Golan Heights

Post 426

Golan Heights

Coordinates32°58′54″N 35°44′58″E

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others

The Golan Heights (Arabic: هضبة الجولان‎ Haḍbatu ‘l-Jawlān or مرتفعات الجولانMurtafaʻātu l-JawlānHebrew: רמת הגולן‎, Ramat ha-Golan , sometimes referred to as the Syrian Heights, form a rocky plateau of great strategic importance with an average altitude of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and an area totaling 1,800 square kilometres (690 sq mi). The plateau is located at the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and straddles the borders of Syria and Israel. Elevations range from 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in the north, to below sea level along the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River in the south. A popular tourist destination attracting three million tourists a year, the Golan has a rich history and features numerous archeological landmarks, scenic streams, mountains and waterfalls. The Golan Heights contribute significantly to the water resources of the region, providing about 15% of Israel’s water supply. The region is also the source of a large proportion of Israel’s agricultural production.

Ancient sources do not reveal much about the history and the people of the region. The earliest evidence of human habitation dates to the Upper Paleolithic period.According to the Bible, an Amorite Kingdom in Bashan was conquered by Israelites during the reign of King Og. The biblical narrative also indicates that the Israelite tribe of Manassehinhabited the region during the 13th century BC.

Marom Golan - Golan heights, Kinneret

Another image from the recent snow storm up north. Here we can see the a man-made reservoir not far from Marom Golan. (Davidwh)

By the 9th century BC, the Arameans controlled the majority of the area.Itureansstarted living in Golan in the middle of the 2nd century BCE.During the First Jewish–Roman War the town of Gamla served as the Jewish stronghold in the north, and in the 3rd century the Ghassanids established their capital at Jabiyah. Jews continued to inhabit the area until the end of the 11th century. Various empires have controlled the area throughout history, and during the 16th century the Golan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. It was in the late 19th century, from about 1878 on, when the Ottoman authorities started developing the area for settlement, that most communities on the plateau were established. The region formed part of theOttoman Vilayet of Damascus until 1918 when it was transferred to the French Mandate of Syria. When the mandate terminated in 1944, it became part of the newly independent Syrian Arab Republic.

Two-thirds of the region was captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War and has since been occupied by Israel. Immediately following the Six-Day War, Israel was willing to give up the Golan in exchange for peace with Syria; however, Syria refused to negotiate. In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel agreed to return about 5% of the territory to Syrian civilian control. This part was incorporated into a demilitarised strip of land that runs along the ceasefire line and extends further eastward. This strip is under the military control of UN peace keeping forces. Construction of Israeli settlements began in the remainder of the territory held by Israel which was governed under military administration until 1981, when Israel passed the Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law and administration throughout the territory. This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497, which called the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan Heights “null and void and without international legal effect.” Israel, however, asserts its right to retain the area, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”. Many states consider the continued Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights as a tactic of self-defense, while Syria doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. However, the international community reject any Israeli claims to the territory, and consider Israel a belligerent occupant of the territory. The area involved represents 0.65% of Syria’s total landmass and amounts to nearly 6% of the total area under Israeli law. The period of Israeli control in the Golan has been marked by economic development, prosperity, and relatively tranquil relations between the Druze and the Israeli settlers.

Golan Heights
هضبة الجولان
רמת הגולן

Satellite view of the Eastern Mediterranean with the location of Golan highlighted

Status Internationally recognised asSyrian territory occupied by Israel. Currently under Israeli civil administration. Claimed by Syria.
Area
– Total 1,800 km2 (695 sq mi)
– Currently occupied and de facto-annexed by Israel 1,200 km2 (463.3 sq mi)
Highest elevation 2,814 m (9,232 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2005)
– Total 38,900 (in the Israeli-occupied part) 79,000 (in the Syrian- controlled part)

Etymology and toponymy

Arabic names are Jawlān and Djolan (Arabic: جولان‎). In the bible Golan is mentioned as a city of refuge located in Bashan:Deuteronomy 4:43Joshua 20:81Chronicles 6:71. 19th century authors interpreted the word “Golan” (Hebrew: גולן‎) as meaning “something surrounded, hence a district“.The Greek name for the region is Gaulanitis(Greek: Γαυλανῖτις). In the Mishna the name is Gablān similar to Aramaic language names for the region: GawlānaGuwlanaand Gublānā.

Arab cartographers of the Byzantine period referred to the area as jabal (mountain), though the region is a plateau. The Muslims took over in 7th century CE. The name Golan Heights was not used before the 19th century CE.

Geography

File:Umm Qais Galilee-Golan panorama.jpg

Sea of Galilee and southern Golan Heights, from Umm Qais, Jordan

The Golan Heights is an area in the southwestern corner of Syria, measuring 1,175 square kilometres (454 sq mi). The area borders Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. The area is hilly and high and allows observation of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the 2,743.2 metres (9,000 ft) tallMount Hermon.

Sunset - Golan heights, Kinneret

the Mt. Hermon looking west to the valley.
The small mountain at the center is the Nimrod Fortress, an ancient fortress on a ridge rising about 800 m (2600 feet) above sea level (built around 1229).

