Five years ago, Israeli armour roared up into the rocky hills of Syria known as Golan Heights and won one of then most decisive battles in the 1967 War. ?
Five years ago, Israeli armour roared up into the rocky hills of Syria known as Golan Heights and won one of then most decisive battles in the 1967 War. ?Several Israeli leaders have said that, however Middle East peace negotiations progress, they will never give up the 442 square miles (1,150 square kms) of the Heights, from which Syrian guns shelled Israeli farming villages before the 1967 war.
Visnews cameramen Abraham Jacob visited the area this week, and discovered that the once vulnerable agricultural kibbutzes on the plain below have extended onto the Heights.
But the military presence is also strongly evident. And on the fifth anniversary of the fighting in June, 1967, Israeli armour returned to Kuneitra, the biggest Syrian town to fall into Israeli hands, and pounded the now deserted buildings during artillery practice.
SYNOPSIS: New Israeli kibbutzes are springing up over one of the major battlefields of the Nineteen-Sixty-Seven war, the Golan Heights. Exactly five years ago, Israeli armour stormed up into these Syrian-held hills to fight one of the most decisive battles of the war. Before the war, Syrian guns had frequently shelled Israeli farming villages on the plain below. Now the farmers have followed the military up into the hills. Stones have been cleared, fields and orchards planted, villages built.
Not all of the new inhabitants are Jewish. Some are members of the small Druze community -- a close-knot sect of two-hundred-thousand people living in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
The signs of the fighting five years ago remain. And despite the new agricultural community, you can't move far in the Golan Heights without encountering the strong Israeli military presence.
Kuneitra was the biggest Syrian town captured during the June War. Today, It's deserted. Virtually every building was either damaged or destroyed in the fighting. On Thursday -- the fifth anniversary of the battle -- the ruins echoed once again with gunfire as Israeli units returned for shooting practice.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly said that they will never give the Golan Heights back to Syria -- whatever progress is made in Middle East peace talks.