The tourists stood beside their sightseeing bus at the Israeli army observation bunker peering down the Golan Heights at Syrian soldiers manning their post in the valley.

In between the two forces stood a detachment of U.N. soldiers, keeping the peace on these windswept hills from which Syrian guns dominated Jewish settlements in the Galilee Valley Israel took over the heights during the 1973 war.

It is these heights, now occupied by Israel, that the Jewish state insists it will never give back to Syria. It is these same heights that Syrian President Hafez Assad refers to when he says his country will not give up "one inch" of occupied territory in any peace settlement.

Yet things are so quiet the Golan these days that the sounds of tanks and artillery have beene replaced by roars of farm tractors and tour buses. The Israelis use the occupied territory on the Golan Heights as a tourists attraction the same as they do the open gates along Lebanon's southern frontier.

While both Israel and Syria want the rockly, barren heights for strategic reasons, they are keeping their dispute within diplomatic channels.

Both sides agreed last week, without imposing any demonds, to a reneals of the U.N. peacekeeping force for another six months starting yesterday.

The mandate of the U.N. force, established three years ago as part of Henry Kissinger's shuttle dipolmacy, has been renewed routinely every six months for the past year and a half. Before then, it was subject last-minute bargaining by both sides.

This town, once a thriving farming community of 50,000 and a beautiful hillside country retreat for residents of Damascus, an hour's drive away, is now a ravaged area of destroyed buildings.

The Syrians say that Israeli troops deliberately dynamited and bulldozed Kuneitra when they pulled out following the 1974 disengagment agreement.

Israel has amiited to some of the distruction, but insists that most of it occurred in the fighting during the 1967 and 1973 wars.

In any case, the village now stands empty - a monument to the bitterness and hatred of 30 years of middle East war fare.

Israel has retained the fertile farmland on the sides of the hills that made Kuneitra prosperous, a Syrian soldier, wrapped in a Soviet greatcoat against the chill spring wind, can see Israeli farmers tilling the fields from his observation post atop the gutted hospital here.

The last Syrian checkpoint is just outside the center of this town. It is a modest affair - two small frame buildings and a wooden gate that is raised to allow U.N. forces through. The area is decorated with flowers planted in Israeli shell casings, and the only weapons on view are Soviet made automatic rifles.

The Syrian flag flies above the building. About 100 yards down the road, the U.N. flag flies over a similar checkpoint. Then, on the hill another 100 yards away, stands the Israeli bunker - somewhat more elaborate than either the Syrian or U.N. posts - with its flag flying above it.

U.N. personnel are the only ones who cross from one side of the line to the other, an even they must be checked by both the Israeli and Syrians before they can go through the gates.

Despite the calm appearance of the border, there is no friendship between the Israelis and the Syrians who man the checkpoints.

Unlike Cyprus, where Greek and Turkish Cypriot troops yell insults and curses across the line at each other, the Syrians and Israelis maintain a professional attitude.

But they literally will not let the other go one inch over the line.

The Syrian officer here, for example, said he was called by his Israeli counterpart for violating the disengagement agreement when he strayed a step over the line trying to check with troops at the U.N. post.

"He wrote me a note and said he wants peace," the Syrian officer said, "but he doesn't act that way."

The Syrians watch with binoculars, too, and any Israeli officer who crosses the line will also be accused of violating the agreement.