•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle


Israeli occupation of Syrian lands

Published Aug 24, 2006 9:58 PM

The June 1967 Arab-Israeli War resulted in a vast expansion of the areas encompassed by the Zionist colonial enterprise known as the so-called State of Israel. Parts of Egypt, Syria and additional Palestinian lands came under military occupation.

The Egyptian lands—the Sinai Penin sula including the Abu Rodeis oil fields—were returned in 1982 following a 1979 U.S.-brokered peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Syrian and Palestinian lands remain under occupation 39 years later, although the Zionists have been forced into partial retreats, at great cost and sacrifice, from the Syrian city of Quneitra in May 1974 and from the Gaza region of Palestine in September 2005.

Occupied Syria lies in the southwestern part of the country, in the province of Quneitra. It includes the western part of the Golan Heights plateau with its apples the size of grapefruits, the southern and eastern slopes of the beautiful 9,200 foot Mount Hermon, and the stunning shoreline along Lake Tiberius.

The area seized by the Zionists had a population before June 1967 of around 148,000, including 9,000 Palestinians who had fled from northern Palestine in 1948.They lived in 139 villages and two towns.

Within a few days after the occupation began the population dropped to around 6,500, as the result of mass expulsion and wartime flight. Those who fled have not been allowed to return. As with Palestine, “the right of return” is a just demand and not negotiable. Also, the Syrian people have the right to end the occupation by any means they think is necessary.

The provincial capital, also called Quneitra, was totally bulldozed except for a movie theater. It had had a population of 25,000. Only five villages, all located in the northern Golan Heights, remained populated. The others were also bulldozed. Many of the stone fences that marked pastures, orchards and wheat fields in this rich agricultural area remain.

In many ways the occupation of Syria parallels the occupation of Palestine. Right behind the Israeli Defense Forces came the Zionist settlers. Today there are over 18,000 settlers living in the Golan Heights in 41 settlements. Some of the settlements are built over the sites of destroyed Syrian villages. The names of geographical features have been changed from Arabic to Hebrew. Aquifers and rivers are under complete Israeli control, with large amounts of water diverted to the settlements.

The population of Syrians who were able to stay has today grown to 25,000. They remain steadfast in their resistance to the occupation. On Dec. 14, 1981, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) annexed the occupied Syrian lands and demanded that the population accept Israeli ID cards. The Syrians refused—and on Feb. 14, 1982, launched a successful 157-day general strike that forced the Zionists to retreat. Every year since on Feb. 14, the anniversary of this historic strike is commemorated.

Other than the recent feature film “The Syrian Bride,” the continued illegal occupation of part of Syria has received little attention from the media or even from the international anti-war and progressive solidarity movements. It is time for this to change.

The writer who is also anti-Zionist served in the Israeli Defense Forces and took part in ground operations in the Golan Heights during the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War.