Benny Morris, PhD, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in his book Righteous Victims, described the Golan Heights as follows:
"The Golan Heights, stretching from
Mount Hermon (9,000 feet) in the north to the Yarmuk River and the
border with Jordan in the south, is a plateau 13-20 miles wide at the
southwestern edge of Syria, traversed by a chain of volcanic hills
(tels) and studded with basalt boulders and outcrops. The northern half
of the heights rises gradually from the Jordan River basin, leveling
off into a plateau a few miles west of Quneitra. In the south, the rise
is steep and abrupt from the narrow plain surrounding the Sea of
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in an article posted on its website Apr. 26, 2007, titled "Regions and Territories: The Golan Heights" wrote:
seized the Golan Heights from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967
Six-Day War. Most of the Syrian Arab inhabitants fled the area during
An armistice line was established and the region came under Israeli
military control. Almost immediately Israel began to settle the Golan.
Syria tried to retake the Golan Heights during the 1973 Middle East
war. Despite inflicting heavy losses on Israeli forces, the surprise
assault was thwarted. Both countries signed an armistice in 1974 and a
UN observer force has been in place on the ceasefire line since 1974.
Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. The move was not
There are more than 30 Jewish settlements on the heights, with about
17,000 settlers. There are some 20,000 Syrians in the area, most of
them members of the Druze sect.
northern Israel and southern Syria, the heights give Israel an
excellent vantage point for monitoring Syrian movements. The topography
provides a natural buffer against any military thrust from Syria. The
area is also a key source of water for an arid region. Rainwater from
the Golan's catchment feeds into the Jordan River. The area provides a
third of Israel's water supply.
The land is fertile, with the volcanic soil being used to cultivate
vineyards and orchards and to raise cattle. The Golan is also home to
Israel's only ski resort."