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Israel, Syria: 5 Factors That Led to Recent Hostilities

By    |   Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 07:08 PM

The complicated history between Israel and Syria can be traced back first, and most notably, to disputed water rights in the Golan Heights. The territory sits to the east of the Sea of Galilee and to the west of Syria and it has long been a battle ground for the two Middle Eastern countries.

In the latest round of fighting between Israel and Syria, Reuters reported on Aug. 31, 2014, that the Israel military said it shot down an unmanned drone that was from Syria and flying over the Golan Heights.

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The airspace over Golan Heights is controlled by the Israelis. It’s not known whether the drone had a specific mission but it was reportedly shot down near the Quneitra border crossing between the Golan Heights and Syria by a Patriot missile.

“Rainwater from the Golan's catchment feeds into the Jordan River. The area provides a third of Israel's water supply,” according to a summary compiled by the BBC about the Golan Heights.

“The land is fertile, with the volcanic soil being used to cultivate vineyards and orchards and to raise cattle,” according to the BBC summary. “The Golan is also home to Israel's only ski resort.”

Here are five factors that have contributed to recent hostilities.

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• Attempts were made in 1949 to reach a peace agreement over the disputed territory’s water. That failed, which later lead to the “Six Day War” in the late 1960s when Israel seized the Golan Heights, according to a timeline compiled by the BBC.

• Syria then attempted to take back the disputed territory in 1973 but was unsuccessful. Both countries signed another peace agreement or "armistice" the following year, which established a United Nations peacekeeping force in a demilitarized zone of the Golan Heights.

• Less than a decade later, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in the early 1980s, but the maneuver wasn’t recognized by the international community.

• The United States set up peace negotiations between the two countries in late 1999-early 2000. However, those talks broke down when Israel wouldn’t agree to boundaries that that would allow Syria to take control of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, a major source of Israel’s water supply.

• Israeli sentiment hasn’t supported backing off the Golan Heights, and in 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjimin Netanyahu said he planned to take a tougher line against Syria as it related to the territory. This prompted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to declare “there was no partner for talks on the Israeli side,” according to the BBC summary.

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The complicated history between Israel and Syria can be traced back first, and most notably, to disputed water rights in the Golan Heights.
israel, syria, factors, recent, hostilities
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2014-08-02
Tuesday, 02 Sep 2014 07:08 PM
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