Last updated on: 6/26/2008 2:12:00 PM PST

What and Where Is the Golan Heights?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
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 Galilee." 

2001 - Joseph Massad, PhD 

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in an article posted on its website Apr. 26, 2007, titled "Regions and Territories: The Golan Heights" wrote:

"Israel 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 the conflict. 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 recognised internationally. 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.

Strategic Importance

Overlooking 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."

Apr. 26, 2007 - British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)