Despite political enmity between Syria and Israel, both countries have permitted eight Druze residents of the Golan to travel to Syria and back. The eight were granted authorization for a rare week-long trip beginning Monday.
Deputy Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Ayoub Kara, who is Druze and was involved in getting authorization for the trip, escorted the group to the border. One of the eight was a woman named Rima whom Kara helped 14 years ago when she applied for permission to enter Israel to marry a Golan resident. Now, Rima will return to Syria briefly to visit her dying father.
Three brothers from Bukata are making the trip to Syria following the death of their brother, a resident of Syria. A woman whose brother died is also among the group; she plans to visit her Syrian parents.
The remaining three are women who came to Israel as brides and will now visit their families in Syria for the first time in decades. Zohara has not seen her family in 20 years, Najua will see her family for the first time in 28 years, and Zina hopes to see her relatives for the first time in 40 years.
Many Druze families are split between Syria and the Golan. Marriages continue to take place between men and women on opposite sides of the border, however, due to the conflict between Israel and Syria, women who cross the border in either direction in order to marry are unable to return. In 2004, the situation gained national publicity when it was depicted in the award-winning Israeli film "The Syrian Bride".