Stories from the field
Occupied Golan: stories of separation

Israel's occupation of the Golan severely restricts the ability of its Arab residents to go about their daily lives. In addition, many have relatives across the demarcation line in Syria that they have not seen for years.

Haniya Saleem Bader Eldeen Shams is 59 years old. She has lived in the occupied Golan since 1968 when she came to be married. Her son, Youseef Hussein Shams, explains that his mother's family live on the other side of the demarcation line.


"She used to be as healthy as a horse," he says, "but since 2003 she has suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalized three times. She is always in tears, sad and depressed."

During a one week trip to Jordan in 2003 was the last time Haniya saw her family. On the last day of the visit, her older brother died of a heart attack but because his body was taken HOME to Syria, Haniya was unable to attend the funeral. Her son says this experience broke her health. Earlier, she had been able to spend one month with her family in Syria in 1990 as part of the ICRC's family visit programme but this was suspended by the Israeli authorities in 1992. Yousef spends around 50 dollars a week on a twenty-minute phone call that allows his mother to talk to her family. "It's expensive," he says "but after she fell sick, I do what I can to help her." "When she came here, she left her family behind. She did not see them or their children as they grew up. She missed that sense of family. If the family visits were restored, it would compensate for some of those moments and heal some of the injuries."

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 THE GOLAN HEIGHTS

 

 

"the Resistance in the Golan is a popular decision and emerges once the State is to renounce the policy of liberating the land."

 

From H.E President Al-Assad's  interview with Al-Mayadeen TV ,October 21,2013.

 

"It is not about winning or losing in territorial terms. We are not two states, one controlling an area belonging to the other, asin the case with Israel, which occupies our Golan Heights. This is about terrorism, which should be eliminated. When we liberate a certain area, as we have done in many areas of Syria, it doesn’t mean that we are winning, because the terrorists withdraw to another area and destroy it. That’s why we are also concerned about our citizens’ security. It is also important for us to win the support of our population: we win with their support and vice versa."

 

From H.E. President Al-Assad’s interview with the German Der Spiegel News MagazineOctober,7,2013.

 

 

 

"Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion. It occupies other people’s land and kills the people surrounding it. It has killed numerous Palestinians for over six decades. It killed numerous Lebanese and many Egyptians, Syrians and others using assassinations, bombing, terrorism and other methods. Today it plays the same role by supporting the terrorists directly in the areas adjacent to the Syrian front, i.e. near the occupied Golan, where it provides them with logistic and medical support and also with information, weapons and ammunition."

 

From H.E. President Al-Assad's Interview with TeleSUR TV, September 26, 2013

 

"In fact, there is clear popular pressure to open the Golan front to resistance. This enthusiasm is also on the Arab level; we have received many Arab delegations wanting to know how young people might be enrolled to come and fight Israel. Of course, resistance is not easy. It is not merely a question of opening the front geographically. It is a political, ideological, and social issue, with the net result being military action."

 

From H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad ‘s Interview with Al-Manar Tv, May 30,2013.

 

 

 

"Syria's belief in just and comprehensive peace doesn't mean relinquishing a speck of soil or a drop of water, affirming that the Syrian Arab Golan will remain Arab and Syrian and will return to the homeland Syria."

 

From H.E President Al-Assad's  Army Day Speech, (August 1, 2011)

 

  

 

 

"Anyone who thinks that Syria may negotiate on its occupied land, he/she is mistaken because liberating the Golan is a right that resides in the hearts of the Syrians as people, army and leadership.''

 

 From H.E.'s Army Day Word(August 1, 2010)

 

 

 

  ''The Resistance against occupation is but the national duty; and the support for the Resistance is the legitimate and moral duty. Supporting the Resistance is but the honour in which we take pride. This never negates our firm desire for the realization of the Just and Comprehensive Peace on the basis of the return of the occupied territories, on top of which comes the occupied Syrian Golan. But the failure of negotiations in restoring the full rights means automatically the Resistance solutions as an alternative solution,''

 

 From His Excellency's Speech at COMCEC Istanbul Summit, (November 9, 2009)

 

 

 "The Syrian Arab Golan is to ever remain Arab in the hand, face, and tongue; Syrian in air, water, Land, and Man, and is to fully return to the bosom of the Motherland.”

 

   From His Excellency's  speech on the 64th Anniversary of the Syrian Arab Army Foundation Day, (August 1, 2009)

 

 


 

 “I have explained to President Aliyev the theme of stability in the Middle East, which passes through the process of peace, which has passed through different experiences, but remained moving from failure to another, since its start in 1991, due to the Israeli intransigency and rejection to abide by the International Legitimacy Resolutions , which affirm the return of all the rights, on top of which the Occupied Territories to their owners, and, for us in Syria, of course, on top of which is the Occupied Golan.”

