Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights are taking part in a general strike today in protest against Israel’s plans to install wind turbines on their agricultural land. The strike affects all facilities including schools, reports Syria’s SANA news agency.
The day of protest follows a meeting called by religious and social authorities among the largely Druze community. The Druze consider themselves to be Syrian citizens.
Protests were also held on Monday against restricted access to their lands and crops as Israeli forces blocked the main entrances to the remaining Druze villages in the Golan, namely Madjal Shams, Sahita, Baqatha and Masada. Al-Sham Centre in Majdal Shams called on people to “protect” the land and “defend us”.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) December 9, 2020
It was reported today in the Jerusalem Post that clashes broke out between the protestors and the police. Protestors threw rocks and the police responded by using riot dispersal equipment leaving four policemen and 10 residents injured. Eight protestors were arrested as construction continued uninterrupted.
According to Israeli sources, energy firm Energix Renewable Energy legally purchased the right to use the land from the owners and intends to develop a 32-turbine wind farm. However, it has been argued that the company obtained approval from the Israeli government and not the local population living under Israeli occupation.
In April the company was accused of exploiting the pandemic lockdown to speed up development of the project while Golan Syrians were housebound and unable to monitor or protest against the project. The firm is also attempting to sue Al-Marsad, the only human rights organisation in the Golan, under Israel’s “Anti-Boycott Act” in order to quell and dissuade the group and others from highlighting the plight of the Syrian population.
Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967, imposing Israeli laws, jurisdiction and administration on the territory in 1981. It fell short of formally annexing the land. However, in 2019, US President Donald Trump recognised the Golan Heights as part of Israel. According to international law, Israel is still the occupying power.