During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel seized and occupied 1,250 km2 of the Syrian Golan, forcing over 130,000 native Syrian inhabitants from their homes. As a result of the mass forcible eviction it is estimated that there are as many as half a million displaced native Syrian Golan exiles currently being denied their right to return by the Israeli authorities. Those who had become internally displaced initially took residence in refugee camps, mostly located on the outskirts of Damascus. These camps eventually became their homes.
Following the forced evictions of almost all of the native Syrian population, the Occupied Syrian Golan has been transformed from a thriving Syrian Arab community, based on agriculture and labour, to an area dominated by Israeli settlements and military training camps. Furthermore, it has resulted in family separation, creating an insurmountable amount of heartache for those affected. After a number of years an application process for permits to visit Syria was introduced. However, this process proved to be discriminatory and unpredictable: only selective categories of ‘religious Druze men’, ‘students’, ‘non-Druze men over 35’, ‘women over 70’ and ‘apples’ were eligible to cross the ceasefire line. Even then those considered eligible were not guaranteed passage. The current conflict in Syria has only further exasperated the problem.
The population transfer, family separation land expropriation that have taken place in the Occupied Syrian Golan contravene both international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
For a preliminary background on the forced transfer of the native Syrian population in the Occupied Syrian Golan following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, please see Al-Marsad’s publication – ‘Ownership to Occupation: The Forced Evictions and Internal Displacement of the People of the Syrian Golan’, available below, along with other relevant publications.