 

 From His Excellency’s Azerbaijan visit Press Statements, (July 8, 2009)

 

 

  “We have discussed the process of peace in the Middle East; viewpoints were identical regarding the necessity for the realization of the just and comprehensive peace, based on the international legitimacy resolutions, which stipulate the inadmissibility of the continued Israeli occupation of the Arab Territories, on top of which is the occupied Syrian Golan.”

 

  From His Excellency’s Press Statements during President Papoulias of Greece  Visit, (June 24, 2009)

 

 “Syria is committed to the peace as much as it is committed to the occupied Syrian Territories, the Golan,” 

 

From His Excellency’s Statements during Turkish President Visit, (May 15, 2009)

 

 “Our commitment to the Golan is closely linked to our stance by the full return of the Palestinian rights and territories, including Jerusalem and the return of the refugees to their homeland.”

 

 From His Excellency’s Statements during Turkish President Visit, (May 15, 2009) 

 

“The Golan Heights is our land, our right, and must return by all accounts,”

 

 From His Excellency’s Statements during Austria visit, (April 27, 2009) 

 

 

“First of all, we do not relate, as I said, our policy to what is happening in Israel. So, we do not pin any hopes on this government. But if any government says they are ready to give back the Golan Heights, that is good and we can move forward. We do not have hope but there is nothing that is a hundred percent accurate in politics. You may have surprises and if you have a surprise it is good but sometimes we do not see this surprise.”

 

 From His Excellency’s Interview with the Austrian Der Standard, (April, 18, 2009) 

 

“We do not have conditions. It is our land and there is a difference between conditions and rights. We have rights; we do not have conditions. Golan is not a condition; it is a right. So, we should be very precise because when they say they are ready to resume the negotiations only without pre-conditions, they mean the land. Whereas, the land is not a condition; it is a right. The only condition is to be committed to the international conditions. The international conditions are Security Council Resolutions; these are international conditions, not Syrian conditions.”

 

 From His Excellency’s Interview with the Austrian Der Standard, (April, 18, 2009)

 

 

 

“So, it was about probing and this was based on the issue of the Golan Heights, the line of 1967. We gave the Turks a map on which there are a few points on that line and the Israelis were supposed to agree upon those points. Of course, as we heard from Prime Minister Erdoğan, Olmert was ready to give back the whole Golan Heights and this means there should be no problem in those points.”

 

  From His Excellency’s Interview with the Austrian Der Standard, (April, 18, 2009)

 

 “We are a state with a structure of Army and Economy, and where every thing is meant for the liberation. The day will definitely come when the Golan would be liberated, whether through peace or war,”

 

 From His Excellency the Qatari Al-Sharq Daily Interview, (April 1, 2009)

 

“The course of events during the latest few years has proved that the realization of peace is the vital interest for all. The basics for the process of peace are quite clear; that is the return of the Land on the bases of Madrid Terms of Reference, the principle of the Land for the Peace, Resolution 242, and the return of the Golan: the full return of the Land is the Principle not to be discussed.”

 

 From His Excellency Al-Khaleej Newspaper Interview, (March 9, 2009)

 

 

 

“We do not recognize Israel and Israel is still our enemy -- it occupies part of our country, the Golan Heights. If the Israelis withdraw from Golan, we will recognize them. First comes peace, then recognition -- not the other way around.”

 

 From His Excellency Der Spiegel Interview, (January 19, 2009)

 

  

 

Will the new prime minister be in favor of negotiations on the basis that we have previously agreed on and which stipulate the full return of the Golan Heights, or will there be new conditions for these negotiations? When a new premier is elected we will see.”

 

  From His Excellency Monday Morning Interview, (September 30, 2008) 

 

  “The return of the occupied Golan Heights remains the question of top priority for Syria.”

 

  From His Excellency Interview with the Russian Itar Tass  (August 20-21, 2008)

 

  “First of all, as you said, Syrian land is occupied by Israel so they have to give us back our land. We don't have something to give but we have something to achieve together, which is peace. It is not something we have. So, if both sides achieve a certain treaty, including giving back the Golan Heights, this means achieving peace. 

 

From His Excellency Indian Daily, the Hindu Interview (June 12th, 2008)

 

 “Erdogan- the Turkish Premier has informed me of the Israeli willingness to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace with Syria.”

 

  From His Excellency Interview given to the Qatari ‘Al-Wtan’ Daily  (April 27th 2008)

 

 “Olmert would present to the Turkish mediator: Erdogan- the Turkish Premier that he was prepared to return the Golan. If Olmert was not prepared to return the Golan, there is no need to talk about this topic.” 

 

 From His Excellency Interview given to the Qatari ‘Al-Wtan’ Daily  (April 27th 2008)

 

  “The peace is never to be realized but with the return of the Golan in full to the line of June 4 1967. The Israeli procrastination would never bring them better conditions and would never make us surrender a span of our land nor a right. Whatever  concessions they have failed to take from Syria in the past would never get in a later stage. Betting on the factor of time as to negate the rights through the passage of time or by oblivion , as proved, is futile; hence the time has given birth to generations more committed to the Land and resistance.”

 

  From His Excellency Opening  Speech of  20th Arab Summit  (March29th 2008)

 

 

 

 “The most of the dangers facing the region is perhaps the absence of will by some parties for the peace which would lead into the realization of stability and prosperity. The resolutions of the international legitimacy and the principle of the land for the peace can only lead to the aspired peace as a de facto guaranteeing the return of the Syrian Arab Golan in full to the lines of June 4 1967.”

From H. E. Press Statements in Turkey ( October 17, 2007)
" we are not certain of the conference seriousness; this seriousness is linked to the conference Terms of Reference: the basics upon which to be based; whether upon the mood of those who called for the conference! Or to be based upon certain basics like the resolutions of the International Legitimacy: on top of which are 242 and 338 Resolutions and other resolutions. Syria always speaks of the just and comprehensive peace: the comprehensive peace which includes all tracks. This conference is to deal with the Palestinian track; this is good and we will be happy that there is a conference for the Palestinians; but what is our role? We were to go when the objective and the basic is to be the just and comprehensive peace; that is to include the cause of the Golan. We can not only talk about the Palestinian track. The Syrian track is a basic one; and the cause of the Golan is second to none. This Cause is not presented. There is another thing related to seriousness: Were the concerned countries of the Arab Israeli conflict consulted? However, we have not yet received an invitation to attend the said conference; if we were to receive an invitation, these are the conditions of Syria as to attend the international conference."
From H. E. ’s Al Shirouq Daily Interview ( October 11, 2007)


“The strife that has been going on for six decades now in the region is not about personal matters to admire or respect me. It is about rights; we have our land – the Golan Heights – which is occupied and it has to go back. This is the only way to achieve peace and it is not by label or mantra or by just saying that they want peace. They have to work for peace and this attack is in the other direction.”

“But it is not about the Palestinians and Palestinian territory; it is about the Syrian occupied territory, the Golan Heights. So, if they do not talk about the Syrian occupied territory, there will be no way for Syria to go there.”

From H. E. ’s BBC Interview ( October 1, 2007)
“Syria, which has shouldered the national responsibility, hoisted the banner of struggle and steadfastness, defended the rights, and chosen the course of the dignified life, is to remain ever loyal to her stances, firm to her basics, and determined as to restore every inch of her occupied land; hence the land is the issue of sovereignty, dignity, and rights, which are never to be subject for compromise nor abandoning.”
From H. E. ’s Word to the Syrian Army and Armed Forces, (August 1, 2007)

 

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 "We Want the Mediterranean to be a sea of peace and friendship where seagulls fly, ships of amity sail not warplanes of killing and destruction,’’ Late President Hafez Assad, Lattakia, 1987,

 President Hafez Assad’s Addiction to Just Peace 

" Our will for peace is boosted by determination on the liberation, restoration of rights and on safeguarding national dignity. It was our keenness on the peace process as well as on securing security and stability in the region which, time and again, motivated us to keep on announcing our preparedness to resume peace negotiations from where they broke off and on the basis of acknowledging what the previous two Israeli Premiers committed themselves to and on the same bases of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the principle of land for peace,"

His Excellency has ever called for the establishment of a just balanced New World order in which" Neither the strong control others with their strength nor the weak are weakened by their weakness."

An Extract from the late President’s Speech at the inauguration of the third Legislative Term of the People’s Assembly on November 16, 1981

"Israel has wrought havoc in the occupied territories, oppressing our people and turning their lives into hell. But our people are putting up heroic resistance to this aggression. They are standing unarmed in the face of the occupying oppressors, confirming everyday all over the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan that they are holding firm to their own rights

and those of their peoples and nations, and that they will keep on resisting the occupation until it is eliminated. We assure our people in the occupied territory, as we have previously done, that we will strive together until they rejoin us and we reunite with them.""

An Extract from The President’s interview granted to the British Daily "The Observer" on March 2, 1982

Question:

In the Golan Cause, Mr. President, you have won a victory in the UN, but this, in my opinion, will not help you regain the region, what is your next step, on the Syrian, Arab and international levels?

Late President’s Answer:

"Our battle with Israel, as it has been commonly known to every one now, is a long one. The Golan occupation, annexation or liberation is but a step in the long battle. We don’t doubt for a moment that we will regain our rights, regardless of how long it takes, because aggression everywhere in the world is destined to retreat and fail. We are rightful in our position, and we have been attacked. We have prove and moral potentials which , if well used and managed by us, will enable us in the long run to fully regain our rights."

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