the middle of the Golan Heights, towards the Syrian border. Mount Bental is one of Israel’s favorite mountain peaks to visit, partly due to the great panoramic views of the Golan and even Syria, but also because Mount Bental was the site of a courageous battle fought during Israel's Yom Kippur War in 1973. It was one of the largest tank battles ever and was miraculously won by the Israelis.