GOLAN HEIGHTS — Israel is a nation lacking in energy reserves, but a recent report suggests the country hopes to exploit the chaos of the Syrian civil war to access new sources of oil.
Israel struggles to meet its energy needs due to a lack of fuel reserves, but a new project in the occupied Golan Heights seeks to reverse this trend by tapping into new sources of oil, according to Paul Fallon, a legal researcher from the human rights group Golan Marsad, in a report published Tuesday on the Electronic Intifada, a Palestinian news and advocacy site.
The three-year program to explore for new fuel sources is led by Afek Oil and Gas Company and allows the company to drill up to 10 exploratory wells. The Israeli energy company is a subsidiary of Genie Energy, a Newark, New Jersey-based corporation. According to The Times of Israel, Genie’s “heavyweight investors” could include “[f]ormer US vice president Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch” — a sign of ongoing ties between Israel, the U.S. government, and the world’s richest “1%.”
“Afek claims on its website that Syria’s occupied Golan Heights is part of the ‘State of Israel.’ The company was granted a petroleum exploration license by the northern regional planning and building committee, in direct violation of international law by completely ignoring the Annex to the Fourth Geneva Convention — which applies to the occupied territory.
In February, an Afek subsidiary started drilling its first exploratory well and drilled to a depth of 1,000 meters. The samples extracted are now undergoing analysis and drilling continues. In the event that the company finds oil, it will request the required licenses to begin the production stage.”
Israel first claimed the Golan Heights in 1967, during the Six-Day War. Multiple U.N. resolutions have condemned the country’s ongoing occupation of the region. Fallon continues:
“Despite international criticism, Israel’s inherently discriminatory and exploitative policies inside the Golan continue without sanction. Israeli ministers have voiced their desire to capitalize on the destabilization of Syria as an excuse to cement Israel’s illegal hold on the territory.”
The Times of Israel’s Melanie Lidman reports that Israeli environmental activists also object to the drilling. Plans were delayed last year for further environmental assessment, and activists feared drilling activities could be especially polluting, as much of the oil reserves in the region are in the form of shale gas, which requires hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to access.
Since drilling began in February, the Afek oil well has become a tourist attraction, further supporting the notion that drilling is part of an overall plan to normalize the occupation of the region over the objections of world authorities. “Israel has doubled its own efforts to colonize the Golan as the world’s attention has been focused on the bloodshed in the rest of Syria,” wrote Patrick Strickland in an Electronic Intifada report from July 20 which details numerous illegal or questionable actions in the region, from military incursions into refugee camps to visits from notoriously racist Zionist politicians.
Syria had its own plans for its “dwindling energy reserves,” which earned the nation $4 billion annually before it collapsed into civil war, according to a 2012 opinion piece by Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar. These plans included a $10 billion dollar deal to build a pipeline through Syria, Iran and Iraq, and possibly into Lebanon.
Yet the ongoing destabilization in the region left those plans in disarray, and there is evidence that Israel contributed directly to that chaos. Israel has a “heavy hand” in fueling the Syrian civil war, according to an analysis Richard Silverstein published on MintPress News last month. Allegations have included providing weapons and medical assistance to wounded al-Qaida fighters in the region.