Background

Israel occupied the Syrian Golan during the June 1967 war. The United Nations (UN) issued multiple international resolutions calling for the end of the occupation and a complete Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories, including the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan. However, Israel refuses to implement these resolutions, which reiterate the illegality of the occupation, thereby violating numerous UN treaties and endangering international peace and security. The Syrian Golan has remained under Israeli occupation for over 45 years.

The Syrian Golan is a region in southwest Syria that 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 the Israeli occupation, the Syrian Golan was home to over 140,000 Syrians, most of whom were driven out of their homeland, becoming either Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees. To this day, almost 40 years later, the native Syrian inhabitants of the Syrian 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 people. Most of the Syrian cities, towns and villages in the Syrian Golan were destroyed by Israeli occupation forces, who in turn have built over 40 illegal settlements, despite international condemnation and their illegality under international law. 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 Syrian Golan of its native inhabitants and their history.

In October 1973 during the October War, Syria attempted to liberate the Syrian 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 Syrian 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 up and looted by the Israelis,  just days before the Israeli withdrawal, as documented by the BBC and other news agencies. The city remains destroyed and is living proof of Israeli aggression towards civilians.

On December 14, 1981, Israel annexed the Occupied Syrian Golan. The international community responded with UN 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 UN 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 commenced at the Madrid Conference in which the return of the Occupied 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 UN 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 Occupied Syrian Golan. Syrians continue to wait for the illegal occupation of their land to end.

Additional background information about the occupation of the Syrian Golan is available below:

A brief overview of major issues affecting the native Syrian population at the current time is available below: