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.