Worried About the Syria War, Golan Heights Residents Seek Israeli Citizenship
It’s lunchtime and Shufi Salah’s restaurant on the outskirts of this tiny town on the Golan Heights is packed with customers.
Although the Golan has been occupied and annexed by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, most people here consider themselves Syrians - but that may be changing.
Taking a break from dishing up the local favorite of warm pita bread filled with freshly chopped salad, hummus and falafel, Salah says many people here have become Israeli citizens and more are hiring lawyers to do the same.
“People are unsure of what is going to happen in Syria, and they also want democracy for themselves,” he says.
Israel has controlled the Golan since its army invaded to stop Syria’s military from raining down tank fire on Israel during the Six-Day War. The people here have rejected Israeli rule for decades, but many are rethinking that as they watch the regime of Bashar Assad slaughter 30,000 people to maintain power.
Israel’s Interior Ministry says it is seeing a rise in the number of people in the Golan Heights requesting Israeli citizenship. Given that Israel and Syria are still technically at war, some worry that taking Israeli citizenship could be considered treason.