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Golan Heights

The Golan Heights, or simply the Golan, is a region in the Levant, spanning about 1,800 square kilometres (690 sq mi). The region defined as the Golan Heights differs between disciplines: as a geological and biogeographical region, the Golan Heights is a basaltic plateau bordered by the Yarmouk River in the south, the Sea of Galilee and Hula Valley in the west, the Anti-Lebanon with Mount Hermon in the north and Wadi Raqqad in the east; and as a geopolitical region, the Golan Heights is the area captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. This region includes the western two-thirds of the geological Golan Heights and the Israeli part of Mount Hermon.

The earliest evidence of human habitation on the Golan dates to the Upper Paleolithic period. According to the Bible, an Amorite Kingdom in Bashan was conquered by Israelites during the reign of King Og. Throughout the Old Testament period, the Golan was "the focus of a power struggle between the kings of Israel and the Aramaeans who were based near modern-day Damascus." After Assyrian and Babylonian rule, Persia dominated the region and allowed it to be resettled by returning Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. The Itureans, an Arab or Aramaic people, settled there in the 2nd century BCE and remained until the end of the Byzantine period. Gamla, the capital of Jewish Galaunitis, would play a major role in the Jewish-Roman wars, Organized Jewish settlement in the region came to an end in 636 CE when it was conquered by Arabs under Umar ibn al-Khattāb. In the 16th century, the Golan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and was part of the Vilayet of Damascus until it was transferred to French mandate in 1918. When the mandate terminated in 1946, it became part of the newly independent Syrian Republic.


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