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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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