Golan Heights

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Katzrin library, in the Golan Heights

The Golan Heights is a region of high land in northeastern Israel.

From 1516 until 1918, the area was part of the Ottoman Empire. From the end of World War I it was occupied by the British and French for almost thirty years, with an arbitrary border being negotiated between the two colonial powers.

From 1946 until 1967, it was occupied by Syria. However, after Syria's defeat in the Six Day War, the Golan Heights were able to rejoin Israel. In 1973, Syria started the Yom Kippur War in a failed attempt to retake this area by force.

In 1981, the Golan Heights were formally annexed by Israel, and the inhabitants were offered Israeli citizenship.

File:Golan Heights Map i.png
Map illustrating the location of the Golan Heights within Israel.

Strategic location

The Golan Heights, as per its name, is an elevated region, topographically a plateau, with an average altitude of 1000 meters, about 3300 feet, and rising to 4000 feet. For comparison, California's Mt. Shasta rises to 14,200 feet. The Golan Heights rises northwards toward Mount Hermon and slopes downward to about 400 meters (1300 ft) elevation along the Yarmouk River in the south. Because of its elevation, it was used by Syria to fire artillery and launch rockets into populated regions in northern Israel.

Vineyards and recreation

Under Israeli control, portions of the Golan Heights have been planted with vineyards, some of the highest elevated vineyards in Israel, with vineyards planted upwards of 4000 feet (1200 meters) from the Sea of Galilee towards Mount Hermon. The seven Israeli wineries in the Golan Heights have a cultivated area of 1600 acres, or 2 1/2 square miles. Its slopes are a popular destination during the winter, provide skiing recreation for Israelis and tourists.