The plateau that Israel controls is part of a larger area of volcanic basalt fields stretching north and east that were created in the series of volcanic eruptions that began recently in geological terms, almost 4 million years ago, and continue to this day. It has distinct geographic boundaries. On the north, the Sa’ar valley (Banias) generally divides the lighter-colored limestone bedrock of the mountains from the dark-colored volcanic rocks of the Golan plateau. The western border of the plateau is truncated structurally by the Jordan Rift Valley, which falls down steeply into the lake. South of Yarmuk River lies Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan end east of Raqqad river ( Wadi Ruqqad ) are areas still controlled by Syria.

sea of Galilee sunset - Golan heights, Kinneret

The plateau’s north-south length is approximatively 65 kilometres (40 mi) and its east-west width varies from 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to 25 kilometres (16 mi). Topographically, the Golan Heights ranges in elevation from 2,814 metres (9,232 ft) on Mount Hermon in the north, to about 400 metres (1,300 ft) elevation along the Yarmuk Riverin the south. Lake Kinneret (also known as Sea of GalileeLake Tiberias) at the southwest corner of the plateau is 200 metres (660 ft) bellow sea level. The steeper, more rugged topography is generally limited to the northern half, including Mt. Hermon foothill, on the south the plateau is more level.

sea of Galilee - Golan heights, Kinneret

The broader Golan plateau exhibits a more subdued topography, generally ranging between 120 metres (390 ft) and 520 metres (1,710 ft) in elevation. In Israel, the Golan plateau is usually divided into three regions: northern (between the Sa’ar and Jilabun valleys), central (between the Jilabun and Daliyot valleys), and southern (between the Dlayot and Yarmouk valleys). The Golan Heights is bordered on the west by a rock escarpment that drops 500 metres (1,600 ft) to the Jordan River valley and the Sea of Galilee. In the south, the incised Yarmouk River valley marks the limits of the plateau and, east of the abandoned railroad bridge upstream of Hamat Gaderand Al Hammah, it marks the recognised international border between Syria and Jordan.

Man & Tree if knowledge - Golan heights, Kinneret

Geologically, the Golan plateau and the Hauran plain to the east constitute a Holocene volcanic field that also extends northeast almost toDamascus. Much of the area is scattered with dormant volcanos, as well as cinder cones, such as Majdal Shams. The plateau also contains a crater lake, called Birkat Ram (“Ram Pool”), which is fed by both surface runoff and underground springs. These volcanic areas are characterised by basalt bedrock and dark soils derived from its weathering. The basalt flows overlie older, distinctly lighter-colored limestonesand marls, exposed along the Yarmouk River in the south.

Somewhere in the Golan Heights - Golan heights, Kinneret

The rock forming the mountainous area in the northern Golan Heights, descending from Mount Hermon, are geologically quite different from the volcanic rocks of the plateau, including a different physiography. The mountains are characterised by distinctly lighter-colored, Jurassicage limestone of sedimentary origin. Locally, the limestone is broken by faults and solution channels to form a karst-like topography in which springs are common (e.g. Baniyas).

Golan in spring - Golan heights, Kinneret

The group of Eucalyptus trees planted by the Syrian around their army camps (to supply shade in the very hot and dry summer days).
The lonely Oak tree in the middle of an endless grassy field.
The piles of Basalt rocks covered with colorful lichen and surrounded by small flowers in yellow, red, orange and blue.
And the beautiful blue skies dotted with friendly clouds.

In addition to its strategic importance militarily, the Golan Heights contributes significantly to the water resources of the region. This is true particularly at the higher elevations, which are snow-covered much of the year in the cold months and help to sustain baseflow for rivers and springs during the dry season. The heights receive significantly more precipitation than the surrounding, lower-elevation areas. The occupied sector of the Golan Heights provides or controls a substantial portion of the water in the Jordan River watershed, which in turn provides a portion of Israel’s water supply. The Golan Heights are the source of about 15% of Israel’s water supply.

crossword - Golan heights, Kinneret

This one is Sitvanit Hatashbetz (Colchicum feinbruniae). 
It’s Hebrew name compounds of two words:
Sitvanit = “a little automn flower”
Hatashbetz = “the crossword”. look at the pattern on the leaves to figure out why.(Crossword by Ylivny)

History

The Venus of Berekhat Ram is a stone figure from the Lower Paleolithicera found in the Golan Heights. It was possibly created by Homo erectus between 700,000 and 230,000 BCE.

File:Ein Fiq, Golan Heights - 20040223-03.jpg

Landscape in the Golan

The area has been occupied by many civilizations. During the 3rd millennium BC the Amoritesdominated and inhabited the Golan until the 2nd millennium, when the Arameans took over. The Aramaean city state Aram Damascus reached over most of Golan to the Sea of Galilee.

the yolk flower - Golan heights, Kinneret

The Yolk Flower by Ylivny, Khelmonit Gdola (Sternbergia clusiana), on Mt. Khazak, very near to the border with Syria.
Its Hebrew name – Khelmonit – can be translated into something like “the little yolk flower”.

According to the Bible, the Children of Israel conquered the Golan from the Amorites. The bible also says that the area, later known as Bashan, was inhabited by two Israelite tribes during the time of Joshua, the tribe of Dan and Manasseh. The city of Golan was used as a city of refuge.King Solomon appointed ministers in the region.

File:Banyas BW 9.jpg

The Hermon stream

After the split of the United Monarchy, the area was contested between the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom from the 9th century BC. King Ahab of Israel (reigned 874–852 BC) defeated Ben-Hadad I in the southern Golan.

In the 8th century BC the Assyrians gained control of the area, but were later replaced by theBabylonian and the Persian Empire. In the 5th century BC, the Persian Empire allowed the region to be resettled by returning Jewish exiles from Babylonian Captivity.

vulture over the waterfall - Golan heights, Kinneret

Credit Kogawa, The vulture use to be the king of the birds in Israel until recently.
The progress and the cultivation of every square Km, in one of the crowdies countries in the world (along with Rwanda Burundi and India).
Still we are doing our best to conserve nature, and by now there are more then 60 couples of vultures in Israel.
In this pic the vulture is flying over the highest waterfall in Israel.

The Golan Heights, along with the rest of the region, came under the control of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, following the Battle of Issus. Following Alexander’s death, the Golan came under the domination of the Macedonian noble Seleucus and remained part of the Seleucid Empire for most of the next two centuries. It is during this period that the name Golan, previously that of a city mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy, came to be applied to the entire region (Greek: Gaulanitis).

