Winds of Hope in the Occupied Syrian Golan

Sunday, 29 May 2011 11:47 Francesc Cabré Sánchez for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Residents of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan city of Majdal Shams were those who restored calm after the Israeli military assassination of four Palestinians during the Nakba, on 15 May. Occupied Golan residents applaud the courage of the Palestinian refugees and are convinced that the wave of change underway will benefit the Arab world.


Majdal Shams, the town in the occupied Syrian Golan to where Palestinian refugees came from Syria on Nakba commemoration day of 15 May 


Life has apparently returned to normal in Majdal Shams, the main town in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan. Shops are open, local farmers working their fields and in the centre of town there is nothing to indicate that four Palestinians were killed on the Nakba commemoration day (15 May) when they crossed the Syrian border to claim the right of return for refugees.

But if you approach the fence separating the territory administered by Israel from the demilitarized zone, just a few hundred yards from the Syrian border, things look different. Part of the fence was torn down during the demonstration to commemorate the Nakba and has been repaired while the number of troops stationed in the area exceeds 40, many more than those present on 15 May.

And talking with the local population strengthens the sense that the killing will have long-term implications for Majdal Shams and the occupied Golan. “Nothing will ever be the same. Palestinians showed us the way, because Israel is prepared to fight against violent uprisings, but does not know how to react or fight nonviolence,” says Fawzi Abu Jabal Hussein, a member of the local NGO Golan for Development .

“We knew that many Palestinians would come, but for us it was a surprise that a hundred people crossed the fence and come into town,” said Salman Fakherldeen, public relations officer of Al-Marsad, an organization dedicated to defending human rights in the Occupied Syrian Golan. Fakherldeen was one of the local people who mediated between the Palestinians and Israeli soldiers to allow the former to cross the fence and reach Syrian territory without additional military violence. When the Palestinians began to cross over fence, they were protected by a human chain of Majdal Shams residents.

Fear and pride

Mahmoud-Frias Mara, a Majdal Shams resident who is building a house near the fence, confesses that he initially feared possible retaliation by the Israeli army. “I was afraid they would bomb or attack Majdal Shams, but then I was proud of what the Palestinians did. They were very brave! The truth is that I would love to cross the fence and go to Syria, my country, but we have to stay here and resist the occupation,” he adds.

Beyond what happened on 15 May, residents of Majdal Shams are closely following news coming from Syria and the revolt currently challenging the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Fawzi Hussein stresses that this revolution is also theirs, “because it is my country and what happens to me is my business.” “The Syrians have said enough, they no longer want to live under a tyrannical regime. For us it is good because if the government falls, it will mean more freedom and the revolution will continue. With this it will be easier to reach liberation of the Golan, after 44 years of occupation.”

“While the Israelis continue here, it is impossible for anyone to think of a peace agreement with Syria. It is inconceivable,” says Salman. Everyone agrees that there is a long road ahead in the Arab Middle East, but the revolution has already given the people of the occupied Syrian Golan something very important: hope.


Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Source & More at the Alternative Information Center | AIC

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