Thursday, September 16, 2010

(INFO) Israel, Syria And The Golan Heights

What makes the Golan a strategic asset for Israel, and will conceding it lead to real peace with Syria? We’ve put together the facts so that you can explain the full picture, as it is quite complex...

The Golan Heights – a strategic asset and prosperous region
The IDF conquered the Golan Heights during the Six Day War in 1967, freeing Israel's north from the menace of the Syrian army that had moved into the area 19 years before. The Syrians built giant military bases from which they attacked the Galilee and Jordan Valley.

The Golan Heights reconnected this region with its Jewish heritage and the long history of Jewish settlers in the Golan. This history streches back from the days of Abraham to the period of the Twelve Tribes settling the land after leaving Egypt, to battles versus the Romans at Gamla, through Jewish settlement in the Talmudic era all the way to Baron Rothschild’s estates in the Golan’s east. During the last 40 years, the Golan Heights has become home to vibrant and diverse Israeli communities, 33 towns, a developed economy and it is a popular tourist destination. The Golan’s attractions range from the Mount Hermon ski resort to the hot springs resort at Hamat Gader, and in between are the streams, canyons, anceint ruins and views of the Sea of Galilee which characterize the region.

The Golan is a strategic asset, vital to Israel’s defense. It is home to thousands of Israeli families, criss-crossed by forests and hiking trails, and winter rains here provide Israel with a majority of her drinking water.

Redirecting the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee sources located in the Golan would bring devastation upon Israel
Water is an important part of the Golan Heights . Israel’s water experts and water commissioners have warned against withdrawing from the Golan as its water sources are vital to our survival:

  • Former Chairman of the Sea of Galilee Authority, Zvi Ortenberg, stated on May 2000: “The average water potential in Israel is 74,000 gallons per capita, compared with 500,000 gallons in Syria and an average 370,000 gallons in the Middle East. Diverting the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee tributaries will bring destruction upon Israel, without the need for military attacks. A Syrian attempt to divert the Yarmouk River helped trigger the Six Day War in 1967.”
  • Former Water Commissioner, Prof. Zaslavsky: “Municipal, industrial and agricultural sewage of hundreds of thousands Syrians would turn the Sea of Galilee into a polluted putrid lake. Poisoning the Sea of Galilee is simple and can be accomplished by polluting the Golan Heights.”
  • Former Water Commissioner, Gidon Zur: “Reducing water flow in the Sea of Galilee’s tributaries would damage the quality of the water in the Sea of Galilee, increase salinity and pollution and in turn increase coastline aquifer salinity” (February 14th 1996); “Diverting water from the Sea of Galilee would be a deadly blow to Israel”.

Some may ask why we conceded Sinai, but will not negotiate regarding the Golan? The answer lies in Israel’s basic defense capability, it is a matter of existential safety

  • The difference between Sinai and the Golan Heights is significant: Sinai’s strategic depth (22,000 square miles) provides Israel about 50 hours to call up military reserves. The Golan does not have a significant strategic depth (450 square miles) and therefore does not provide sufficient time to call up the reserves. Sinai is adjacent to the sparsely populated Negev, which is used as a major training ground for reserve forces, thus improving Israel’s defense capability in case of a surprise attack. In contrast, the Golan Heights is adjacent to the densely populated Galilee, which does not allow for military maneuvering. Sinai does not have a topographic advantage over the Negev, while the Golan has a clear topographic advantage over the Galilee.
  • Hezbollah’s leadership is based in Syria, the long arm of the Iranian regime which controls much of Lebanon, and has harrassed and attacked Israel continuously since 1982.
  • Israeli control of the Golan Heights, 37 miles from Damascus, limits the Syrians and requires the deployment of 7 brigades between the Golan and Damascus. The Heritage Foundation stated on February 4th 2000, that the Golan is an irreplaceable defensive asset for Israel.
  • Withdrawal from the Golan ridge would allow massive surprise attacks by Syrian forces sitting just miles away from the Galilee. The presence of artillery and armored forces along the Golan’s main ridge – 37 miles from Damascus – deters Syria from attacking.
  • The Yom Kippur War proved that the Golan Heights central ridge, from Mount Hermon, through Mount Hermonit, Mount Bental, Mount Avital, Mount Peres, all the way to the Rokad stream that sprawls along the current border with Syria – is critical to Israel’s defense. This ridge is a unique natural obstacle and allows a relatively small force to block a massive invasion of tanks, giving Israel the time it needs to call up reserves units. Therefore, even in the age of ballistic missiles, the Golan Heights territory is still vital.

Syrian education system: “the Zionist claim that there is such an entity as a Jewish people, with an independent national identity, is false”
The Syrian education system still clings to its ways of poisoning students against Israel, textbooks contain content that negate Zionism, the Jewish nation and its right to exist. The following information and examples explain that there are no guarantees that Syria is ready for peace, even if Israel were to withdraw from the Golan:

  • “The aggressiveness deeply rooted in the Jewish personality threatens Islamic and Arab existence. Logic and justice both demand one sentence – annihilation of the Jewish people” (Islamic Education, 10th grade, pages 115-116).
  • “The Zionist claim that a Jewish people exists, with an independent national identity, is false” (Islamic Education, 10th grade, pages 89-90).
  • “The Nazis hurt the Jews after the latter betrayed the German nation and joined the allies... and took over the economy and commerce...” (Pan-Arabic Socialist National Education, 10th grade, page 104).
  • “The Jews planned the killing, looting and annihilation of Muslims... this is the way of traitors...” (Islamic Education, 10th grade, page 115). “The Jews cooperate with pagans and heretics against Muslims. They know that Islam reveals their deceptive ways and other evil qualities...” (Islamic Education, 11th grade, page 33).

Peace treaties with Syria

  • Syria-Jordan treaty: Since 1953, Syria has been violating its treaty with Jordan regarding water supply from the Yarmouk River and stealing 50% of Jordan’s quota. Jordan claims that Syria not only steals but also damages the quality of the water. Damascus uses water as leverage against Amman.
  • Syria-Turkey treaty: In 1987, 1992 and 1993 Syria signed treaties with Turkey committing to stop support of the Kurd terrorist group PKK and to uproot PKK bases from Syria and Lebanon in return for water from the Euphrates River. Turkey has fulfilled its part of the treaty, Syria has not.
  • Syria-Iraq treaty: In 1975, Iraq was on the verge of invading Syria because of a Syrian violation of its agreement to supply water from the Euphrates River to Iraq. In 1979, the two countries were again on the verge of war because of a Syrian plot to assassinate Saddam Hussein.
  • Syria-Arab League treaties: Syria has violated Arab treaties a number of times by not withdrawing foreign forces from Lebanon (Arab summits in Riyadh, Fez and Ta’if in 1978, 1982 and 1989 respectively).
  • Syria-Israel: The 1967 cease fire treaty was violated by Syrian - in 1973. In 1975, Syria operated terrorist organizations attacked Israel while violating the 1974 Agreement of Disengagement. In 1977, Damascus violated the Red Line agreement, which limited the size of Syrian military forces deployed south of the Litani River. The aid they provide today to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad is a blatant violation of the agreement reached after Operation Accountability (1993) and all other treaties. (source)

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