In the middle of the 2nd century BCE, Itureans started living in the Golan.They lived in over 100 locations in the Mount Hermon and Golan region.

Vulture over Gamla - Golan heights, Kinneret

The Maccabean Revolt saw much action in the regions around the Golan and it is possible that the Jewish communities of the Golan were among those rescued by Judas Maccabeus during his campaign in the Galilee and Gilead(Transjordan) mentioned in Chapter 5 of 1 Maccabees. The Golan, however, remained in Seleucid hands until the campaign of Alexander Jannaeus from 83–80 BC. Jannaeus established the city of Gamla in 81 BC as the Hasmonean capital for the region.

 

Map of the Hasmonean Kingdom after 103 BCE which included the Golan

During the Roman and Byzantine periods the area was administered as part of Phoenicia Primaand Syria Palaestina, and finally Golan/Gaulanitis was included together with Peraea inPalaestina Secunda, after 218 AD.Ancient kingdom Bashan was incorporated into the province of Batanea.

Golan Heights - Golan heights, Kinneret

This picture was taken from the Hermon mountain. This is the highest place in Israel.(credit miboris)

Following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Augustus Caesaradjudicated that the Golan fell within the Tetrarchy of Herod’s son, Herod Philip I. After Philip’s death in 34 AD, the Romansabsorbed the Golan into the province of Syria, but Caligula restored the territory to Herod’s grandson Agrippa in 37. Following Agrippa’s death in 44, the Romans again annexed the Golan to Syria, promptly to return it again when Claudius traded the Golan to Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I, in 51 as part of a land swap. Although nominally under Agrippa’s control and not part of the province of Judea, the Jewish communities of the Golan joined their coreligionists in the First Jewish-Roman War, only to fall to the Roman armies in its early stages. Gamla was captured in 67; according to Josephus, its inhabitants committed mass suicide, preferring it to crucifixion andslavery. Agrippa II contributed soldiers to the Roman war effort and attempted to negotiate an end to the revolt. In return for his loyalty, Rome allowed him to retain his kingdom, but finally absorbed the Golan for good after his death in 100.

This girl  on the roadside somewhere in the Golan heights towards Lebanon… It looked quite idyllic,  sure it is a hard life for a kid.

In about 250, the GhassanidsArab Christians from Yemen, established a kingdom which encompassed southern Syria and the Transjordan, building their capital at Jabiyah on the Golan. Like the later Herodians, the Ghassanids ruled as clients of Byzantine Rome; unlike the Herodians, the Ghassanids were able to hold on to the Golan until the Sassanid invasion of 614. Following a brief restoration under the Emperor Heraclius, the Golan again fell, this time to the invading Arabs after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636.

what is this? - Golan heights, Kinneret

What is this?, by amzamz. it looks like a grave, or some other ceremonial location. It was a bit hidden and no people around. I also cannot identify if the mural is a graffiti or an official part of the building. It seems to mix arab and hebrew writing. Anything to do with Mohawid (Druse) tradition? If you know more, please help by attaching your comments here.

Middle Ages

After Yarmouk, Muawiyah I, a member of Muhammad‘s tribe, the Quraish, was appointed governor of Syria, including the Golan. Following the assassination of his cousin, the Caliph Uthman, Muawiya claimed the Caliphate for himself, initiating the Umayyad dynasty. Over the next few centuries, while remaining in Muslim hands, the Golan passed through many dynastic changes, falling first to the Abbasids, then to theShi’ite Fatimids, then to the Seljuk Turks, then to the Kurdish Ayyubids. During the Crusades, the Heights represented a formidable obstacle the Crusader armies were not able to conquer, and the area was a part of the Emirate of Damascus during this time.The Mongolsswept through in 1259, but were driven off by the Mamluk sultan Qutuz at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Ain Jalut ensured Mamluk dominance of the region for the next 250 years. For many centuries nomadic tribes lived together with the sedentary population in the region. At times, the central government attempted to settle the nomads which would result in the establishment of permanent communities. When the power of the governing regime declined, as happened during the early Muslim period, nomadic trends increased and many of the rural and agricultural villages were abandoned due to harassment from the Bedouins. They were not resettled until the second half of the 19th century.

Ancient Arches - Golan heights, Kinneret

During a short hike around the southern Golan Heights you can come across some very nice sights. These are the ruins of an ancient building, all that remains are the central arches, a tribute to traditional architecture(by lirona)

16th-century: Ottoman control

In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks came to control Syria. During this time, the Golan formed part of the southern district of their empire. Some Druze communities were established in the Golan during the 17th and 18th centuries.In 1868 it was reported that the region was “almost entirely desolate”. A travel handbook noted that from a list of 127 ancient towns and villages which were spread across the Golan province in former times, only 11 were inhabited. As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, there was a huge influx of refugees from the Caucasus into the empire. The Ottomans directed them to settle in southern Syria, particularly on the Golan Heights and granted them lands with a 12 year tax exemption.

A farm on Golan Heights near Katzrin. The Middle East

In 1884 there were still open stretches of uncultivated land between villages in the lower Golan, but by the mid-1890s most was owned and had been cultivated. Some land had been purchased in the Golan and Hawran by Zionist associations based in Romania, Bulgaria, the USA and England, in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1880, Laurence Oliphant published Eretz ha-Gilad (The Land ofGilead), which described a plan for large scale Jewish settlement in the Golan, but the Turks snubbed the scheme. In 1886, members of the old yishuv in Safed formed the Bet Yehuda Society and purchased 14,000 dunams of land near the circassian village of Ramthaniya, in the central Golan. But due to financial hardships and the long wait for a kushan (Ottoman land deed) the village, Golan be-Bashan, was abandoned after a year. Soon afterwards, the society regrouped and purchased land in the nearby Bedouin village of Bir Shaqum in the southern Golan. The village they established, Bnei Yehuda, survived until 1920 when the last remaining inhabitants left following a Arab attack. In 1944 the JNF bought the Bnei Yehuda lands from their Jewish owners, but subsequently lost a lawsuit with the Arabs of Bir Shaqum regarding the Jewish ownership of the land.

