The Golan Heights is a rocky plateau spanning about 1,800 km2 (690 sq mi) with an average altitude of 1,000 metres, overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley which contains the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River to the west. Because of its high elevation and vantage points, whoever reigned over the Golan region occupied a strategic military advantage, so throughout history it has undergone constant military struggles. During the six-day war of 1967 Israel seized (and still retains control of) about 1300 sq km, although the highest point (Mt Hermon at 2814 m) is not Israeli occupied. The international community widely considers the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory held by Israel under military occupation.
This is a fertile area and provides much of Israel’s fresh water.
The Golan Heights is known as Bashan in the Bible. It is where the half-tribe of Manasseh settled, and Golan is named as a city of refuge (Deut 4:43; Josh 20:8, 21:27; 1 Kgs 4:13; Ps 22:12; Isa 2:13).
See also: Israel.