The town of Quinetra lies within a demilitarized zone, close to the Syrian – Israeli border, which is mediated by the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force. The town was devastated by Israeli forces in 1974 and what remains resembles a town which has suffered a series of powerful earthquakes. After the 35,000 Arab occupants were evacuated Israeli soldiers removed everything that was accessible, and sold the plundered materials on to Israeli contractors. The majority of buildings were then flattened by bulldozers, although this is disputed the Israelis who claim that the majority of this damaged was caused during the time the two sides were exchanging artillery fire. The town remains as a monument to the seemingly senseless brutality which was suffered at the hands of Israeli soldiers during conflict over the territory of Golan Heights.

As is the case with visiting any similar sites in Syria, going to see Quinetra is not a particularly easy task. In order to gain access to the heavily guarded site it is necessary to gain permission from the Ministry of the Interior. On our first visit to the ministry we were greeted by a young man wearing a scruffy t-shirt and tracksuit trousers holding a rifle. Quickly we were turned away, as is often the case in Syria when attempting to negotiate the bureaucratic hurdles, due to the permission slips only being issued on the day of a planned visit to Quinetra.

Back to the ministry two days later at our allotted time of 8:45 am, after a relatively short wait by Syrian standards of 20 minutes, we handed over our passports and were presented with a slip of paper with only very few questions asked.

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