A lookout at western shore of Lake Kinneret near En Gev. The Middle East

“The Jewish colonies there have long passed the tentative stage, and are an established success…up to recently the Turkish government did all it could to hinder the formation of Jewish settlements in the south of Syria.”
—The Church at Home and Abroad, 1890.

Between 1891 and 1894, Baron Edmond James de Rothschildpurchased nearly 80,000 dunams (30 miles sq.) of land consisting of 16 villages in southern Syria for Jewish settlement. Most of the land was situated in the eastern Golan and now lies a few kilometres from the 1967 lines, inside Syria. The parcels of land straddled both sides of the Nahr al-Allan. Over the years attempts to settle these lands was only partly successful and it remained sparsely populated by Jews. The Russian Agudat Achim Association acquired land in several locations in the districts of Fiq and Daraa and at Jillin where a farm was built and extensive eucalyptus groves were planted. The Jews also managed to build a road stretching from Lake Hula to Muzayrib. A village called Tiferet Binyamin was set up on lands at Saham el-Jolan by the Shavei Zion Association based in New York, but the project was abandoned after a year when the Turks issued an edit in 1896 evicting the 17 non-Turkish families. A later attempt to resettle the land with Syrian Jews, Turkish citizens, also failed. In 1899, the Pasha of Damascus expelled the Jews from all of Rothschild’s estates.

Church of Beatitudes in Tabgha on Lake Kinneret. The Middle East

Church of Beatitudes in Tabgha near Lake Kinneret. The Middle East

Church of Beatitudes in Tabgha on Lake Kinneret

Between 1904–08, a group of Crimean Jews settled in the BethsaidaValley, initially as tenants of a Kurdish proprietor with the prospects of purchasing the land, but the arrangement faltered.Jewish settlement in the region peated out over time, either due to Arab hostility and Turkish bureaucracy, disease or economic difficulties. In 1921–1930, during the French Mandate, the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PJCA) obtained the deeds to the Rothschild estate and continued to manage it, collecting rents from the Arab peasants living there. In 1944, the Syrian Land Settlement Campaign refused to recognize the foreign owned PJCA as the legal owners of the land and the Syrian government confiscated it without compensation on the grounds that “it was contrary to Syrian policy to allow Jews to own land in Syria.” The JNF still lays claim to the land.

The Church of Multiplication of the Loaves and...on Lake Kinneret. The Middle East

1920s: Mandates, drawing borders

 

Boundary changes in the area of the Golan Heights in the 20th-century

Great Britain accepted a Mandate for Palestine at the meeting of the Allied Supreme Council at San Remo, but the borders of the territory were not defined at that stage. The boundary between the forthcoming British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920. That agreement placed the bulk of the Golan Heights in the French sphere. The treaty also established a joint commission to settle the precise details of the border and mark it on the ground. The commission submitted its final report on February 3, 1922, and it was approved with some caveats by the British and French governments on March 7, 1923, several months before Britain and France assumed their Mandatory responsibilities on 29 September 1923. In accordance with the same process, a nearby parcel of land that included the ancient site of Tel Danand the Dan spring were transferred from Syria to Palestine early in 1924. The Golan Heights, including the spring at Wazzani and the one at Banias, thus became part of the French Mandate of Syria, while the Sea of Galilee was placed entirely within the British Mandate of Palestine. When the French Mandate of Syria ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria and was later incorporated into Quneitra Governorate.

Church of Primacy of St.Peter in Capernaum, on Lake Kinneret. The Middle East

Post 1948: Land and water ownership disputes

After the 1948–49 Arab-Israeli War, the Golan Heights were partly demilitarised by the Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement. During the following years, the area along the border witnessed thousands of violent incidents; the armistice agreement was being violated by both sides. The underlying causes of the conflict were a disagreement over the legal status of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), cultivation of land within it and competition over water resources. Syria claimed that neither party had sovereignty over the DMZ. Israel contented that the Armistice Agreement dealt solely with military concerns and that she had political and legal rights over the DMZ.

Lake Kinneret near Tiberias. The Middle East

Israel wanted to assert control up till the 1923 boundary in order to reclaim the Hula swamp, gain exclusive rights to Lake Galilee and divert water from the Jordan for itsNational Water Carrier. During 1950s, Syria registered two principal territorial accomplishments: it took over Al-Hammah enclosure south ofLake Tiberias and established a de-facto presence on and control of eastern shore of the lake.

 

Israeli children in a bomb shelter atKibbutz Dan. Prior to the Six-Day War, the Syrians frequently shelled Israeli communities from their dominant positions on the Golan.

Attempt by Israel and Syria to divert water from the Jordan River and its tributaries in the 1950s and 60s sparked a series of military exchanges in July 1966. Fatah began raids into Israeli territory in early 1965, with active support from Syria. At first the militants entered via Lebanon or Jordan, but those countries made concerted attempts to stop them and raids directly from Syria increased. Israel’s response was a series of retaliatory raids, of which the largest were an attack on the Jordanian village of Samu in November 1966. In April 1967, after Syria heavily shelled Israeli villages from the Golan Heights, Israel shot down six Syrian MiG fighter planes and warned Syria against future attacks.

 

Border skirmishes

In the period between Israel’s War of Independence and the Six Day War, the Arab countries, including Syria, refused to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation. During this time, the Syrians constantly harassed Israeli border communities by firing artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights.In October 1966 Israel brought the matter up before the United Nations. Five nations sponsored a resolution criticizing Syria for its actions but it failed to pass due to a Soviet veto.

