Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Golan Heights-From Biblical Times to Today. Part I

The Golan Heights-From Biblical Times to Today.- compiled by Aharon Moshe (Stephen) Sanders project began on May 31, 2011 38 years from the Historic Conquest of the Golan Heights by Israel on May 31, 1973.
A compilation from referenced web sources:


In Biblical times, the Golan Heights was referred to as "Bashan;" the word "Golan" apparently derives from the biblical city of "Golan in Bashan," (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27). The area was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh (Joshua 13:29-31). In early First Temple times (953-586 BCE), the area was contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based on Damascus. King Ahab of Israel (reigned c. 874-852 BCE) defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan (I Kings 20:26-30), and the prophet Elisha prophesied that King Jehoash of Israel (reigned c. 801-785 BCE) would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik (11 Kings 13:17). In the late 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the region was settled by returning Jewish exiles from Babylonia (modern Iraq).
In the mid 2nd century BCE, Judah Maccabee and his brothers came to the aid of the local Jewish communities when the latter came under attack from their non-Jewish neighbors (I Maccabees 5). Judah Maccabee's grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai (reigned 103-76 BCE) later added the Heights to his kingdom. The Greeks referred to the area as "Gaulanitis", a term also adopted by the Romans, which led to the current application of the word "Golan" for the entire area. Gamla became the Golan's chief city and was the area's last Jewish stronghold to resist the Romans during the Great Revolt, falling in the year 67 (see Josephus, The Jewish War, Chap. 13, Penguin edition). Despite the failure of the revolt, Jewish communities on the Heights continued, and even flourished; the remains of no less than 25 synagogues from the period between the revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. (Several Byzantine monasteries from this period have also been excavated on the Heights.) 

Jewish Virtual

Golan Heights from WWI WWII and moving into 1967:

Throughout its history, Israel's relations with its northern neighbor, Syria, have been contentious. The early history between the countries was marked by constant attacks on Israeli civilians by Syrian positions on the Golan Heights. Through two wars, in 1967 and 1973, Israel captured and then retained possession of the strategic mountain range. Although the border has been quiet for nearly three decades, relations between the countries remain cold as Syria has yet to formally recognize Israel. Israel has made several attempts to achieve peace over the years, but negotiations consistently failed.

Timeline: Syria

A chronology of key events:
1918 1 October - Arab troops led by Emir Feisal, and supported by British forces, capture Damascus, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule.

Damascus: Syria's capital has a long history
64 BC: Conquered by Romans
635 AD: Conquered by Muslim Arabs
1516: Becomes Ottoman outpost
1919: Becomes capital of Syria

In pictures: Your Damascus
1919 - Emir Feisal backs Arab self-rule at the Versailles peace conference, following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
1919 June - Elections for a Syrian National Congress are held. The new assembly includes delegates from Palestine.
1920 8 March - The National Congress proclaims Emir Feisal king of Syria "in its natural boundaries" from the Taurus mountains in Turkey to the Sinai desert in Egypt.

French control
1920 June - San Remo conference splits up Feisal's newly-created Arab kingdom by placing Syria-Lebanon under a French mandate, and Palestine under British control.
1920 July - French forces occupy Damascus, forcing Feisal to flee abroad.
1920 August - France proclaims a new state of Greater Lebanon.
1922 - Syria is divided into three autonomous regions by the French, with separate areas for the Alawis on the coast and the Druze in the south.

1925-6 - Nationalist agitation against French rule develops into a national uprising. French forces bombard Damascus.
1928 - Elections held for a constituent assembly, which drafts a constitution for Syria. French High Commissioner rejects the proposals, sparking nationalist protests.
Great Mosque in Damascus
Great Mosque in Damascus, earliest surviving stone mosque
1936 - France agrees to Syrian independence in principle but signs an agreement maintaining French military and economic dominance.
1940 - World War II: Syria comes under the control of the Axis powers after France falls to German forces.
1941 - British and Free French troops occupy Syria. General De Gaulle promises to end the French mandate.
1945 - Protests over the slow pace of French withdrawal.
1946 - Last French troops leave Syria



Ceasefire line
Since the 1949 Armistice Agreements, relations between Israel and Syria have been characterized by periods of hostility; ceasefire talks, sometimes through intermediaries; and disengagement agreements, such as the 1974 Israeli-Syrian disengagement agreement. In 1949, an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty was negotiated with the short-lived Syrian government of Husni al-Za'im.

Prior to the 1967 Six Day War, intermittent hostilities centered on the Demilitarized Zones, water issues and shelling and infiltration from the Golan Heights. Since the war, the focus of negotiations has been "land for peace," in particular a demand that Israel return the Golan Heights to Syria along with Syrian recognition of Israel and establishment of peaceful relations with it, as stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 242.


On 6 October 1973, in a surprise joint attack, Egypt attacked Israeli forces on the Suez Canal and in theSinai while Syria attacked Israeli forces on the Golan Heights. The Israelis stopped the attacks and retook most of the lost ground. Israeli forces then pushed into Syria and Egypt.[5] Fighting continued until 22 October 1973, when United Nations Security Council Resolution 338 called for a ceasefire. Two days later, Israel and Egypt violated the ceasefire and resumed fighting, resulting inUnited Nations Security Council Resolution 339, which ended the war. The conflict is now known as the Yom Kippur War. The United Nations Emergency Force II moved into place between Israeli and Egyptian armies in the Suez Canal area, stabilizing the situation.
Resolution 339 primarily reaffirmed the terms outlined in Resolution 338 (itself based on Resolution 242). It required the forces of both sides to return to the position they held when the initial ceasefire came into effect, and a request from the United Nations Secretary-General to undertake measures toward the placement of observers to supervise the ceasefire.
Tension remained high on the Israel-Syria front, and from March 1974 the situation became increasingly unstable. The United States undertook a diplomatic initiative, which resulted in the signing of the "Agreement on Disengagement" (S/11302/Add.1, annexes I and II) between Israeli and Syrian forces.
 The Agreement provided for a buffer zone and for two equal areas of limitation of forces and armaments on both sides of the area. It also called for the establishment of a United Nations observer force to supervise its implementation. The Agreement was signed on 31 May 1974 and, on the same day, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 350 to set up the UNDOF and the UNDOF Zone.

 And yet, in the US-brokered Syrian-Israeli talks during the 1990s, Syria demanded that Israeli future withdrawal would be to the "June 4, 1967 Lines", namely west of the former British Mandate border with Syria[1]. Syria attempted to recover the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War, but was unsuccessful, only recovering a small part of it in the 1974 disengagement agreement, while committing to distance its armed forces further eastwards compared with their 1967-1973 positions.

The following is the opinion of the developer of this Blog, Aharon Moshe Sanders:

So that is what happened 38 years ago today, on May 31st 1974.

It seem pretty clear that in order to maintain the tense peace, that the Golan Heights must remain as it is. The people who live in the Mount Hermon area. the Druze are happen to be in this sort of buffer zone of the two nations. 

I personally have traveled into the area and other than seeing a number of men mounted on horses brandishing swords (they were statues) there really does not seem as if there is anything to be concerned about. Sometimes the complexity of something in this case the fragile peace in this area needs to be preserved (and not simplified) in order to maintain peaceful coexistence.    

The condensed history of the Golan Height from Biblical Times until today.- A historical compilation with a very brief comment by the compiler. AhMbDvd.

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