The Golan Heights are indeed the highest location in the State of Israel. The most northern part of the Israeli Golan Heights is the Hermon mountain range. Will President Trump make another clear pro-Israel move and recognize Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights?
Why is the Golan so important to Israel?
First of all, anybody who visits the area will say that this is an obvious question. The Golan Heights are absolutely critical for the security of Israel’s north. Why? Height advantage. This was the case in at least 4 of Israel’s wars – 1948, 1967,1973, and 1982. In all of these wars, the height advantage of the Hermon and the Golan Heights was a major factor.
War of Independence
The State of Israel miraculously defeated the Syrian forces in her War of Independence back in 1948. The Syrian Army had better weapons – far better weapons. Israel had no tanks to defend the North. The Syrian Army had Russian-made tanks. Israel held the lowlands and Syria came down from the mountain range. There is one famous story that took place in Degania – Israel’s first kibbutz – located near the foot of the Golan Heights. Brave Israeli soldiers had no weapons to penetrate tank armor. But they stopped a tank attack by waiting till the tank actually entered the village, and only then did they stop the tank with a frontal grenade and shooting attack. The tank halted and the entire tank attack ended. That Syrian tank is still there to this day inside of the Kibbutz.
Six Day War
Israel’s Arab neighbors attacked it from 3 directions in 1967. At first, Israel stunned all of the Arab armies with a lightning strike at all of the Arab country Air Forces. But the land battles ensued shortly after. For the first few days, Israel largely battled down south against Egypt in the Sinai desert. By the 3rd and 4th day of the war, Israel had already liberated Jerusalem and it’s most holy sites on the mountain range. Only on the 5th day of the war, Israel struck back against Syria and literally climbed up the Golan Heights in the face of machine gun fire and conquered the towering ridge. When the Israeli soldiers realized just how much the Golan Heights dominated the lowlands below, they became the first people who declared that Israel must never relinquish these high points again.
Yom Kippur War
In the Yom Kippur War, just 6 years later, Israel almost lost the Golan Heights in the first 2-3 days of the War. But, some brave tank solders and reservists barely held on in the northern Golan Heights against a barrage of hundreds of Syrian tanks. In the southern Golan Heights, the Israeli Army actually had to scale back up to reconquer the heights. In the last few days of the War, the Israeli Army pushed the Syrian forces back close to Damascus. It was a different kind of a victory – a turnaround victory. But one thing was clear – Israel had to hold on to the Golan Heights no matter what.
Today, the area of the Golan is perhaps even more important that it was then. Iraq is just to the east of Syria and Syria is the most unstable dictatorial regime in the Middle East. Israel would be foolish to even entertain the idea of relinquishing the security that holding onto the Golan Heights affords.