Daily Israel Report

Golan Druze Turning against Assad

Druze in the Golan Heights are turning against Assad and protesting against his regime for the first since the Six-Day War in 1967.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/22/2012, 12:11 PM

Druze rally in Majdal Shams
Druze rally in Majdal Shams
Reuters

Druze in the Golan Heights are beginning to turn against Syrian President Bashar Assad and protesting against his regime for the first time since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Druze, who have a religion of their own and are not a Muslim sect, comprise nearly 50 percent of the population of the strategic Golan region and most of them have been adamantly anti-Israel. The Druze are traditionally loyal to whatever ruler is in power, and the Druze in other parts of Israel include some of the IDF's bravest combat soldiers. The Golan Druze's lack of loyalty was a direct result of the discussions in Israel about exchanging to Golan for "peace" with Syria. They feared reprisals if the area were to be given to Syria.

Most of the population lives in the village of Majdal Shams, on the road to Mount Hermon, and they have family ties with Syrians. Residents have remained silent during the year-old Arab Spring rebellion and are careful not to show affinity for Israel out of fear Assad could harm their relatives.

Assad made Israel's giving up the Golan Heights a prerequsite for any kind of talks, although his forces easily bombarded Israelis who lived in the Beet She'an valley directly below the Golan Heights before the 1967 war. Chldren in the kibbutzim in the area slept in underground shelters before Israel controlled the Heights.

Human rights groups told the Associated Press that “support for the opposition is growing each week, you could say, if not every day," but it has not taken on a militant tone. Several peaceful protests have cropped up at the city’s main square, a rare public expression against Assad.

Meanwhile, the daily murder of opponents to Assad continues, with faint hope by the opposition that the United States will agree to support them militarily.

At least 45 people died in the central Syrian city of Homs Tuesday, including prominent blogger Rami al-Said. His last post on Facebook stated, "Baba Amro is being wiped out now, complete genocide, I don't want you to tell us 'our hearts are with you' because I know that, I want projects everywhere inside and outside I want everyone to go out in front of the embassies in all countries everywhere because we are soon to be nothing, there will be no more Baba Amr - I expect this is a final letter to you and we will not forgive you."

Baba Amr is a section of the city of Homs that has been a hotbed of revolt, and that has been intensely besieged by Assad forces over the past several months in an effort to break the uprising.