Text by Caitlin Coyle and Kristina Sorge // Photos by Caitlin Coyle
Golan Heights, SYRIA – Israel invaded the Syrian province of Golan Heights in June of 1967 in a six-day war and seized a portion of land that included rich soil, and an important water source. The occupation included Al-Qunaytirah, a town that was once a regional hub for Syria. Israeli military forces remained there until 1974, when a United Nations’ disengagement agreement called for their withdrawal.
Before returning the land, Israeli forces demolished and defaced the lush, agricultural village of Al-Qunaytirah. The Syrians didn’t repopulate the territory, choosing instead to leave it as a reminder of the occupation. It sits officially inside a UN-monitored demilitarized zone between the enemy countries, and is guarded by trucks printed with the letters UNDOF, or United National Disengagement Observer Force.
Today, all that is left of Golan are the remains of decimated buildings, canvassed with bullet holes and graffiti.
“This governorate has been suffering a lot because of Israeli aggression,” said Rihad Hejab, mayor of the province. There are still 30,000 Syrians who live in the broader occupied territory.