The Syrian Golan
The Syrian Golan is a region in southwest Syria which was occupied on June 5, 1967 by Israeli forces. The Golan's overall land mass is 1,860 square kilometers, which is approximately 1 percent of Syria's total area, about 1,500 square kilometers remains under Israeli occupation. Before this Israeli occupation, the Golan was home to over 140,000 Syrians, most of whom were driven out of their homeland and into Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) status. Till this day, almost 40 years later, the Syrian inhabitants of the Golan are still unable to return to their homes, towns and cities. Today these Syrians exceed 500,000 people. Some Syrians remained in the Occupied Syrian Golan and continue to live in small villages amounting to approximately 20,000 Syrians. Most of the Syrian cities, towns and villages in the Golan were destroyed by Israeli occupation forces, who in turn have built over 40 illegal settlements despite all international condemnation. Israel continues not only to occupy the Syrian Golan but to also destroy its ancient ruins and geopolitical atmosphere for the sole purpose of cleansing the Golan of its Syrian people and their history.
In October 1973 during the October War, Syria attempted to liberate its Golan from Israeli occupation. Syria succeeded after the disengagement agreements to regain a strip of territory that included the main city and capital of the Golan, Quneitra. When Quneitraian citizens returned to their liberated homes, they were traumatized and stunned to find that every home, building, Mosque and Church in the city had been deliberately demolished by Israeli bulldozers and dynamite. Even the city's graves had been dug and robbed by the Israelis, all just days before the Israeli withdrawal, as documented by the BBC and others. The city remains destroyed as living proof of Israeli aggression towards civilians. On December 14, 1981, Israel annexed, the Occupied Syrian Golan; the international community responded with Security Council Resolution 497 (1981), which unanimously called this move, “null and void” and not one country has legitimized it. Since then, every year the U.N. passes General Assembly resolution titled “The Occupied Syrian Golan” which reaffirms the illegality of the Israeli occupation and annexation.
In 1991, peace talks between Syria and Israel started at the Madrid Conference in which the return of the Syrian Golan was a central topic. However, negotiations came to a dead-end due to Israel 's refusal to withdraw completely from the Syrian Golan. To this day, Israel refuses to implement U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973); which call for the complete withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967, including the Occupied Syrian Golan; as well as Security Council Resolution 479 (1981), which confirms the illegality of Israel 's annexation of the Golan. Syrians continue to wait for the murderous and illegal occupation of their land to come to an end. Syrian diplomacy has launched many calls in order to resume peace talks. Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, has sent several messages in this regard. However, the provocative visit of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem , which sparked the 2000 Palestinian Uprising, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, along with Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and Lebanon in 2006 has widened the gap and complicated the picture.