INTRODUCTION: About 2,000 Syrian demonstrators staged a noisy protest on the Golan Heights border on Tuesday (22 December) to denounce the annexation of the area by Israel.
KUNEITRA, GOLAN HEIGHTS (VISNEWS - MARWAN MAKDESI)
GV Syrian demonstrators at border fence
CU Israeli soldier looks through binoculars as protesters, escorted by UN van move off (2 shots)
LV People looking on from building as Israeli soldiers arrive in Land Rover (2 shots)
GV Demonstrators stand at UN checkpoint
GV UN truck arrives and officer questions demonstrator (3 shots)
SV More Israeli soldiers arrive in truck
KUNEITRA, SYRIA (VISNEWS - MARWAN MAKDES)
GTV Syrian demonstrators in Kuneitra, carrying banners and chanting as they march (2 shots)
SV Demonstrators carrying banners and photographs of President al-Assad
Background: INTRODUCTION: About 2,000 Syrian demonstrators staged a noisy protest on the Golan Heights border on Tuesday (22 December) to denounce the annexation of the area by Israel. The demonstration coincided with a crucial debate in the Israeli Knesset over the issue which has soured relations with the country's allies, particularly the United States.
SYNOPSIS: The protesters gathered near a United Nations-Syrian military checkpoint at a remote mountainous area of the border.
They yelled insults at Israeli troops about 100 metres (yards) away. United Nations troops -- many of them there are Austrian -- kept the two sides apart. UN soldiers have patrolled the contested border region since the 1973 Middle East war. Now the Golan Heights have been annexed, Israeli police and courts, as well as their armed forces, will impose authority on the 20,000 residents there. One third of the population is Israeli.
This is all bitterly resented by Syrians who have never recognised the loss of the territory, captured by Israeli in 1967. Eyewitnesses said that many of the demonstrators were brought to the border area by bus from elsewhere in Syria. As the protest took place the country's President, Hafez al-Assad, began a tour of Arab states to secure united opposition to the annexation.
The Israeli move is due to be debated in the UN Security Council on 5 January where Menachem Begin's government is likely to be further condemned. Already, their closest ally, the United States, has imposed unilateral military and economic sanctions upon Israel.
On the Syrian side of the disputed area more demonstrators marched through the border town of Kuneitra which Israel handed back in the 1974 disengagement agreement. The town is now largely deserted, its people having moved further back into Syria. President Assad's governments hopes that the annexation will serve to unite the Arab world which was notably divided after the recent Fez summit, called to discuss Saudi Arabian Middle East peace proposals. Significantly the President's first stop on his diplomatic tour was Riyadh where Saudi leaders have urged the United States to act against Israel's annexation of the Heights.
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