Enormous oil reserves have recently been discovered in the highly disputed territory of Golan Heights. Israel has occupied the region since taking it from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War, but the area is still recognized by the international community as Syrian territory. With the discovery comes massive geo-political implications, leaving some wondering if it could serve as the catalyst to throw the region into complete chaos.
Despite Israel's claim to the region, the United Nations recognizes Golan Heights as Syrian territory and has declared Israel's laws and jurisdiction null and void without international legal effect. U.N. Resolution 242 calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the area, but Israel disagrees with the wording and says the territories are disputable, according to RT.
The new oil reserves, estimated to contain billions of barrels of the black gold, were found in an area with a 1,150 feet thick strata, about 10 times larger than the global average, but the specific quantity or quality of the oil will not be known until drilling starts, according to the Daily Mail.
Syria now has renewed motivation to forcefully take the area back from Israel and is expected to contest Israel's claim to the oil. With Russia, Iran and possibly even China backing Syria, some fear things could get ugly, especially with the ongoing civil war taking place just across the border in Syria, where Russia has already established a military presence, reported Fox News.
Israel now faces the logistical, monetary and security challenges of protecting the future oil fields so close to the war zone, and the country is not likely to willingly relinquish control anytime soon. Israel currently consumes 270,000 barrels of oil a day and imports up to three quarters of its oil from the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, according to RT. The new discovery could make Israel energy-independent and, at the same time, provide a rich source of revenue.
And then there are the vital underground water sources in the area, which are Israel's main sources of fresh water.
The main oil site is located close to the town of Katzrin, which sits in the northeast off the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Afek Oil and Gas, an Israeli subsidiary of the U.S.-based Genie Energy, discovered the oil after it was given the green light to drill in December 2014, but it's not yet clear whether the reserves can be technically or economically produced, according to UPI.
The oil company is reportedly backed by former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp and Fox, according to the Daily Mail.