The Golan Heights is a region in southwestern Syria, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of June 1967. The area of the Golan Heights is about 1250 sq km (about 483 sq mi).
Prior to 1967 the Golan Heights was home to approximately 100,000 Syrians. When Israel invaded the region in 1967, most of the Syrian population were forced to leave. Today, their number exceeds 500,000. They are still not allowed to go back to the homes and lands they left 36 years ago.
Several thousand Syrians remained in the Golan in 1967, however. Today, only 16,000 Syrians live in a small number of villages. Most of the villages that existed before 1967 were deliberately destroyed by the Israelis. Israel has also built 32 illegal settlements in the Golan despite international condemnation.
Syria tried to recapture the area in October 1973, when Syrian and Egyptian armies attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Syria regained a strip of territory that included the main city of Quneitra in the disengagement agreements signed following the war. Since that time, a buffer zone between the Syrian and Israeli armies has been patrolled by UN forces.
When Syrians entered liberated Quneitra, they were shocked to find that every single building in the city was destroyed by the Israelis. Ruins of the city still stand today as a witness of Isaeli aggression.
In 1981 Israel annexed the Golan Heights by extending Israeli civil law to the region. This step was met with Syrian, Arab and international condemnation. Israel's annexation of the Heights was not recognized by any nation in the world.
The Heights are the main topic in the Syrian- Israeli peace talks started in 1991. The talks were stalled for a long time because of Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the Golan. The Israeli government still refuses to implement Un resolutions 242 and 338, which call for complete withdrawal from occupied Arab territories and resolution 479 which confirms the illegality of Israel's annexation of the Golan.
Pictures from the Frontlines
A photo gallery from the liberated part of the Golan
Golan Heights: A History of Israeli agression
(Sheldon L. Richman)
The Reality of Israeli Occupation of the Golan
The Golan Displaced
Whatever Happened to the Golan Heights?
Golan Town Tells Tale of War