Trip Start May 02, 2006
113Trip End Mar 02, 2007
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Today we went to a ghost within the UN controlled de-militarised zone. It was a little bit of a hassle to get there as you have to obtain a permit from the Interior Ministry (which saw us walk right up the street a week before the terrorist tried to blow up the US Embassy in Damascus). With that in hand you can begin the minibus mission to the town.
Quneitra, in the Golan Heights, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, suffering heavy damage in the process. As the only town along the front with Israel, Quneitra served as the Syrian command center until the 1967 war. The Syrian army's officer's club, barracks, and fuel and ammunition dumps were prominent buildings in the town. By the time Israeli troops actually entered the town, most of the population had fled
Between the 1967 war and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Syria did not hesitate to shell Israeli forces stationed in Quneitra, further damaging the town. At the outbreak of the 1973 war, Quneitra was a major target for Syria's opening assault on Israeli troops. The town changed hands several times, as tank fire and artillery battered buildings throughout the town. Quneitra was repeatedly shelled by artillery and tanks belonging to Syria and her Arab allies.
In 1974, as part of the Israel-Syria disengagement agreement, Quneitra was handed back to Syria. Rather than repairing the damage and allowing Quneitra's residents to return as called for in the agreement, however, Syria instead left the town in ruins hence the name 'Propaganda Town'.
Whatever the truth is the place certainly is a sad sad sight to see. The place has been all but leveled with bulldozers and tanks and whatever was left that could be salvaged was sold to Israeli contractors before they pulled out. There is literally nothing left but concrete and steel reinforcing.
Much of the area still has land mines so when passing through the final Syrian checkpoint we were assigned a secret service policeman to guide us around and make sure we didn't blow ourselves sky high. At various times you are just a short jump over into Israel but with heavy gun emplacement and observation posts on the Israeli side of the fence you wouldn't really want to try it. A shoot first, ask no questions policy no doubt applies.
And that folks is all.
Next pod, Amman - Jordan.
Nath and Kat.