Golan for the Development of the Arab Villages (GfD), is
a non profit organization which was established in the occupied
Golan Height's in late 1991, as a reaction to a series of events
in the local national sphere. The main goal of the organization
is to provide an alternative framework for people of the
occupied Golan facing the Israeli occupation authority’s
In the absence of a national authority in the occupied
Golan, and the disruption of communication with the motherland,
Syria, people in the Golan Heights aimed to address and resist
the practices and aims of the occupation since its early days.
In order to emphasize this aim of resistance, GfD have addressed
since its establishment the target of preserving steadfastness
and national belonging. GfD has given particular importance to
the establishment of local institutions that are able to develop
plans and alternative strategies to meet the needs of the local
According to this view, GfD has worked to establish developing
projects and services in the Golan Heights to function as an
alternative of the services provided by the occupying Israeli
authority. It has been active in the areas of health,
agriculture, culture and environment, aiming to achieve the
- To minimize the reliance of the local population on the
occupational institutions through establishment of alternative
sustainable services and projects.
- To address the Israeli policy of obscurantism and the
promotion of national ownership and security.
- Disclosure of practices and violations committed by the
Israeli occupation in the Golan Heights.
- To maintain relations with the peace forces in support of Arab
rights and resistance against the occupation.
- Working to create local job opportunities, and reduce the
brain drain from the local population .
- Promote the values of pluralism, democracy, human rights,
justice and equality in the society.
- Support women in their struggle for justice and equality.
- The establishment of developmental programs, and to contribute
to overcoming the obstacles in the areas of health, agriculture
and culture in the Golan Heights.
From this point GfD is working to fill the fundamental gap in
facing Israeli occupation plans. Our motto, has been and still
is, to work daily in order to create a network of services and
development resources, and a solid foundation to maintain
national affiliation, and for the building of a civilized
Since its establishment, GfD has worked on being fully
self-reliant and to self-finance its ongoing expenses through
the provided services, out of a belief that external support
should be a support for our development, and not a condition for
The funding resources are multiple and can be divided into:
1 - Income from providing services to the public: Since its
foundation GfD worked to develop services and projects to the
public in the occupied Golan Heights. The income of services
formed the basis to cover expenses of various projects. This
income comes from: the health services in all branches,
educational and professional courses, kindergarten fees,
educational activities and publications, theater, alternative
tourism, research and agricultural laboratory. A person with
limited economic abilities is exempted from paying part of, or
the entire cost.
2 - Support from voluntary contributions of people from Golan
Heights: Thousands have contributed to our organization to
support several projects, most recently a donation campaign to
establish an X-ray center. The donations covered 20% of the
3 - Support through voluntary work: All the working staff in the
organization provide a certain percentage of their work in
support of the institution, since they earn approximately 50 -
70% of the average wage for a similar work elsewhere. In
addition, hundreds have volunteered and took part in carrying
out several projects.
4 - Income through Health Maintenance Organizations: Since the
beginning of 1995 compulsory health insurance law was imposed
upon all residents of the Golan Heights. Every citizen in the
occupied territory pay, per month, a tax for health insurance.
And thus the HMOs became responsible for covering the health
costs of their costumers. GfD functions as a contractor and
provides these medical service to health insurers and HMOs cover
5 - Support from outside institutions: through our external
relations, the Society prepared and submitted three projects for
several donators in Europe. We have received support from the
Foundation ICCO of the Netherlands at a rate of 100 thousand
Euros per year
Events and projects:
The health project is the largest amongst our projects. In 1993
we established the first medical center in the Golan Heights
which provided 24 hour health services to all residents of the
Arab Golan villages.
Today, after more than sixteen years since the opening of the
first clinic, the health project expanded to include four public
clinics (in: Majdal Shams, Masada, Ein Qinea and Ghajar), as
well as the Center for X-ray, specialized medicine,
Physiotherapy clinic, Ultrasound center, research department and
the emergency center in Majdal Shams which provides medical
treatment to all people and operates 24 hours a day. 30 doctors,
in addition to 20 nurses, technicians and secretaries work in
The medical activity developed and held by our organization in
the Golan Heights has made a tremendous improvement in the
standards of health services.
Looking at the ratio between the working hours of doctors and
the population: there used to be one doctor for every 8000
people. Today, the percentage is one doctor for every 800
citizens. This is considered a huge success that our society
achieved during a relatively short period.
