10 Syrian Druze residents of Golan Heights injured in protest against wind turbines

Syrian Druze residents of the occupied Golan Heights are opposing Israeli plans to build a wind turbine to supply power to nearby illegal settlements. The Golan Heights has been under occupation since 1981

December 13, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo: jamlyyyyy/Twitter via Middle East Monitor

As many as 10 Syrian Druze residents of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights sustained injuries after the Israeli military police cracked down on them during a protest against the construction of wind turbines to supply electricity to the illegal Israeli settlements in the area. The police also arrested eight others. Over 300 Syrian Druze people took part in the protests on Wednesday, December 9.

The Syrian Druze had also called for the observation of a general strike on Wednesday, as a result of which shops, schools and other civilian institutions and facilities were closed down. A similar general strike was also staged on Monday in opposition to the Israeli construction and installation of wind turbine farms on Syrian Druze agricultural lands. The construction, in its first phase, will reportedly negatively impact more than 3,600 dunams (890 acres) of the Druze’s apple and cherry orchards. The construction will also curtail the opportunity of the village residents to expand their villages in the future. More than 22,000 Syrian Druze, who consider themselves to be Syrian citizens, live in the Golan Heights villages of Majdal Shams, Buqata, Masada, Ein Qiniyye and several others. The state of Israel has repeatedly tried to force them to accept Israeli citizenship since 1982 but they have overwhelmingly resisted the Israeli coercion.

The crackdown on the protests on Wednesday saw the Israeli police forces use teargas, rubber-coated metal bullets and other riot gear equipment on the protesters, in response to which the protesters threw rocks on the police personnel, resulting in 4 policemen also suffering injuries. Over the previous two days, Israel had closed access to several roads in the area, including some of the main roads leading to the Golan Heights. The Israeli military authorities also closed large swathes of agricultural lands and forbade the owners from accessing them in order for the Israeli authorities to test the soil and transfer the digging equipment to the areas for the purpose of the wind turbine installation and construction.

The illegally-occupied Syrian Golan Heights have been controlled by Israel since the six-day war of 1967, an occupation that has been condemned and considered illegal by the whole international community, until recently when the US administration of president Donald Trump last year recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, 28 years after Israel unilaterally decided to annex it in 1981. The American decision was met with widespread international flak and was opposed unanimously, including by the United Nations and the European Union.