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More Blitz than Ritz for beef dumplings (and Hezbollah missiles) at ‘the world’s most dangerous restaurant’


Lunch at Ora Hatan’s farmhouse restaurant is a perilous affair. The food is good, no question – tasty salads, stuffed vegetables and a signature dish of beef dumplings in a beetroot broth.

But though its veranda affords soothing views of the hillside below and Ora is a perfect host, exuding warmth and good humour, the restaurant scores rock bottom on ambience.

It’s hard to fully relax when there is every chance an anti-tank missile will whizz into the dining room at any moment. Here, jittery customers hit the deck at the mild clatter of a dropped fork.

Welcome to Shtula, a village in northern Israel that shares a green valley with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group.

From Ora’s house, Israel’s border with Lebanon is only 300 ft away. Beyond it, she occasionally sees Hezbollah fighters ‘gathering intelligence’ while pretending to herd sheep. ‘Yes,’ she shrugs. ‘I see them.’

Lunch at Ora's farmhouse restaurant is a perilous affair. The food is good, no question – tasty salads, stuffed vegetables and a signature dish of beef dumplings in a beetroot broth

Lunch at Ora’s farmhouse restaurant is a perilous affair. The food is good, no question – tasty salads, stuffed vegetables and a signature dish of beef dumplings in a beetroot broth

And they see her.

From her sunlit balcony, Ora, 60, points out the Shia militia’s observation tower near a rocky ridge. ‘Let’s take our tea inside,’ she breezes. ‘It’s not good to linger here too long.’

Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, have been engaged in near-daily cross-border strikes since the October 7 attacks on Israel. Thousands living along the border were forced to evacuate their homes, including all Shtula’s 300 residents.

All, that is, except Ora, her ten-year-old son Yair, and their two dogs, a pinscher called Millie and Simba, a Caucasian shepherd. She also keeps 30 chickens. Her four goats died, she explains, ‘because of the trauma caused by so many explosions’.

So why on earth does she remain?

‘Why should they bully me out of my house?’ she replies. ‘Londoners refused to leave their city during the Blitz when the Germans were bombing. That is inspiring to me. I have the same spirit.’ She laments that business at her restaurant, Galilee Delights, has all but dried up.

Before October 7, it attracted parties of up to 40 tourists, drawn to the area by the clean air, scenery and hiking trails. Now, her only customers are Israeli soldiers. ‘They just do takeaway,’ she says. ‘It is not safe for them to stay here.’

Shtula, a village in northern Israel, shares a green valley with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group. Pictured: A concrete border fence between Israel and Lebanon from near Shtula

Shtula, a village in northern Israel, shares a green valley with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group. Pictured: A concrete border fence between Israel and Lebanon from near Shtula

A video clip shows an anti tank missile fired at house next door to Ora Hatan's property in Shetula

A video clip shows an anti tank missile fired at house next door to Ora Hatan’s property in Shetula

The explosion from the strike. Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, have been engaged in near-daily cross-border strikes since the October 7 attacks on Israel

The explosion from the strike. Israel and Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, have been engaged in near-daily cross-border strikes since the October 7 attacks on Israel

Smoke emanating from the strike. The video opens with a bone-chilling view of Ora's neighbour's home – with the edge of Ora's balcony just in sight on the edge of the screen

Smoke emanating from the strike. The video opens with a bone-chilling view of Ora’s neighbour’s home – with the edge of Ora’s balcony just in sight on the edge of the screen

An Israeli reservist says: ‘Ora is a special lady. Every day is like a game of ping pong – they fire at us, we fire back.’ There is also the fear that the elite Radwan special forces of Hezbollah will try to seize parts of Galilee, where Jesus did his three years of ministry.

To do so, though, would invite an Israeli onslaught – politically risky when the Lebanese economy is in freefall.

The reservist says Israel’s rocket-intercepting Iron Dome defence system cannot block Hezbollah’s anti-tank missiles here because they fly too low.

‘You hear a whistle. All you can do is lie flat on the ground,’ he says. Ora’s son Jonathan, 21, is studying dentistry at university in Jerusalem and returns home at weekends to be with his mum at what must be the world’s most dangerous restaurant. He says: ‘I’ve tried to get my mother to move but she’s determined and brave.’

As proof of the threat, he shows us a video posted online by Hezbollah of a missile attack last month on the house next door.

Ora Hatan at her home taking an afternoon tea on her balcony in Shetula, northern Israel. She lives with her ten-year-old son Yair, and their two dogs, a pinscher called Millie and Simba, a Caucasian shepherd

Ora Hatan at her home taking an afternoon tea on her balcony in Shetula, northern Israel. She lives with her ten-year-old son Yair, and their two dogs, a pinscher called Millie and Simba, a Caucasian shepherd

Ora in her home preparing food for the Israeli soldiers stationed nearby in Shetula

Ora in her home preparing food for the Israeli soldiers stationed nearby in Shetula

Ora also keeps 30 chickens. Her four goats died, she explains, 'because of the trauma caused by so many explosions'

Ora also keeps 30 chickens. Her four goats died, she explains, ‘because of the trauma caused by so many explosions’ 

From the perspective of the unseen Hezbollah fighters, the video opens with a bone-chilling view of Ora’s neighbour’s home – with the edge of Ora’s balcony just in sight on the edge of the screen.

A red circle follows a figure walking behind the house. The words ‘Targeting of a gathering of soldiers of the enemy Israeli army in the settlement of Shtula in the western sector’ flash up. Just before the missile explodes, the words change to: ‘The moment a soldier enters into position point inside the house.’

The implication, of course, is that the Israeli – a member of the rapid response squad guarding the village – was killed. But, in fact, he survived unscathed.

Above the din of artillery outside, Ora says she misses the ‘normality’ of meeting friends for coffee and attending college where she is studying law part-time.

Before we say our farewells, she tells us of her difficulties finding a plumber to fix her washing machine.

‘I rang one but as soon as I told him where, he said: ‘Shtula? No, no, no! What are you even doing there? Are you crazy?’

‘Maybe I am.’



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