Golan Heights

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Golan Heights:



Why in News:

  • No country in the world recognizes Israel’s rule over the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967 and unilaterally annexed in 1981 – no country, that is, until now.
  • Recently, President of the United State, Mr, Donald trump proclaimed Israel’s sovereignty over occupied Syrian land.  


Geographic Location:

  • Golan Heights, also called Golan Plateau, Arabic Al-Jawlān, hilly area overlooking the upper Jordan River valley on the west.
  • The area was part of extreme southwestern Syria until 1967, when it came under Israeli military occupation, and in December 1981 Israel unilaterally annexed the part of the Golan it held.
  • The area’s name is from the biblical city of refuge Golan in Bashan



  • Some fifty thousand people live in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights, about half of them are Druze.
  • There are more than 30 Jewish settlements on the heights, with an estimated 20,000 settlers.
  • There are some 20,000 Syrians in the area, most of them members of the Druze sect.
  • Druze people are the remnants of the Syrian population forcibly displaced in 1967 or their descendants.


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US recognition:

  • US President Donald Trump’s tweet marked a reversal of half decade US policy, which has refused to condone the Israeli occupation of Golan, and urged that the dispute must be resolved diplomatically.
  • Trump made new U.S. policy, with a tweet recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights on the border with Syria.
  • It gives a formal US stamp of approval to Israel’s violation of international law, and, in particular of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilians into occupied territory. 
  • Mr. Trump has earlier recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv, and stopped aid to Palestinian refugees.
  • Last year, the US voted against a ritual annual UN resolution condemning Israel’s continued seizure of the Golan Heights.


Importance of Golan Heights:

  • The Golan Heights is a strategic high ground at the southwestern corner of Syria.
  • The Golan Heights’ high altitude provides it with observation points deep into Syria, with which Israel has never formally made peace. 
  • Israel’s motives in the Golan are clear; the region is invaluable for its natural resources and strategic military plateau.
  • Additionally, Israel has, in violation of international law, established 34 settlements and at least 167 settlement businesses in the Golan. 


Military Importance:

  • The seven-hundred-square-mile Golan Heights overlooks Israel to its west, Lebanon to its north, Syria to its east, and Jordan to its south.
  • During Six Day War, Syrian forces on the Golan Heights shelled Israeli farms in the Hula Valley below, and Israeli forces captured the territory from them following the Israeli seizure of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.
  • Southern Syria and the capital Damascus, about 60 km (40 miles) north, are clearly visible from the top of the Heights while Syrian artillery regularly shelled the whole of northern Israel from 1948 to 1967 when Syria controlled the Heights.


Buffer Zone:

  • Besides the military advantage of controlling high territory, Israel sought a buffer to ensure water security. At the edge of the Golan Heights is the freshwater Sea of Galilee.
  • The de facto border established in 1949 left Syrian forces at the water’s edge, and Syrian control of its tributaries spurred tensions leading up to the 1967 war.
  • In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli forces rebuffed Syria’s attempt to recapture the Golan Heights. A disengagement agreement the following year divided the region into three zones. Israel effectively retained control of two-thirds of the Golan Heights and Syria one-third.


Strategic significance:

  • Civil war in Syria since 2011 has given the Golan Heights new strategic significance for Israel.
  • As Assad has consolidated his control, with the help of Shia outfits in the region, Israelis now worry that Iran and its proxies could maintain a permanent foothold there.
  • Israeli forces in the Golan Heights have sought to both defend Israeli territory from militants fighting across the border and aid rebel groups fighting Iran-backed forces.





  • UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) was established in 1974 to supervise the implementation of the Agreement on Disengagement and maintain the ceasefire with an area of separation known as the UNDOF Zone.
  • A UN peacekeeping force continues to monitor the cease-fire agreement’s implementation, patrolling a narrow buffer between them.




  • Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the move, calling it a “direct violation of UN decisions.”
  • They highlighted that changing the status of the Golan Heights bypassing the Security Council is in direct violation of UN decisions.
  • The Syrian government said in a statement it is now more intent on liberating the Golan, “using every possible means.”
  • The announcement was the latest in a series of steps under the Trump administration that have reshaped the United States role in conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors, to the benefit of Israel’s right-wing government.



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This Pendrive Contains all syllabus for GS (Prelim & Mains) Foundation Course