Israel is also changing the demographics of the Golan Heights
Replicating the model of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv aims to create a Jewish majority with illegal settlements on the occupied Golan Heights.
While Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza and the illegal deportations of Palestinians in East Jerusalem were in the media spotlight, there is another territory that Israel has illegally occupied and it is out of the sight of the media. since many decades.
The Golan Heights is part of Syria which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Its history is not much different from East Jerusalem or the West Bank.
Today, there are more than 30 Jewish settlements in the territory occupied by Israel, housing an estimated 20,000 Jewish settlers whose presence is illegal under international law.
This despite the fact that the Golan Heights is also home to some 25,000 Syrian Druze Arabs, who have already rejected Israeli citizenship in the hope that one day the region will be reintegrated into Syria.
But attracting settlers is no easy task. The area, surrounded by tall yellow grass and landmines, is next to the Syrian border but a half-hour drive from the nearest Israeli settlement. Despite the small agricultural activities, there is little or no industry.
As a result, Israeli officials aim to increase the number of Jewish settlers in the heights to establish a Jewish majority in the occupied territory.
Israeli Colonial Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced the construction of new settlements to house 300 Jewish families last year after President Trump officially recognized the strategic mountain plateau as Israeli territory in 2019.
Local leaders representing the settlements hope that with recognition of Israeli sovereignty, the region will attract investment as well as new settlers.
The mayor of the Katzrin settlement in the occupied Golan, Dmitry Apartzev, plans to outnumber the natural inhabitants of the heights.
Apartzev had previously said they aimed to increase the number of Jewish settlers to 100,000 in the occupied territory.
Israel captured the Golan Heights during the Six Day War along with armies from neighboring Egypt, Syria and Jordan and has occupied two-thirds of the strategically important territory since then. This decision has never been recognized by the international community.
Israeli officials believe the area belongs to Jews, as mentioned in sacred Jewish texts. But militarily, the area is strategically important.
The Golan Heights are over 300 meters above sea level and the highest mountain under Israeli occupation Hermon is located to the north, clearly overlooking Damascus, the Syrian capital.
The topography also provides a natural buffer against any military push from war-torn Syria.
Additionally, the region provides a third of Israel’s water supply from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. Previous peace talks collapsed after Israel refused Syria’s demand for a full Israeli withdrawal from the region in order to maintain control over major water sources.
Israel’s complete annexation of the Golan Heights has not been recognized by any international organization.
Source: TRT World