Israel has decided to push ahead with a plan to build 7,000 new settler units in the occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights, despite a global outcry.
The so-called Israeli ‘Ministry of Housing’ is currently in the process of implementing the controversial plan, which is scheduled to complete in 2026, a report in Palestine Today said on Tuesday. It comes as the regime in Tel Aviv has stepped up illegal activities to expand the presence of settlers in the occupied Golan Heights and the Palestinian territories.
Since taking over in June, the regime, headed by right-wing stalwart Naftali Bennett, has begun rapid expansion of settlements in contravention of international law.
In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later – a move never recognized by the international community.
In 1973, another war broke out; and a year later, an UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights. However, Israel has over the past several decades built dozens of settlements in Golan in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its construction activities.
Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.
Reports about Israel planning to expand the construction of settler units in the occupied Golan Heights created a buzz last week following Bennett’s controversial remarks.
Addressing a conference, the Israeli premier said the number of settlers would be doubled in the Golan Heights, calling it a “strategic goal.” Bennett said in six weeks his regime would present a plan to boost the population, including the construction of two new settler units, in the occupied region. The ultimate goal, he stressed, was to reach the population of 100,000 settlers, almost four times the current population of around 27,000.
In response, Syria reaffirmed its right to retake the occupied territory. In a statement, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the Golan Heights will “return in the arms of the motherland sooner or later,” adding that there is “no other way.”
After Bennett’s remarks, there were reports about the Israeli military transferring its tanks to the Heights in a dangerous move smacking of provocation. In a report on October 12, Rusiya Al-Yaum (RT Arabic) said the Israeli regime had dispatched a “large number of tanks” to the rocky plateau presently under the illegal occupation of Israel.