Syrians in the Golan Heights have held protest rallies against “municipal elections” which Israel plans to hold in the occupied territory, Syria's SANA news agency reported.
The rallies were held Saturday across several villages where the protesters voiced “determination to continue resistance against occupation and their adherence to their Syrian Arab identity.”
“They asserted that they will continue to work on foiling this project, which came after the occupation used all possible ways to spread Judaization,” the news agency said.
“We are Syrians and we belong to our homeland Syria, and we don’t accept these elections as we consider them null and void,” SANA quoted one protester as saying.
The protests came after Tel Aviv invited the Druze community in the area to participate in the polls on October 30.
There are 23,000 Druze living in the Golan Heights but they are loyal to the government in Syria and fiercely opposed to the Israeli occupation.
Last week, Syrians in the territory held a similar demonstration and burned Israeli election ballots in a symbolic dismissal of the vote.
Israel occupied Golan in 1967, alongside the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms and annexed it in 1981, in a move considered illegal by the United Nations.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community had to recognize the Golan Heights as the “Israeli territory.”
“As long as it depends on me, the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty,” he said.
After 2011 when Syria found itself in the grip of a foreign-backed militancy and terrorism, Israel began providing medical treatment in Golan to terrorists injured in clashes with Syrian troops.
The Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from militant groups.
In September, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said Washington could recognize the occupied side of the Golan Heights as the Israeli territory.
Yisrael Katz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Reuters in May that Washington’s recognition of Tel Aviv’s illegal annexation of Golan was “topping the agenda” in talks with the U.S.
Over the past decades, Israel has built some 30 settlements with an estimated 20,000 settlers in the Golan Heights, defying international calls on the regime to stop its settlement expansion on the occupied territory.
Last month, Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman said Tel Aviv was ready to reopen the border crossing with Syria in the Golan Heights after Syrian troops retook the territory from militants.
Lieberman also said Israel never wanted a conflict with Syria and that it was ready to ensure a 1974 armistice agreement between the two sides was strictly observed.
In August, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force returned to the border between Syria and the occupied territories, four years after it was shuttered due to militant attacks.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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