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Under cover of war, Israel expands its occupation of Syria

Israeli protesters at a Jerusalem Death to Arab rally [file photo]
Israeli protesters at a Jerusalem 'Death to Arabs' rally [file photo]

In many ways, the war in Syria has been a gift to Israel. For reasons quite similar to the US, the government in Tel Aviv has an interest in helping to prolong the war for as long as possible. Mostly crudely expressed by the poisonous anti-Muslim demagogue Daniel Pipes as “support whichever side is losing in the Syrian civil war,” this is a classic divide-and-rule imperial strategy.

The Syrian government is an oppressive state which abuses human-rights. It is also a state which is independent of US designs on the region, and often acts in downright opposition to them. The most obvious example of this is the government’s longstanding logistical support for the armed wing of the Hezbollah movement, the main force in Lebanon’s resistance to Israel. Hezbollah fighters are supporting the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in the war.

For this latter reason, both the US and Israeli governments are happy to let the fighting continue for as long as possible, since it means that Syria is less of a threat to the US and Israel’s regional dominance. A side benefit of all this for Israel has been to allow it to increase and further entrench its occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

This is a region of south-western Syria, which has been occupied illegally by Israel since the war of 1967. Although the Israeli occupation of Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip is fairly well understood by now, the occupation of the Golan Heights gets less attention.

In 1967, when Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, it also invaded Syria’s Golan Heights. More than 130,000 native Syrians living in the area were either transferred forcibly from their homes, or compelled to flee by the threat of the war. This represented most of the population of the territory.

Israel then set about destroying villages in the Golan. Within a month of the occupation, Israel began building settlements on the rubble; these were and are all illegal under international law. The Syrian inhabitants of those villages were forbidden by Israel from returning to their land. The situation in many respects is very much like Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, albeit on a smaller scale.

In 1981 – in defiance of international law and the UN – Israel annexed the Golan, designating it to be part of itself according to its own laws and practice. This is a move that it has not made in the West Bank and Gaza, because it would come under immense international pressure to grant the 4.5 million Palestinians in those occupied territories a vote in the Israeli parliament. This is something that Israel, the so-called “Jewish state”, will never countenance, unless it is compelled to do so by outside pressure.

Since then, Israel has increased its occupation of the Golan incrementally. During the current war in Syria, Israel has commenced exploratory drilling for oil in the territory. The parent company of Afek, which is carrying out the drilling, includes on its advisory board former US vice-president Dick Cheney, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Larry Summers, the former secretary of the US treasury.

Last week, it was reported in the Israeli press that Tel Aviv has authorised the construction of 1,600 new houses in the illegal settlement of Katzrin. According to Al-Marsad, a Syrian Arab human rights centre in the occupied Golan, the settlement is built over the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber.

Al-Marsad explains that “due to [Israel’s] discriminatory land, housing and development policies, Syrian residential areas [in the Golan Heights] are severely overcrowded. As a result of severe restrictions imposed by Israeli planning committees, it is close to impossible for the native Syrian population in the remaining Syrian villages in the occupied Syrian Golan to obtain building permits.” This reflects the situation in, for example, occupied Jerusalem, where Palestinians are rarely granted such permits. “As such,” says Al-Marsad, “the Syrian population is forced to build homes without building permits, as this is the only way to meet their housing needs. Consequently, Syrian home owners run the risk that their home could be destroyed: as was the case with Mr Bassam Ibrahim whose home in Syrian village, Majdal Shams, was demolished by the Israeli authorities last month. Currently, the Syrian owners of between 80-90 houses have been notified that their homes are also due to be demolished.”

The war in Syria remains a convenient cover for Israel’s occupation of this much-neglected region of Syria to continue unabated. Much like its occupation of Palestine, Israel’s occupation of Syria must come to an immediate end.

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ArticleAsia & AmericasInquiryIsraelMiddle EastOpinionSyriaUS
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  • Fasdunkle

    “In many ways, the war in Syria has been a gift to Israel”

    It has certainly been a gift to those who make a living from anti-Israel nonsense

    • Charlie Andreasson

      You are funny, my dear brother. As soon as there is criticism about Israels occupation and colonization you call it “anti-Israel”. As if Israels existence is dependent on those crimes. Relax, it will still be an Israel the day it redraws to the internationaly recognized borders.

      • Helen4Yemen

        Did the colonized Palestinians consent to have their land divided and
        given to foreign Jews from Europe? Who are these white Europeans
        on Arab land? Why are they in Palestine when they no more have
        excuses to go back to their lands in Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania
        and so on.

        • Mike Abramov

          This article is about Syria and the Golan Heights and not Palestine.

          • Helen4Yemen

            I have no interest to dialogue with one who resorts to insults – learn manners – bye!

          • Mike Abramov

            Helen – I find your depositions so amusing that I cannot resist putting you in your place. When you tell me you are no longer a racist, come back to me.

  • TRG-42

    Mossad was the mastermind behind the invasion of Syria, similarly to the operation Brush Fire, which aimed at ovetrhrowing Saddam Hussein by invasion of Iraq.

    • Mike Abramov

      Absolute BS. I do not know what planet you live on, but stop reading comic books and get in to the real world.

      • TRG-42

        Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad katsa outlines very well the operational patterns used by Mossad, very easy to recognize when they are involved. Mike, try reading something else in addition to Donald Duck, nevermind that this must be exceedingly demanding for you, taking into account your low IQ.