Former Israeli General Mattityahu Peled said that more than half of the border clashes before the 1967 war “were a result of our security policy of maximum settlement in the demilitarised area.” Israeli incursions into the zone were responded to with Syrians shooting. Israel in turn would retaliate with military force. The Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said in a 1976 interview that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria. Some historians have discounted Dayan’s comment as an off the cuff remark made during an informal talk.Jan Mühren, a former UN observer in the area at the time, told a Dutch current affairs programme that Israel provoked most border incidents as part of its strategy to annex more land.

Muki Tzur, leader of the United Kibbutz Movement, challenged this contention saying that discussions about taking the Golan Heights were about security for the kibbutzim in Galilee. “No kibbutz got any land from conquering the Golan Heights…It’s cynicism to say the kibbutzim wanted land.”

Sir Alec Douglas-Home, former Prime Minister of the UK, stated that when he was visiting the Galilee a few months before the 1967 war “at regular intervals the Russian-built forts on the Golan Heights used to lob shells into the villages, often claiming civilian casualties.” He said after the 1973 war that any agreement between the two sides “must clearly put a stop the that kind of offensive action.”

Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Meir summed up life in Israel’s northern border communities adjacent to the Golan as follows:

The Syrians seemed bent on an escalation of the conflict; they kept up an endless bombardment of Israel’s settlements below the Golan Heights, and Israeli fishermen and farmers faced what was sometimes virtually daily attacks by snipers. I used to visit the settlements occasionally and watch the settlers go about their work as though there nothing at all unusual in plowing with a military escort or putting children to sleep – every single night – in underground air raid shelters.

1967: Six-Day War, Israel occupies the Golan Heights

File:Golan evacuation.jpg

Syrian families evacuating the Golan Heights in 1967

After the Six-Day War broke out in June 1967, Syria’s shelling greatly intensified and the Israeli army captured the Golan Heights on 9–10 June. The area which came under Israeli control as a result of the war is two geologically distinct areas: the Golan Heights proper 1,070 square kilometres (410 sq mi) and the slopes of the Mt. Hermon range 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi). The new border between the two forces was named the Purple Line. In the battle, Israel lost 115 men with another 306 wounded. An estimated 2,500 Syrians were killed, with another 5,000 wounded.

During the war, between 80,000 and 131,00 Arab Druze and Circassians fled or were driven from the heights and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-occupied territory. Israel has not allowed former residents to return, citing security reasons. Israeli settlement in the Golan began soon after the war. Merom Golan was founded in July 1967 and by 1970 there were 12 settlements. Israeli sources and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported that much of the local population of 100,000 fled as a result of the war, whereas the Syrian government stated that a large proportion of it was expelled.

Allon Plan for a Druze state

In the 1970s, Israeli politician Yigal Allon proposed as part of the Allon Plan that a Druze state be established in Syria’s Quneitra Governorate, including the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Allon died in 1980 and his plan never materialised.

1973: Yom Kippur War

During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Syrian forces overran much of the southern Golan, before being pushed back by an Israeli counterattack. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights in Israeli hands. East of the 1974 ceasefire line lies the Syrian controlled part of the Heights, an area that was not captured by Israel 500 square kilometres (190 sq mi) or withdrawn from 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi). This area forms 30% of the Golan Heights. Today it contains more than 40 Syrian towns and villages. In 1975, following the 1974 ceasefire agreement, Israel returned a narrow demilitarised zone to Syrian control. Some of the displaced residents began returning to their homes located in this strip and the Syrian government began helping people rebuild their villages, except for Quneitra. In the mid-1980s the Syrian government launched a plan called “The Project for the Reconstruction of the Liberated Villages”. (By the end of 2007, Syria had settled the region with an estimated population of 79,000.)

File:Israeli troops at Golan front 1973.jpg

Israeli artillery in action on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War

1981: Golan Heights Law

The Golan Heights had been under military administration since 1967. In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which applied Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Golan Heights. Although the law in effect annexed the territory to Israel, it was not formally annexed.The area was administered as part of Israel’s North District.

Picture - war memorial on  upper golan israel.  fotosearch - search  stock photos,  pictures, wall  murals, images,  and photo clipart

Pictures of War Memorial on Upper Golan Israel

Israel’s action was not recognised internationally and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which declared the Golan Heights an Israeli occupied territory continues to apply. Israel maintains that it may retain the area as the text of Resolution 242 calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

During the negotiations regarding the text of United Nations Security Council resolution 242, U.S. Secretary of State Rusk explained that U.S. support for secure permanent frontiers did not mean the US supported territorial changes. The U.N. representative for Great Britain who was responsible for negotiating and drafting the Security Council resolution said that the actions of the Israeli Government in establishing settlements and colonizing the Golan are in clear defiance of Resolution 242.

Stock Photography - golan heights,  israel. fotosearch  - search stock  photos, pictures,  wall murals, images,  and photo clipart

Syria continued to demand a full Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders, including a strip of land on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee that Syria captured during the 1948–49 Arab-Israeli War and occupied from 1949–67. Successive Israeli governments have considered an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for normalization of relations with Syria, provided certain security concerns are met. Prior to 2000, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad rejected normalization with Israel.

