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Because of the war: The legendary café on Mount Bental closes its doors forever

Almost every tourist to Israel has visited the famous mountain on the Golan Heights

Coffee Anan (Photo: Shutterstock)

The famous café "Coffee Anan" – a humorous play on words combining "Kofi Annan," the former UN secretary general, with "coffee" and "anan," meaning cloud in Hebrew – announced that it is shutting its doors due to Israel's ongoing war.

This establishment was operated by Kibbutz Merom Golan on Mount Bental in northern Israel, offering a beautiful and strategic viewpoint from the Israeli side, overlooking the Syrian border.

The Kibbutz Merom Golan, viewed from the top of Mount Bental, in 2018 (Photo: Aaron Goel-Angot).

The whole area of the mountain was declared a closed military zone on Oct. 7 due to the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group, which has resulted in rockets and missiles being launched at Israel by Hezbollah from sites in Lebanon and Syria.

Despite the residents not being evacuated like the areas close to the Lebanese borders, the Golan Heights was the target of several rocket attacks launched by Hezbollah forces.

The director-general of tourism at Kibbutz Marom Golan said that the war served as the final blow to tourism in the region.

"The war delivered the final blow." Tourism had already been deeply affected by COVID-19 during the previous years, but this war has destroyed many additional tourism-related businesses in Israel.

The top of Mount Bental with the touristic historical display, in 2018 (Photo: Aaron Goel-Angot)

While there is general concern about the Israeli economy, tourism has been impacted in particular, since the number of tourists visiting Israel since October 2023 has almost dropped considerably.

In the past, many tourists visiting the Holy Land would likely have ascended Mount Bental to enjoy its stunning viewpoint, as well as the charming coffee shop at its peak.

The people of Merom Golan and many Israeli locals consider the current war situation a disaster and a shame since the coffee shop was a legendary spot in Israeli tourism but also a popular spot for weekend outings and school trips.

The Mount Bental viewpoint is also well known for its history during the great Israeli wars that occurred in the vicinity, like the Six-Day War of 1967 or the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. The former volcano cone and its neighboring mounts, like its “sibling” Mount Avital, have strategic importance and still serve as major fortresses in Israel’s border defense, as proven by the many IDF posts in the area.

The Mount Avital, viewed from the Mount Bental, in 2018 (Photo: Aaron Goel-Angot)

The view from Mount Bental to the east reveals the border with Syria, with the well-known ghost town of Quneitra close by. Mount Hermon can be seen in all its beauty from the same spot, and the road leading directly to Syria's capital Damascus is well visible.

Mount Bental is part of a line of volcanic hills and mountains that split the geological plateau of the Golan Heights into two parts from north to south, but is also far enough from the shores of the Sea of Galilee, providing a good defense line for Israel. When conquering the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, Israeli forces did not penetrate further and stopped at this strategic line, enabling a better defense against the constant threat from Syria from 1948 till today.

The Syrian part of the Golan Heights, to the East, with the border and the ghost town of Quneitra, viewed from the Mount Bental, in 2018 (Photo: Aaron Goel-Angot)

The Israeli Golan Heights have been annexed by Israel since the 1980s, a decision that has yet to be recognized under international law. However, the United States was the first to recognize it officially in 2019 under the administration of former President Donald Trump.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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