Letter: Desolate heights

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Sir: Where did you find the figure of 100,000 as the population in the Golan heights pre-1967 (Golan settlers "are willing to go quietly", 21 July)? Estimated numbers for the pre-1967 population run at around 40,000, half of whom remained after the 1967 Israeli occupation, and anyone visiting the region would be hard-pressed to find signs that it had once been as densely populated as you claim.

Additionally, the majority of those inhabitants were concentrated in the northern part, in the same villages where the (mostly) Druze population lives today. The remains of Syrian villages Patrick Cockburn describes were mostly deserted during the period 1948-1967 or before, and some had been used as posts by the Syrian army.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is complicated enough without adding a non- existent Golan Heights refugee problem.


London SW7