Agriculture is the most important source of income in the
Golan. Given the lack of financial support required, the work in
the agricultural field has been limited only to research, so far
dealing with the use of agricultural pesticides in the occupied
Golan. Results of this research were published in a booklet
under the title: “The use of agricultural pesticides in the
Golan, harms and risks”.
So far, due to the scarcity of financial resources,
environmental activity is limited. There are a lot of issues
surrounding pollution and destruction of the environment in the
Golan Heights as a result of different practices of the
occupying authorities that we intend to study and document.
Education and Culture:
Education and culture are amongst our highest priorities
in GfD. In schools, teachers are forced to teach according to
the Israeli curriculum set by the occupational authorities,
which is compatible with the Zionist ideology, and this has
potentially tragic and dangerous results for the children who
have no other choice but to learn it.
The occupation authority is conducting a process of brainwashing
in schools using the curriculum. Via this policy their objective
is to try to help raising a generation with self-discriminating
Hence, GfD held several sessions of vocational education, of
courses such as administration, accounting, hairdressing,
computer, languages, etc. In addition to dozens of tours in the
Golan Heights to show the new generation the practices of the
occupation and destruction it caused
We would like to emphasize that our main concern is our internal
social situation in the Golan, where nationalist sentiment is at
the highest level. We still believe that we need to emphasize
national awareness, especially between the new generations.
Accordingly, we realized the importance of national culture and
the importance of our national language. With a focus on the
theme of Arab heritage teaching instead of the "the Druze
heritage" being taught in our schools, our approach is to rely
on the Syrian Arab teaching method.
In addition, our organization initiated a photographic project
of different locations in the Golan Heights, which resulted in a
photographic exhibition of the destroyed villages in the Golan
Heights at the “Kufa” Gallery in London, and in different cities
Several studies about the situation in the occupied Golan
Heights were released both in Arabic and English. For example:
The policy of land confiscation in the occupied Syrian Golan; A
Brief History of Twenty-five years of Israeli occupation in the
Syrian Golan; and The Syrian population in the occupied Golan
The organization receives annually tens of local and
international delegates and organize tours for them including
an explanation about the situation in the Golan, and the
violating and discriminating Israeli practices in the area.
Golan for development provides also daily kindergarten serivces,
attended by approximately 60 children.
Since we were always aware of the importance of theater
in the lives of people, we worked on introducing this vital art
in Golan Heights. Due to the lack of infrastructure and
technical capacity of the theater in Golan, it was important to
start with a theater teaching project, which was launched in
2003 under the supervision of the local writer and artist Moataz
Abu Saleh. The framework is of teaching a course in drama to
younger generations, in cooperation with Palestinian artists,
especially the actor and director Ehab Salama, who contributed
with his efforts to the project for a long time.
This was the beginning of great significance; the first produced
play was "Game of Dreams". GfD has concentrated on the
development of this project. Accordingly, the project has
continued as an activity course, and accepted new students while
maintaining and empowering the former students. There was also
interest in developing other theater arts: stage, lighting,
sound, decorations, etc.
Thus, "Oyoun" (“Eyes”) Theater was established, as one of GfD’s
major achievements, notably receiving contribution and support
from Palestinian artists. The organization has maintained
constant contact with the theater activists inside Palestine and
the West Bank.
So far, seven plays have been produced: Game of Dreams, Colors
of Darkness, Enchanted House comedy, Trump, The Merchant of
Venice, ”Eja bee” , Eyelashes Dancer. All these plays were
produced as a result of intensive workshops and courses in
There is no doubt that this theatrical activity has proven a
successful achievement in the occupied Golan, which added
another dimension to the cultural achievements. Direct public
interaction is one of its biggest assets, and this relationship
is clear from the public involvement with the local theatrical
productions, and anticipation of the plays.
Today, more than 60 students are in “Eyes” theater’s different
sessions: drama, movement and dance. Our experts are always keen
to introduce a variety of methods in the theater, and GfD aims
to develop the theater to become an institute of theater
teaching in addition to the theatrical stage production.
Golan Center for Media
We are aware of the ongoing practice of obscurantism and
obfuscation held by the Israeli authorities in the Golan, and
the falsification of national history and civilization of the
original inhabitants of the territory, aiming to cause absence
of our national identity. The organization, mainly through its
website (www.jawlan.org), documents facts and events of the past
and present, to preserve and show the reality of what is
happening in the Golan, and highlight the fact that the people
of the occupied land will always be loyal to their Syrian
belonging and identity. We are working on publishing reports and
information, in addition to documenting the Israeli violations:
confiscation of land and water,eradication of the population,
destruction of villages in the Golan, and the uprooting of the
population from their land.