1999–2003: Peace negotiations

 

Minefield warning sign in the Golan. Mines were originally deployed by the Syrian army, but remain active. Since 1973, there have been at least 216 landmine casualties in the Syrian-controlled Golan, of which 108 were fatalities.
An Israeli soldier catches up on missed sleep against a pillbox after taking part in a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.
An Israeli soldier catches up his sleep against a pillbox after taking part in a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.
Israeli Paratrooper Brigade Conducts Exercise In Golan Heights

An Israeli soldier catches up his sleep against a pillbox after taking part in a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

During United States–brokered negotiations in 1999–2000, Israel and Syria discussed a peace deal that would include Israeli withdrawal in return for a comprehensive peace structure, recognition and full normalization of relations. The disagreement in the final stages of the talks was on access to the Sea of Galilee. Israel offered to withdraw to the pre-1948 border (the 1923 Paulet-Newcombe line), while Syria insisted on the 1967 frontier. The former line has never been recognised by Syria, claiming it was imposed by the colonial powers, while the latter was rejected by Israel as the result of Syrian aggression. The difference between the lines is less than 100 m for the most part, but the 1967 line would give Syria access to the Sea of Galilee, and Israel wished retain control of the Sea of Galilee, its only freshwater lake and a major water resource.

An Israeli army tank advances in support of paratroopers as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

In late 2003, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he was ready to revive peace talks with Israel. Israel demanded Syria first disarm Hezbollah, which launched many attacks on northern Israeli towns and army posts from Lebanese territory, and cease to host militant Palestinian groups and their headquarters. Talks were not initiated.

Aftermath of 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

After the 2006 war between Israel and Syrian–Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas, the issue of the Golan Heights arose again. Israel heightened its alert over a possible war with Syria after Israeli intelligence assessed that Syria was “seriously examining” military action. Syria reinforced its forces on the Golan while remaining in a defensive position. President Assad stated that Syria was prepared to hold peace talks with Israel but said that if hopes for peace dissolve then “war may really be the only solution”. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dismissed calls within his coalition to consider peace talks and proclaimed that “the Golan Heights will remain in our hands forever”.

Israeli army tanks advance in support of paratroopers as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Others, including cabinet minister Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert’s spokesman Assaf Shariv doubted Assad’s sincerity and suggested that Assad’s statements were a bid at deflecting international criticism of his regime and specifically explaining that the alleged approach by Assad “is coming in the weeks before the decision on Rafik Hariri“, referring to the international inquiry on the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister.

 

Common Israeli bumper sticker reading “The people are with the Golan”. A 2008 poll found that 2/3 of Israelis opposed withdrawing from the Golan for the peace treaty Syria was offering in return.

Recent developments

In June 2007, it was reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had sent a secret message toSyrian PresidentBashar Assad saying that Israel would concede the land in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement and the severing of Syria’s ties with Iran and militant groups in the region.[95] On the same day, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the former Syrian President, Hafez Assad, had promised to let Israel retain Mount Hermon in any future agreement.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

In April 2008, Syrian media reported Turkey‘s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told President Bashar al-Assad that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace.Israeli leaders of communities in the Golan Heights held a special meeting and stated: “all construction and development projects in the Golan are going ahead as planned, propelled by the certainty that any attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty in the Golan will cause severe damage to state security and thus is doomed to fail”.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

The same year, a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly voted by 171–1 in favour of a motion on the Golan Heights that reaffirmed Security Council resolution 497 and called on Israel to desist from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements [and] from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.” Israel was the only nation to vote against the resolution.

Israeli army paratroopers cross the tracks left by dozens of tanks as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

In May 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel would never give up the Golan and would keep the heights forever. He believed returning the Golan Heights would turn it into “Iran‘s front lines which will threaten the whole state of Israel. He said: “I remember the Golan Heights without Katzrin, and suddenly we see a thriving city in the Land of Israel, which having been a gem of the Second Temple era has been revived anew.

An Israeli Air Force helicopter flies over an armored column during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

American diplomat Martin Indyk indicated that the 1999–2000 round of negotiations began through backchannels during Netanyahu’s first term (1996–1999), and that Netanyahu’s position was not as hardline as he made out. In 2010, warning Syria against drawing Israel into war, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Syria should abandon its “dreams” of recovering the Israeli-held Golan Heights

Aspects of dispute

File:Golan heights border.jpg

Overview of UN zone and Syrian controlled territory from the Golan Heights

Claims on the territory cited by some supporters of Israel include the fact that part of the Golan region, (delineated by a rough triangle formed by the towns of BaniasQuneitra and the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee), was part of the British Palestine Mandate in which the establishment of a Jewish national home had been promised.

Israeli army paratroopers catch up on missed sleep as their brigade completed a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

In 1923, this northwestern area was ceded to the French Mandate in Syria, primarily in exchange for French concessions in the oil rich areas of Iraq, although the whole of the Sea of Galilee was placed inside Palestine as compensation. Syrians counter that the region was placed in the Vilayet of Damascus as part of Syria under the Ottoman boundaries and that the 1920 British-Franco agreement which had placed part of the Golan under the control of Britain was only temporary and that the final border line drawn up in 1923, which excluded the Golan triangle, had superseded it,(although Syria has never recognised the 1923 border as legally binding).Territorial claims

Three lines: 1923 border, 1949 armistice, 1967 ceasefire

File:Nrthrdtrip 265.jpg

Mt. Hermon from the Road to Masaade

One of the aspects of the dispute involves the existence prior to 1967 of three different lines separating Syria from Israel (or, prior to 1948, from the British Mandate for Palestine).

The 1923 boundary between Mandate Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria was drawn with water in mind. Accordingly, it was demarcated so that all of the Sea of Galilee, including a 10-meter wide strip of beach along its northeastern shore, would stay inside Palestine. From the Sea of Galilee north to Lake Hula the boundary was drawn between 50 and 400 meters east of the upper Jordan River, keeping that stream entirely within the British Mandate. The British also received a sliver of land along the Yarmouk River, out to the present-day Hamat Gader.

An Israeli army paratrooper keeps his eye on the target during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

During the 1948–49 Arab-Israeli War, Syria captured various areas of the former Palestine mandate, including the 10-meter strip of beach, the east bank of the upper Jordan, as well as areas along the Yarmouk.

