Israel’s gunfire disrupts Syrian farmers, shepherds near occupied Golan Heights
Enab Baladi – Quneitra
The citizens of the villages adjacent to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights suffer from daily gunfire by the Israeli army as they approach the border fence to carry out their work, whether grazing sheep or taking care of the land.
Ahmed Bakr, from the northern countryside of Quneitra governorate, is forced to graze his flock of 100 sheep and goats on the lands near the border, as they are uncultivated.
Bakr told Enab Baladi that there is no pasture for livestock breeders in that area except for lands close to the border, as they are not cultivated. As for the rest of the lands, they are planted with winter seasons or fruit trees, and grazing is only possible in these rugged areas close to the strip.
Bakr, like other Syrian shepherds in that area, is at risk of arrest by the Israeli occupation army or daily shooting by the Israeli patrols.
Suffering is not only for shepherds
The border areas between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights are witnessing a near-constant alert by the occupation army patrols on suspicion of activities carried out by Iranian elements or those affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah.
The spokesperson for the occupation army, Avichay Adraee, previously announced on Twitter on December 30, 2022, the arrest of two people who approached the security fence.
Adraee said that the two people were transferred to the occupied territories for interrogation before they were returned to Syria again without explaining how they returned.
Israel usually hands detainees over to special committees affiliated with the International Red Cross (IRC), which in turn transfers them to Syria.
Mohammad Rahal, a resident of the town of al-Hurriya in the northern countryside of Quneitra, who owns wooded land near the border fence, told Enab Baladi that the Israeli occupation army had sent vehicles that bulldozed part of his land.
According to Rahal, the occupation forces prevented him from working on his land until they issued a card authorizing him to enter his land after coordination between the Syrian military security forces, the United Nations forces, and the occupation army.
Despite the distribution of security permits, the occupation patrols still fear the entry of farmers and shepherds from the border strip, and it shoots daily at the citizens who are forced to approach the area and uses loudspeakers to warn them not to approach.
In turn, Abu Yassin, who preferred to withhold his full name, said that he has a crop of figs that he must pick when it is ripe, and he does not know how to reach his land and take care of his crop, and no one hears his suffering.
As for Ahmed Nassar, 80, he owns 30 goats, which he still grazes on his land near the borderline.
More complications as Iran, Hezbollah present
Abu Ali told Enab Baladi that he did not struggle in searching for pastures previously, especially during the past years.
However, after the Syrian regime forces re-controlled the area in 2018 and deploying of “fighters from Iran and Hezbollah,” the situation for herders and farmers worsened.
No one is allowed to approach the border fence or graze near it, as the Israeli forces move immediately and drive them out of the area or open fire.
Abu Ali cannot secure a suitable pasture, as there are not enough pastures in the area due to the large amount of agricultural land there, he said.
The pace of security operations on the southern Syrian borders along the occupied Syrian Golan increased since the beginning of the year, as Israel announced a series of security operations during which it seized drug smuggling operations and thwarted a number of infiltration operations into its territory by individuals it said were linked to Iran.
Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and announced its “official annexation” in 1981. Israel obtained US recognition of the annexation through former US President Donald Trump, who signed a resolution recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over it in 2019.
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