Al-Quneitra

Al-Quneitra  is the  capital of the destroyed   Governorate  which  is located  to the south-west  of  Syria.

 The city  is situated in a  valley in the Golan Heights at an elevation of 1,010 metres above sea level. The name " al-quneitra" means( the little bridge).

On  June  10 1967, the Israeli enemy destroyed al-Quneitra and displaced its people from their lands  like the other Golan's villages.

Quneitra is situated in a  valley in the Golan Heights at an altitude of 942 m . The surrounding area of the city  is dominated by ancient volcanic lava flows punctuated  by a number of dormant volcanic craters  which rise some 150–200 m above the surrounding plateau . The volcanic hills of the region have played a key role as observatory posts  and  firing positions in the conflicts over the region, most notably in the October War.  In  peaceful times, the fertile volcanic soil has supported agricultural activities such as wheat growing and grazing .

During his visit to the region, the American traveller Harriet-Louise H. Patterson recorded that Quneitra was charmingly set in a grove of eucalyptus trees. Al-Quneitra is pleasant as a stopover for lunch. It is cool under the spreading trees, usually quiet and restful.

The city's position on an important trade route gave it a diversified population for much of its history. By advent  of the 20th century , its population grew to some 21,000 people after  the  Syrian independence from the  French occupation  in 1946.

Al-Quneitra in History

The surrounding area has been inhabited for millennia, where excavations works had been discovered that   Palaeolithic  hunters are believed  to have lived there. A settlement was established at least as early as the  Roman and Byzantine times, serving as a stop on the road from Damascus to western Palestine. Saint Paul is said to have passed through the settlement on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus  where St.Paul was converted to Christianity in Kokab village, north-east of Quneitra, on the road to Damascus.

In 1868 a travel handbook reported that the site was a "ruined village of about 80 or 100 houses" and   a large khan also stood in ruins.

Towards the end of  the 19th century , the modern city grew  around the old  Khan which had been built using the stones of a ruined ancient settlement. In the midst  of 20th century ,Quneitra  became the administrative center of Golan.

During The  World War I, the Australian Mounted Division and  the 5th Cavalry Division defeated the Ottoman Turks there on 29 September 1918, before they took Damascus. Quneitra  witnessed  several battles during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign of  The Second World War, including the Battle of Damascus .

When Syria and Palestine  gained their independence from the  French and British  occupation  respectively after the Second World War, Quneitra gained a new strategic significance as a key route  junction some 15 miles from the border thus becoming a  prosperous market in the region .

During the first few days of the October  War in 1973, al-Quneitra and many villages of the occupied Golan Heights had been restored  to  homeland, Syria.

 On 26 June 1974, the late  president Hafez al-Assad  hoisted  the Syrian flag on the liberated  Quneitra .

The directives of  H.E President Hafez al-Assad since the liberation of Quneitra  to restore  life to this governorate  stressed  providing  all  elements of the steadfastness of its people and raising the slogan of reconstruction is conductive to liberation.

Al-Quneitra  undertook the responsibility  to achieve these accordingly:

1-  The Structural and productive level: to rebuild what was destroyed by the  Zionist machine in all liberated  villages and provide them with all the services. Among  which   the  agricultural land  reform  and  make it available  to citizens to  return  to their villages at the expense of the state.

2- The social level: to stabilize people's life  and  support their steadfastness for the development of economic , cultural  and political fields. Besides, the  development of agriculture  in both areas flora and fauna , and provide basic services in the field of education.

 

M.Wassouf