An Israeli army paratrooper keeps his eye on the target during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

During Armistice talks of 1949, Israel called for the removal of all Syrian forces from the former Palestine territory. Syria refused, insisting on an armistice line based not on the 1923 international border but on the military status quo. The result was a compromise. Under the terms of an armistice signed on July 20, 1949, Syrian forces were to withdraw east of the old Palestine-Syria boundary. Israeli forces were to refrain from entering the evacuated areas, which would become a demilitarised zone, “from which the armed forces of both Parties shall be totally excluded, and in which no activities by military or paramilitary forces shall be permitted.Accordingly, major parts of the armistice lines departed from the 1923 boundary and protruded into Israel. There were three distinct, non-contiguous enclaves—in the extreme northeast to the west of Banias, on the west bank of the Jordan River near Lake Hula, and the eastern-southeastern shores of the Sea of Galilee extending out to Hamat Gader, consisting of 66.5 square kilometers of land lying between the 1949 armistice line and the 1923 boundary, forming the demilitarised zone.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Following the armistice, both Israel and Syria sought to take advantage of the territorial ambiguities left in place by the 1949 agreement. This resulted in an evolving tactical situation, one “snapshot” of which was the disposition of forces immediately prior to the Six-Day War, the “line of June 4, 1967”.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Territorial sub-disputes

Shebaa Farms

Main article: Shebaa Farms

On June 7, 2000, the demarcation Blue Line was established by UN in order to ensure full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, according to UN Security Council Resolution 425. After Israeli troops left Lebanon soil, UN announced the resolution was respected. Lebanon continues to claim a small portion of the area occupied by Israel as part of the Golan Heights. The territory, known as the Shebaa Farms, measures 22 square kilometres (8.5 sq mi) and lies on the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights. Maps used by the UN in demarcating theBlue Line were not able to conclusively show the border between Lebanon and Syria in the area. Syria agrees that the Shebaa Farms are within Lebanese territory; however, Israel considers the area to be inside of Syria’s borders and continues to occupy the territory.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Al-Ghajar

Main article: Ghajar
File:Overlooking Ghajar.jpg

Overlooking Al Ghajar village

Al Ghajar village is another complex border issue west of Shebaa farms. Before the 1967 war thisAllawite village was in Syria. It is divided by an international boundary, with the northern part of the village on the Lebanese side since 2000. Residents of both parts hold Israeli citizenship, and in the northern part often a Lebanese passport as well. Today the entire village is surrounded by a fence, with no division between the Israeli and Lebanese sides. There is an Israeli army checkpoint at the entrance to the village from Israel.

Israeli army paratroopers open fire during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Maintenance of the ceasefire

UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) was established in 1974 to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement and maintain the ceasefire with an area of separation known as the UNDOF Zone. Currently there are more than 1,000 UN peacekeepersthere trying to sustain a lasting peace. Details of the UNDOF mission, mandate, map and military positions can be accessed via the following United Nations link Syria and Israel still contest the ownership of the Heights but have not used overt military force since 1974. The great strategic value of the Heights both militarily and as a source of water means that a deal is uncertain.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Members of the UN Disengagement force are usually the only individuals who cross the Israeli-Syrian de-facto border (cease fire “Alpha Line”), but since 1988 both Israel and Syria have taken measures to relieve the problems encountered by the Druze population of the Golan Heights. Since 1988 Israel has allowed Druze pilgrims to cross into the rest of Syria to visit the shrine of Abelon Mount Qasioun. In 2005, Syria allowed a few trucks of Druze-grown Golan apples to be imported. The trucks themselves were driven by Kenyan nationals. Since 1967, Druze brides have been allowed to cross the Golan border into the rest of Syria, but they do so in the knowledge that the journey is a one-way trip.

An Israeli army paratrooper officer pauses during his morning prayers to give orders on his field radio during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Current status

Israel began constructing settlements in the territory in the 1970s. The area was governed by military administration until 1981 when Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended Israeli law and administration throughout the territory.

Bombs explode on a target range as Israeli army paratroopers advance during their live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

This move was condemned by theUnited Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497, although Israel asserts its right to retain the area, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”. The continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights remains highly contested and is still regarded as belligerent occupation by most countries, but is recognised by many states as a valid military tactic in an unresolved conflict, consistent with the self-defence provision of the UN charter.

An Israeli army paratrooper signals the advance during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

However, the international community rejects the validity of the Golan Heights Law as an attempted annexation by force, illegal under the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. Israeli settlements and human rights policy in the occupied territory have also drawn criticism from the UN. In 1995, Shimon Peres was reported to have said that the “Golan plateau is Syrian land and we have settled on the Syrian land… We do not want to exercise power over another people, and that includes the Golan plateau which is not part of the Land of Israel.

Demographics

File:MajdalShamsMay2009.jpg

The town of Majdal Shams

According to most estimates, the population of the entire area prior to the 1967 Six Day War ranged from between 130,000–145,000. This included 17,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA. Between 80,000and 130,000 Syrians fled or were driven from the heights during the war and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-held territory.

Israeli army paratroopers set off before dawn for live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

In the late 1970s, the Israeli government offered all non-Israelis living in the Golan citizenship, but at present, fewer than 10% of the Druze are Israeli citizens; the remainder hold Syrian citizenship. (See: Druze of the Golan Heights.) The Alawite village of Ghajar accepted Israeli citizenship in 1981.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

The current population of the entire area numbers around 120,000 and consists mainly of Druze and Israeli Jews. In 1989, the total population in the Israeli-held territory was around 25,000, of whom 15,000 were non-Jews and 10,000 Jews. In 2009 it had a population of approximately 41,400. This includes approximately 17,600 Jews living in 34 settlements and 20,500 Druze and 2,200 Muslims mostly living in four Arab towns.The population of the Syrian-controlled territory numbers 79,000.

