Successive Israeli governments have adopted a number of policies to control and contain the Syrian population since Israel began its occupation. Numerous villages have been destroyed, thousands driven from their homes, private and public property expropriated, the remaining Arab villages have been prevented from expanding and the free movement of people curtailed. In 1981, Israel enacted legislation that purported to annex the territory. This move was widely condemned by the international community and from the perspective of international law, the Syrian Golan remains an occupied territory to which the laws of occupation apply. The northern hemisphere summer of 2008 marked the 41st anniversary of Israel's occupation. This report outlines the background to the occupation and the consequences for the local population. It then examines the action of the Israeli authorities and argues that certain practices by the Israeli Defence Forces constitute war crimes, which in some cases may also amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention governing the protection of civilians.
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