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Quneitra Church

The Greek Orthodox Church is considered as  one of the most important archaeological sites in al-Quneitra , it  has  historical and religious significance  in the Golan Heights. 

The  Church is located on the eastern side of the city of Quneitra at the first eastern  entrance to the city near the  bank  to the east of the Quneitra's  famous  tower. 

The  Church's  walls were decorated with marble  and candlesticks which were  imported  from Europe. This increased its beauty and greatness,  before  the  Israeli aggression in 1967 turned it into rubbles .

The church  which has  a square form, is  built of  solid  black basalt stone  .The building  as a whole  composed of two layers, on the roof of the church there are two minarets with about   6 meters height. In addition to the circular dome of the church, which is beautifully located beside  the  two  minarets  . This dome contains a large  number of  windows  that allow sunlight to enter the heart of the Church for light  and ventilation.

The church is surrounded by  a wall of basalt  in addition to a small garden at the western entrance of the church.

Anyone can enter  the  church from  the western side which  contains a hall of baptism , worship, prayers and masses.

According to the eastern side of the church, there are two doors and  staircase of cement  which enable people to ascend to the second floor and to  the roof of the church.

After the Israeli occupation of  al-Quneitra,  most parts of  the "Greek Orthodox Church"  have  been exposed to destruction   especially the southern side and the  stairs and  the wall  that surrounds it.

The Church was visited by His Holiness Pope  John  Pual II  in the year 2001 during his historic visit to Syria, where he delivered a speech and planted an  olive  tree  praying  that peace would prevail on this earth.

 

M.Wassouf 

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

Salute to the Brave Prisoners

After one year of captivity and unjust detention in the Israeli's prisons, the Syrian prisoner Imad Sami Al-Merei had finally regained his freedom. The Israeli occupation arrested him about eleven months ago from his birthplace in Golan Heights.

"The prison would  increase our adherence for our homeland, we confirm our attachment to the Syrian identity and the preserving of our land 's dear soil ." The prisoner Al-Merei said.

"Arresting of my comrades and I is part of the history of the occupied Golan, we are the sons of this community who offered precious sacrifices through the years of occupation to prove its permanent affiliation to motherland Syria. We were not the first nor the last of those prisoners who resisted the Israeli occupation as long as it was trespassing on our beloved land."Al-Merei added.

Our message to the Israeli occupation is that the Golan Heights will remain Syrian , no matter how long or short time will be .

Indeed, my last message to the Syrian Arab people is that we have to pay heavy prices for our choices in resisting the occupation to restore the Arab rights, on top of which is  the Palestinian cause.

Syria had paid heavy prices because of its permanent support  to the Arab resistance  especially the Lebanese one. And here we must remember what Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said after the liberation of Southern Lebanon : "I dedicate this victory to Syria .. Syria Al- Assad .. Beirut was destroyed by Sharon but it was protected by Hafez al-Assad."

Syria had also paid hefty prices because the Syrians took to the streets to topple  the conspiracy of the new Middle East under the pretext of the so-called the Arab Spring.

But Syria will remain strong in spite of all the world 's conspiracies, because it is the bastion of steadfastness under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad. The leader who made  Syria a strong country boasting respectable and honorable future.
That is why we say that our choices as Arab Syrians are linked to our position and our role which  is considered the main aspiration of all those honorable Arabs , especially our people in Palestine.

Finally, I salute all those who supported me and stood by me especially my family and my faithful friends .
Salute to my homeland, Syria, its people , army and the wise  leadership of President Bashar al-Assad.

Salute to the brave prisoners especially those of Golan Heights : Abu Fida, Majid A-Shae'r, Sham Shams and Iyad Al-Jawhari.

 

M.Wassouf

Feast is Better by Restoring Golan

Each Syrian house lives the profound tribulations of the Golan Heights supposing that the occupied Golan will return Sooner or later to motherland Syria.

Despite sadness lines drawn on the Syrian faces hoping to see the Syrian Arab flag in  the liberated Golan Heights as it has been hoisted one day  over liberated Quneitra after October Liberation War victories.

Notwithstanding pessimism, optimism by the forthcoming Eid brings with it a remote optimism that freedom is the most precious right.

Harsh years elapsed and the Israeli usurper is still trying to extinguish and deprive our sons in the occupied Golan from their smile.

Our sons  in the occupied Golan from all  various segments were and are still fighting against this brutal aggression which is trying again and again not only to rob the ground but also freedoms. It is also noteworthy the policy of persecution practiced against our sons in the occupied Golan every day.

Albeit all perpetrated practices by the occupying entity in the occupied Golan either by burning, destruction, imprisoning , robbing of freedom and thoughts, the feast is willy-nilly coming and it will be envitable the nicest feast once the beloved occupied Golan will be restored.

 The Israeli occupation that occupies the ground and wages one aggression after another, does not stop its ongoing attempts to repress our sons in the Golan Heights.

The first massacre of Qana, then the second, and July aggression on  on Lebanon 2006 and not to mention the injured Gaza and many massacres perpetrated by the Israeli occupier across history.

Israeli entity's practices are not confined to bombs and ballots but to oblige our sons in the occupied Golan to shed the Syrian identity.

With all these heinous aggressions, our sons  still maintain their steadfastness in the face of the brutal aggression and Eid is coming willy-nilly to celebrate their long-awaited victory.

F. al-Taleb

E & T : H. SH

Masada Village

Masada is a Syrian village of the occupied Golan. To the north and westward there is (Masada lake)  Ram pool.The village stretches over a volcanic land some 970 meters  above  sea level.

In the north area of the town,  houses are situated on a low land. while it has boundary with Abu saeed valley in the east and it is surrounded by forests in the west and north  where the land inclines towards Al- Saar valley in the north .

Masada village which belongs to Quneitra governorate  was a center to other villages before the occupation in 1967. The town provided social services for the inhabitants and  other villages.

The village fell prey in the throes of the aggressive occupation in 1967  and Masada is still one of a few remaining villages under occupation.

N.H.Khider