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Protests as Israel starts Golan Heights drilling

Hundreds of Golan Heights residents and environmentalists from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel protested on Feb. 17 outside the Afek Oil & Gas facility north of Nahal El Al, where exploratory oil drilling began the previous night. Afek, a subsidiary of US-basedGenie Energy, won Israeli government approval for a three-year lease to drill 10 wells on 400 square kilometers  of the Golan Heights in September. Drilling was planned for mid-January but was delayed due to a court order won by environmental opponents. The Golan Heights is home to Lake Tiberias, Israel's main water source. Genie Energy is run by Effi Eitam, a former right-wing Israeli cabinet minister who currently resides in Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights, taken from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, was annexed by Israel in 1981. Following the Six-Day War, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, calling for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, including the Golan Heights. (Jerusalem PostMiddle East Monitor, Feb. 17)

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