|Mount Hermon ski resort|
View of the ski-resort and the cable cars
|Nearest city||Majdal Shams|
|Top elevation||2,040 metres (6,690 ft)|
|Base elevation||1,600 metres (5,200 ft)|
The Mount Hermon ski resort (Hebrew: ) is situated on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Hermon, a few kilometers off the Purple line, in the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. The site is surrounded by the Hermon nature reserve. While the nature reserve is open year-round, the ski resort is open only at the peak of winter (usually January-March), when enough snow is accumulated on its ground. It has a top elevation of 2,040 metres (6,690 ft), going down to 1600 metres, with an area covering about 2434 dunams.
The Hermon site is linked to Judeo-Christian traditions. In the Bible, it is referred to as Ba'al Hermon, Sion, Sirion and Senir. According to the Gospels, Caesarea Philippi is located at its base, and the mountain is believed by some to be the site of the Transfiguration.
The first lift was installed in 1971, largely with assistance from the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the resort first opened to skiers in December 1971. The next considerable expansion came in 1981 when the region fell under Golan Heights law, which allowed for easier expansion. Additional lifts were added gradually during the next 20 years. Since 1981, the Golan Heights have been governed under Golan Heights Law, and during this period the resort has expanded considerably. The resort includes a wide range of ski trails for novice, intermediate, and expert levels. It also offers additional winter family activities such as sledding and Nordic skiing. The resort is unusual in not having been built by a town, and there is still no town at the resort, so those who operate the Hermon Ski area live in the nearby Moshav of Neve Ativ and the town of Majdal Shams. The ski resort has a ski school, ski patrol, and several restaurants located at either the bottom or peak of the area. The base of the resort is at 1,640 m (5,380 ft), and it peaks at 2,073 m (6,801 ft). The resort has 7 red pistes, 3 blue pistes, 2 black pistes and one green piste. The resort also has several facilities for summer visitors. As the highest point in Israeli controlled areas overlooking Syria and Lebanon it is also in a very strategically important position for the IDF. In peak season more than 12,000 people can be on the mountain each day. The resort has also added a snowpark.
The resort provides an important source of income to residents of both Neve Ativ and Majdal Shams. In the 2000s the resort started suffering from the effects of global warming,[dubious ] having had previously two to three months of good snow every winter going down to only two to four weeks (In 1999, for the first time in its history, the resort had no sufficient snow at all for skiing).
Ownership of the resort is controversial. The resort is operated and held by 32 families of Neve Ativ. The families have no property rights in the land and they have not paid the Israel Land Administration for its use in over a decade.SPNI accused resort operators for charging illegal fees. In 2010 the Movement for Quality Government in Israel appealed to the Supreme Court of Israel against the Israel Land Administration. In the appeal Neve Ativ was accused of holding the area of the resort without any valid contract, violating the public's interest and the Israel Land Administration law.
In February 2004 a 24-year-old woman was killed and four others were injured in a snowcat accident. The vehicle was not intended for carrying passengers. The driver was arrested and his lawyer claimed that he was only following the orders of his superiors. In 2008 the Nazareth court sentenced the resort manager, Menahem Baruch, along with three other resort workers, to a suspended six-month jail sentence and a 5000 Israeli new shekel penalty payment. The family of the deceased woman complained that the sentence was not severe enough.
In 2004 police arrested four senior workers at the resort for allegedly ordering the arson of a competing snow equipment rental business in Majdal Shams. According to allegations the four offered two fellow resort workers a sum of 40 thousand Israeli new shekels each for setting fire to the competing business. Additionally resort workers allegedly harassed visitors who rented equipment from the rival shop.