Thirty years after Israel conquered the Golan Heights from Syria, in what Israelis have said was an entirely defensive operation, the defense minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, has been quoted as saying that the capture was largely the product of greed.

In frank and startling conversations held in 1976 and printed for the first time this week, Dayan is quoted as saying that kibbutz leaders from Galilee persuaded the prime minister at the time, Levi Eshkol, to attack the Golan on the fourth day of the 1967 Six-Day War because they wanted the land.The standard Israeli justification for the battle of the Golan has been that Syrian troops had been relentlessly shelling Israelis, and that the situation had grown intolerable.

This is what Dayan said nine years later:

"The Syrians opposite them were soldiers who shot at them, and they certainly didn't like that. But I can say with absolute certainty that the delegation that came to convince Eshkol to ascend the Golan did not think about these things. They thought about the land of the Golan.

"I know what went on. I saw them, and I spoke with them. They didn't even try to hide their lust for that soil. That's what guided them."

Those and other of Dayan's thoughts were set down on paper in 1976 by Rami Tal as they sat in Dayan's Tel Aviv garden. Tal, now a senior editor at the publishing house for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, asked permission to record Dayan's words.

Dayan agreed on condition that they not be published without his permission. Tal, who printed them in Yediot Aharonot's Pass-over supplement this week, said that after Dayan died in 1981, the transcripts sat in a drawer for 15 years.

Last year, he showed them to Yossi Ginossar, a former high official in the Shin Bet security service and a confidant of Dayan's who urged that they be published. Tal sought permission from Dayan's daughter, Yael, who also agreed they were of great historical importance and should be published.

Apart from his assertion about the cause of the Golan battle, Dayan also spoke of the Syrian attacks on the Israeli kibbutzim and asserted that they were the result of Israeli aggression.

He said: "Eighty percent of the incidents worked like this: We would send tractors to plow in an area of little use, in a demilitarized zone, knowing ahead of time that the Syrians would shoot. If they didn't start shooting, we would tell the tractors to advance until the Syrians would get aggravated and start shooting. We used artillery, and later the air force became involved."

Dayan said this was the policy for years, and that former northern military commanders, later including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, consistently used such tactics.

He said that after the 1948 war of independence, Israel was unhappy with the cease-fire lines and wanted to change them "through military actions that were not quite at the level of war. The idea was to seize an area and hold onto it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us."

Syria has long maintained that it was not the aggressor in the 1967 war.