Members of Israel's Druze community are following the anti-government protests in the southern Syrian city of Deraa with concern, but most of them do not believe President Bashar Assad will be ousted.
Some 500 Druze women gathered in the northern Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams on Monday to greet their children who are studying in Syria. The students traveled to Israel for Mother's Day.
Druze wave to relatives on other side of the border (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
Golan resident Ataf Abu Salah said local Druze "can't do much about (the developments) in Syria, because we live in occupied territory. We hope to one day return to our homeland, regardless of who is in power there. We are in touch with relatives there, but we seldom talk about politics."
Abu Salah refused to address the possibility of Assad's ouster, but did express hope that the situation in Syria will improve. "Civil uprisings bring about change – as we have seen in other countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. Maybe the protest in Syria will lead to a process of democratization that will also have an effect on the people in the street."
Many Druze residents of the Golan Heights do not hold Israeli citizenship and do not try to hide their loyalty to Syria. "We hope that eventually there will be a peace agreement and that we will once again live under Syrian rule," one Majdal Shams resident said.
"It is not at all certain that the riots will continue. We believe Assad will hang on," he said.
Other residents, who also asked to remain anonymous, said they hope the civil unrest throughout the Arab world will eventually lead to changes in Syria.
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