Middle East

'Ottoman archives prove Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon'

Lebanese mayor says Ottoman archives prove Shebaa farms have belonged to Lebanon since 1918

Mahmut Geldi   | 03.05.2019
'Ottoman archives prove Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon'


Ottoman-era records prove that a longstanding group of farms in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has belonged to Lebanon since 1918, contrary to Israeli claims, according to the local mayor.

"Shebaa Farms have belonged to our ancestors since 1918, and we have documents from the Ottoman archives to prove that it is Lebanese territory," Muhammad Saab, mayor of the Lebanese town of Shebaa, told Anadolu Agency.

"These documents are now available in Turkey and the UN."

Saab added that the farms, which Israel has been occupying since 1967, are very important for the inhabitants of the region, who earn their living from agriculture.

Saab said the Lebanese continued to cultivate the occupied Shebaa Farms until 2000 with permission from the Israeli army.

But since 2000, when the Israeli army withdrew from southern Lebanon, it stopped allowing people of the region to go to their land to farm, he added.

- Ottomans left behind ‘grand legacy’

Kassem el Kadiri, who heads the local council of the village of Kfar Shuba, said: "The Ottomans left behind a grand political, historical, and cultural legacy, despite all attempts of manipulation and misinformation by the West and its collaborators."

Expressing his happiness at recently meeting Hakan Cakil, Turkey's ambassador to Lebanon, Kadiri said, "a hundred years of longing is over," referring to the Ottoman withdrawal from the region a century ago.

Kfar Shuba is a village in Hasbaya in southern Lebanon’s Nabatieh Governorship, bordering Israel and the Golan Heights.

"Our forefathers and the residents of the area owned documented properties in the era of Sultan Abdulhamid II," said el Kadiri, referring to one of the last Ottoman sultans.

"Even up to the [empire’s] collapse, the Ottomans never left any school here without a teacher. Now the people here love and respect [Turkish] President Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he added.

- 13 farms

Shebaa Farms, strategically located on the Syrian and Israeli borders in southeastern Lebanon, include a total of 13 farms. Of these, 12 farms spread over an area of ​​some 25 square kilometers under Israeli occupation, with only one remaining within Lebanon's borders.

When the Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it refused to withdraw from Shebaa Farms, claiming they were Syrian territory. The UN also did not want Israel to withdraw from the region, since it did not have a decision recognizing it as Lebanese territory.

On March 25, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation officially recognizing the Golan Heights as Israel's territory. The move swiftly drew international condemnation.

Israel seized roughly two-thirds of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 -- an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

* Writing by Vakkas Dogantekin

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