Smoke fills the air as Israeli army paratroopers fire an anti-tank missile during their training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Towns, villages and settlements

Prior to 1967, the population, ranging between 130,000 and 145,000, inhabited 312 separate residential areas, including two cities,Quneitraand Fiq, 163 villages and 108 farms and localities. After Israel’s capture of the heights during the 1967 war, around 7,000 people remained in six villages: Majdal ShamsMas’adeBuq’ataEin QiniyyeGhajarand Shayta. In 1968, the Israeli head of Surveying and Demolition Supervision for the Golan Heights proposed the demolition of 127 abandoned villages.By 1971, villages in the Israeli-held territory were being bulldozed as “they had become a health hazard and provided refuge for stray dogs, cats and fedayeen.After the demolitions, the lands were given to Israeli settlers.

An Israeli army paratrooper recites his morning prayers before joining his comrades in a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

Some 40 villages on the Syrian eastern side of the 1974 ceasefire line exist and in response to a Syrian government plan, the region has been settled with an estimated population of 79,000 (2007). Towns include Alhameedia, Almudareea, Alrafeed, Alsamdaneea, Barika, Beer Ajam, Gadeer Albustan, Hadar, Juba, Khan Arnabah, Kodana, Nabe’ Alsakher, Ofanya, Rwaiheena, Trinja, Umm Ale’zam and Umm Batna.Quneitra was the biggest city in the Golan Heights until 1967, housing some 27,000 people.

An Israeli army paratrooper rests at the first opportunity during a live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

The city came under Israeli control on the last day of the Six-Day War and was handed back to Syrian civil control per the 1974 Disengagement Agreement. Subsequently, there was a major controversy regarding the state of destruction which the town had been subjected to before the Israeli handover.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

The Israeli-occupied territory is administered by the Golan Regional Council, based in Katzrin, which has a population of 6,400. There are another 19 moshavim and 10 kibbutzim. The Druze reside mainly in the towns of Ein Qinya, Buq’ata, Majdal Shams, and Mas’ada. Majdal Shams is the largest, with 9,400 inhabitants.

Attractions and historical sites

File:Golan 007PAN.jpg

Panorama showing The upper Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon with the Hula Valley to the left

File:Nrthrdtrip 196PAN.jpg

Panorama looking west from the former Syrian post of Tel Faher.

The Golan Heights has a rich history and features numerous archeological sites, mountains, streams and waterfalls. Throughout the region 62 ancient synagogues have been found dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

  • Kursi

Kursi is the ruins of a Byzantine Christian monastery.

  • Katzrin

Katzrin is the administrative and commercial center of the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights. As such it hosts a large number of attractions.

Israeli army paratroopers advance as their brigade completes a week-long live-fire training exercise December 10, 2009 on the Golan Heights. The Israeli Knesset approved yesterday the first readings of a bill that would require a referendum on any withdrawal from sovereign Israeli territory, such as the Golan Heights, which the Jewish State annexed after capturing the strategic plateau from the Syrians in the 1967 Six Day War.

  • The Katzrin Ancient Village is fully excavated and one can tour the different houses in the village as well as the remains of a largesynagogue. There is also an interactive movie experience about the Talmudic time within the compound.
  • The Golan Archaeological Museum hosts archaeological finds uncovered in the Golan Heights from prehistoric times. A special focus concerns Gamla and excavations of synagogues and Byzantine churches.
  • The Golan Heights Winery, a major winery of Israel and the mineral water plant of Mey Eden which derives its water from the spring ofSalukiya in the Golan. One can tour these factories as well as factories of oil products and fruit products.
  • Two open air strip malls, one which holds the Kesem ha-Golan (Golan Magic), a three-dimensional movie and model of the geography and history of the Golan Heights.
File:Golan Heights - Gamla view.jpg

Gamla from above

  • Gamla Nature Reserve

The Gamla Nature Reserve is an open park which holds the archaeological remains of the ancient Jewish city of Gamla — including a tower, wall and synagogue. It is also the site of a large waterfall, an ancient Byzantine church, and a panoramic spot to observe the nearly 100vultures who dwell in the cliffs. Israeli scientists study the vultures and tourists can watch them fly and nest.

  • Rujm el-Hiri

Rujm el-Hiri is a large circular stone monument similar to Stonehenge. A 3D model of the site exists in the Museum of Golan Antiquities in Katzrin.

  • Um el Kanatir

Um el Kanatir is another impressive set of standing ruins of a Jewishvillage of the Byzantineera. The site includes a very large synagogueand two arches next to a natural spring.

  • Nimrod Fortress

Now a nature reserve, the Nimrod Fortress was once used by the AyyubidsCrusadersMongols and Mamluks.

  • Mount Hermon and Lake Ram

ski resort on the slopes of Mount Hermon features a wide range of ski trails and activities. Several restaurants are located in the area. TheLake Ram crater lake is nearby.

File:Hot springs in Hamat Gader.jpg

Hamat Gader hot springs

  • Hamat Gader

Hamat Gader is site of natural hot mineral springs with temperatures reaching 50°C. Hamat Gader was already used for recreation and healing purposes during Roman times. The site includes a Roman theatre, which was built in the 3rd century CE and contained 2,000 seats. A large synagogue was built in the 5th century CE.

  • Hippos

Hippos is an ancient Greco-Roman city, known in Jewish Aramaic as Susita. The archaeological site includes excavations of the city’s forum, the small imperial cult temple, a large Hellenistic temple compound, the Roman city gates, and two Byzantine churches.

Wineries

On a visit to Israel and the Golan Heights in 1972, Cornelius Ough, a professor of viticulture and oenology at the University of California, Davis, pronounced conditions in the Golan very suitable for the cultivation of wine grapes. The first vines were planted in 1976.

 

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Golan Heights”

  1. tenefe…

    […]Golan Heights « 2eyeswatching[…]…

  2. I think this is among the most important info for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: