The Syrian Golan..In pictures, the story of a plateau that Israel occupied in the 1960s and plans to fill with Jews until 2030
The Israeli government, headed by Naftali Bennett, approved – during its recent special session in the settlement of “Mavo Hama” in the occupied Syrian Golan – the plan that aims to double the number of Jews in the Golan until 2030, which reflects the consolidation of the occupation and the imposition of Israeli sovereignty on Syrian territory.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the godfather of settlements in the occupied West Bank, initiated the plan, in partnership with Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who believes in “Greater Israel.” The plan includes an initial budget of one billion dollars in order to attract 23,000 Jews to live in the Golan.
Reconstruction of the Golan.. Canaanite era
The Golan Heights lies to the south of the Yarmouk River, to the north of Jabal al-Sheikh, and to the east of the Hauran plains and the Damascus countryside, overlooking Lake Tiberias and the Hula meadow, west of Galilee. The city of Quneitra is the most important city in the plateau, which is 50 km to the west of Damascus.
– The history of the reconstruction of the Golan and the settlement of the population in it dates back to the Canaanite era, and it continued without interruption with the tidal movement of the population, until the displacement of its people from it in 1967 after its occupation.
– The original inhabitants of the Golan are the descendants of Arab tribes who practiced raising animals in the pastures of the Golan and outside, by applying the “Naja” system, with simple forms of rural settlement in the southern Golan.
– Since 1878: the plateau has been known for a more developed and stable construction during the Ottoman era, where thousands of displaced Circassians inhabited it in a number of locations, as well as Turkmen and Yoruk, in addition to the settlement of an increasing number of Bedouins in it, especially in the first half of the 20th century.
– Since 1948: the population has increased and urbanization has expanded in the Golan with the arrival of Palestinian refugee groups, and it has become an area of military confrontation with the Israeli occupation.
Distortion and blurring of facts
– June 9, 1967: The Israelis occupied it and the Syrian army regained part of it (684 square kilometers) in the October 1973 war, but the occupation later seized it.
– Israel has deliberately failed to document its occupation of two-thirds of the Syrian Golan Heights, which amounts to 1,800 square kilometers, in the war and has tried to distort and obscure the facts, especially the fact that the population there was approximately 138,000 people before the war.
– After the displacement, only 6,369 people remained of the Golan people. Israel described the displacement of the Golans as “left.” Today, the population of the Golan is about 27 thousand people, distributed among the 6 villages of Majdal Shams, Masada, Bqaata, Ain Qinya, Ghajar and Sehita.
– Israel has expelled the vast majority of the residents of the Golan, who lived in 131 villages and owned 112 farms, after 3 days of intense bombardment. The Israeli occupation did not count the number of Syrians who remained in the Golan until two months after the occupation, and the Syrians under occupation were subject to the military regime and curfew In their villages from evening until morning hours.
The residents who sought refuge during the battles in the fields and hills did not succeed in returning to their villages, as they were gathered and expelled beyond the ceasefire line, while military orders prohibited entry to 105 displaced villages, and declared all villages and farms whose owners and residents were expelled from them closed military areas and considered “abandoned villages and farms”.
The Israeli occupation established military points in the plateau, the most important of which is a military fortress in Jabal al-Sheikh at an altitude of 2,224 meters above sea level. It also established a military base in the southern Golan that provided it with a defensive depth, and became a source of threat to Damascus through the Quneitra-Damascus axis, as well as through the Hauran axes.
Settlement and robbery of the Golan’s resources
– July 14, 1967: The first settlement project began in Syrian territory, 5 weeks after the end of the war. A group of young kibbutzim residents went to an abandoned Syrian army camp in the destroyed village of Al-Alaika, and set up a work camp under the pretext of collecting herds of cows scattered throughout The plateau, which was established to establish the first settlement, “Merom Golan”, to be joined by 33 settlements, currently inhabited by 27,000.
March 1968: According to a military order, Israel seized control of the water sources in the Golan and uncovered about 100 water springs. It built 40 water complexes and an artificial pond in which to store about 100 million cubic meters of rainwater. The springs are used to irrigate the settlements’ crops, and they dug 7 wells. It uses it to extract groundwater, as the Golan provides Israel with 30% of its annual water consumption.
– The waters of the Golan have been transformed into the main artery in the life of Israel, which has exploited its resources, lands and groundwater to be a lever for its economy. About 500,000 dunams are used as pastures for raising cows and livestock, which provide approximately 50% of the meat for the Israeli market and about 20% of the demand for milk.
There are also 100,000 dunams that the settlements use to grow fruits, vegetables, grains and flowers, and the rest of the lands are classified as nature reserves used for military training.
– Until 1972: Israel tightened its control over the occupied Golan through military rule, and during this period 15 settlements were established.
October 1973: After the end of the “October War” between Egypt and Israel and the conclusion of a cease-fire agreement, the Israeli government established the “Regional Council for the Settlement of the Golan”, the first settlement council, and placed under its influence all the areas of the Golan with the exception of the lands of the six Arab towns.
1974: The occupation returned to Syria an area of 60 square kilometers, including the city of Quneitra and its vicinity, and the village of Rafid, within the framework of the disengagement agreement.
Entry to some areas adjacent to the armistice line is still prohibited, according to the instructions of the Syrian authorities, except with a special permit.
1976: Katzrin, the largest settlement in the Golan, was built.
December 1981: The Israeli Knesset decided unilaterally to annex the occupied part of the Golan, indifferent to the rejection of the Security Council and the international community.
agricultural and commercial settlement
For decades, Israel has not stopped efforts to exploit the lands it occupied, in order to consolidate the policies of annexation and consolidate its sovereignty over them, and to push towards this goal, it has given priority to developing industries based on natural resources in the occupied areas, because those industries directly take possession of the land.
The agricultural settlements in the Golan produce about $360 million annually, distributed over 700 agricultural establishments, employing about 1,300 workers, while the industrial sector of the Golan settlements produces $330 million, distributed among 28 factories and laboratories, comprising about 890 workers.
From the tourism sector, the Golan settlements produce $60 million, distributed among 227 tourist facilities that include resorts and guest houses, and employ 780 workers. One and a half million internal tourists visit the Golan annually, while from the commercial and services sector, the settlements produce about $62 million, distributed over 190 Commercial facility, employing 700 workers.
Oil and wind energy
2011: The Israeli government approved the production of a share of electricity, through wind energy, which it set for itself at 800 megawatts, and today it produces about 2.5% of Israel’s energy from renewable sources.
– This state of growing need and energy shortage has led to the generation of dozens of solar and wind energy project initiatives throughout Israel and the occupied Golan.
2016: Israel began searching for oil and gas in the Golan Heights, and there were investments by oil companies, funded by supporters of Israel in America, to explore for oil. Genie Energy.
The results of oil exploration operations in 3 sites comprising 10 wells indicated that the actual rate of oil production is low, and far from expectations of achieving oil self-sufficiency for Israel, despite this and the opposition expressed by associations concerned with environmental affairs, companies continue to explore.
– 2017: There were about 26 wind farm projects under development in the country and about half of these projects are in the Golan alone, where 11 plans were proposed to build about 200 wind turbines in the Golan in 3 turbine farms, which include the construction of more than 120 turbines over thousands The dunams of the lands of the six Syrian Arab villages that remained in the Golan.
doubling the settlement
– December 26, 2021: According to the settlement plan, the details of which were revealed in a special briefing to journalists presented by Prime Minister Bennett, the construction of 3,300 settlement units in Katzrin, the largest Israeli settlement in the Golan, as well as the construction of 4,000 housing units in the “Regional Settlement Council” The Golan.
Two new settlements will also be built in the Golan, “Asif” and “Matar”, where each settlement will contain two thousand housing units, in addition to the “Trump” settlement approved by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in June 2019, after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of sovereignty Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan, in line with the 1981 Knesset law that recognized the annexation of the Golan to Israeli sovereignty.
The plan accompanies the development of infrastructure projects and the road and transportation network in order to link 32 settlements in which 27,000 Jews live, provided that economic incentives are monitored and facilities are granted to attract Jews to settle in the Golan, and work to remove mines from thousands of dunams and change the plans of firing and training areas.
To attract Jews to settle in the Golan, the existing settlements will also be expanded by constructing new settlement neighborhoods, in addition to investing and developing projects related to education, tourism, hotels, technology and security, and other projects related to solar energy, and transforming the Golan Heights into a center for renewable energy technologies, with the creation of two thousand jobs and job opportunities.