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Tuesday, February 27, 2007 

The Golan border opens - but only for apples

It's that time again. The border between Syria and the Israeli Occupied Syrian Golan Heights has opened for the third year in a row. Syrian Druze farmers living in the occupied land are allowed to 'export' some of their apples into Syria.

One of my first blog posts ever was about the historic opening of the border in February 2005. SInce then it has become almost a tradition.

It is the only contact Syria and Israel have.

At 9am, a Red Cross lorry drives from Syria into the Occupied Territory. It is loaded with apples produced by the Syrian Druze who live under occupation, and then at 11.30am, the lorry crosses back into Syria.

The Syrian Druze are living in a no-man's land. They are not allowed to enter Israel, and prevented by the Israeli army from crossing into Syria. Many have had no contact with the rest of their families, living as refugees in Damascus. Much of their farmland has been stolen by Israeli settlers, and they have a hard time getting their produce into Israel.

Sending 7000 tons into Syria is a life-saving way for them to earn a bit of money.

Israel has repeatedly rejected Syria's peace overtures, and states that the stolen Golan will remain in Israeli hands. Just days ago the Syrians living under Israeli occupation held a demonstration, demanding the return of their land to Syria. Their demonstration marks 25 years since Israel illegally annexed the land - not even the US recognises Israel's claim on the Golan. The land was snatched in 1967.

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"They are not allowed to enter Israel, and prevented by the Israeli army from crossing into Syria."

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that they can move freely within Israel, and that they have the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship. This I am uncertain about. However, I'm pretty sure that they are allowed to go to Syria, but if they do, they are never allowed to return to their homes in the Golan. This was the plot-line of the movie "The Syrian Bride."

They are not allowed to move freely unless they apply for Israeli citizenship, which of course the vast majority will not.

Syrian Golanis can only cross into Syria with Israeli permission. Israel rarely grants permission, but when it does, it is for marriage and studying. No, students have come to Damascus to study and then returned to the Occupied Golan.

If they marry, Israel will not let them bring their partner into the Golan - Israel wants to depopulate the Occupied Golan.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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