        • Mike Abramov

          Operational patterns? So, what country in the world plays by the rules. Hezbollah? Hamas? ISIL? Syria?….need i go on.

          I am a veteran at this game mate so you cannot intimidate me. Your type are the ones that walk away from me when I start a conversation with pro-Palestinians. Gutless.

          • TRG-42

            go ahead MF

          • TRG-42

            so, not playing by the rules means that ‘Mossad operation Brush Fire was about driving Iraq to chaos, creation of ISIS and using it to make false flag terror strike in Paris , for instance. All Mossad operations intended to incite islamophobia and hatred of Arabs in Europe.

          • Mike Abramov

            Idiot – you are in the Sates and I am in Europe.

        • Saeed Daoud

          CHECK OUT CHRISTOPHER BOLLYNN’S EXPOSE ON 9/11,ALL THE DIRT ON THE SHITRAELI’S

          • TRG-42

            Thanks Saeed, will check it out.

    • Helen4Yemen

      The Iraq war was all about Greater Israel
      Source: Haaretz – March 4, 2003

      “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them JEWISH, almost all of them intellectuals people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history a partial list:

      Richard Perle,
      Paul Wolfowitz,
      Douglas Feith,
      William Kristol,
      Eliot Abrams,
      Charles Krauthammer”

      • TRG-42

        Helen, right on coin, thanks. If you do not know Ostrovsky’s books, I highly recommend them both.

  • Mike Abramov

    When I first started reading this article, I thought that Asa Winstanley had suddenly become a reformed and open-minded man. It didn’t last. Despite his criticism of Syria and Hezbollah, in no time he is moaning that the Golan Heights.were acquired by the Israelis in 1967 (before he was born) and the Golan Heights is Syrian.

    I am sorry that Syrians were uprooted from the Glaln Heights, but Jews have had to put up with being uprooted for the last 1,500 years.

    The Golan Heights has been a strategic lookout for Hezbollah and the Syrian Army for years. It is now the look out for ISIL encroachment. Has anyone not noticed that ISIL keeps well away from the Israeli border but instead attacks the undermanned Kurds?

    • Saeed Daoud

      YOU CONSTANTLY EXPAND BORDERS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE NEW ENEMIES YOU JUST MADE BY TAKING THEIR LAND TO have a strategic lookout point ,fool – you cannot live peacefully so you will perish an unsustainable albatross on the people of the world ,whose artificial life support became untenable after leaching the lifeforce of it’s host!

      • Mike Abramov

        A very poetic reply.

        YOU CONSTANTLY EXPAND BORDERS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE NEW ENEMIES.

        Egypt was given back the whole of the Sinai Desert thanks to the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Egypt.

        There is an open border between Israel and Jordan.

        Gaza was given back to the Palestinians in 2005. They immediately blew up the synagogues.

        My friend, Israel does not want to spend 40% of it’s GDP on defense, but has to. What the Arabs want is the demolition of Israel in a great jihad. Then, another jihad will arise from the fight for power between the Sunni and Shi’ite. Allah U Akbar in your language.

        • Saeed Daoud

          so u want recognition for giving back sinai ,ok u get it,well done.Now if only you would do that with the inhabited areas that you took as well.We( palestinians,syrians,lebanese,bedouin of the are,jordanians etc..,may not get all the land back especially if you sue for peace( your best bargaining position is right now ,don’t you think .or will you try to take syria,lebanon whole), Me thinks the wolves you feed are insatiable unfortunately,but i can hope.)your lead by war pigs,every decision a calculated military one even giving back the sinai ( a large indefensible desert area for the most part,a brilliant military decision! Since you call me your friend then i must tell you My friend you may not ,but i can assure you the war pigs that head the military? weopons ” defence industry” do want war and” war without end “to quote dick cheney, cheney is one example of a powerful man that is only one of their whores in their service> isnt it obvious that they lead the west by the nose ” as chattel,no coincidence there eh!?) so now the new barbarians at your gate are the progeny of the last generation of wars that all mighty ‘ isntreal” spawned (do u disagree,yes all of them?}and the fight has never been about sunni -shia this is a moden political schism with different dynamics in each country { my god -the stereotyping that is created in a studio somewhere a couple years ago that is presented as if it always existed= 10 years ago the zionists where referring to a “:arab horde as the enemy probably because they couldn’t remember or differentiate who they fucked over and racism as all arabs are the same to a racist state” The war industry is nothing but a money laundering scheme of the rich, so we must free ourselves.unfortunately as an israeli,they’ve put you in a position that is indefensible without endless war! so ,my advise is to sue for peace now,while you still can. this is not a ploy as israel seems like it can hold out for awhile as it is .But at a GREAT cost to its character,people, trade, relations,freedoms, hopes of ever living peacefully and the entire world will suffer needlessly and you will become even more despised around the world and yes that is the pattern that we are currently witnessing. ‘ GOD IS GREAT,INDEED ,MY FRIEND and one other thing which should have come first SHALOM ALEIKUM.

    • Saeed Daoud

      YOU CONSTANTLY EXPAND BORDERS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE NEW ENEMIES YOU JUST MADE BY TAKING THEIR LAND TO have a strategic lookout point ,fool – you cannot live peacefully so you will perish an unsustainable albatross on the people of the world ,whose artificial life support became untenable after leaching the lifeforce of it’s host!

  • Beer Baron

    The leap of logic required to swallow this argument is staggering. It is truly nonsensical.

    So is Israel supposed to return the Golan Heights to HEZBOLLAH or ISIS?