When the locals from Kibbutz Merom Golan heard that Haaretz photographer Gil Eliyahu was about to come take pictures of bathers immersing themselves in the Bental reservoir at the foot of the dormant Mount Bental volcano in the northeastern Golan Heights, they were angry. After all, none of them wanted the area's most carefully guarded secret revealed to the public.
"Now the whole world will come here!" someone complained to him. In the midst of the Carmel winter storm, when most Israelis who are not accustomed to the wintery weather are shielding themselves from the low temperatures and strong winds, the locals nearby are enjoying a natural Jacuzzi.
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The natural reservoir is fed by a pipe of extremely hot ground water alongside a pipe of cold water used by the farmers in the region. The source of the water is the Shamir Drilling Project, near Kibbutz Shamir in the Hula Valley, which exposed a subterranean hydrothermal spring. It can even reach a temperature of 40 degrees Celcisus (104 degrees Fahrenheit), and turn the Israeli winter into an unusually pleasant experience.