Despite several warnings from Israeli troops to stay away from the border, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators stormed the fence on Sunday until Israeli troops fired across the
Syrian frontier, scattering the crowd in a panic.
Syrian television is reporting at least four dead, including a 12-year-old boy, and 15 wounded, with the number of dead and wounded likely to increase.
Demonstrators Near Majdal Shams
The demonstrators were at the border near the Druse town of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights to mark the 44th year since Israel defeated the Arab armies in what has come to be known as the Six Day War, or the ’67 War.
Israel is accusing the Syrian government of cynically instigating the border tension to draw domestic attention away from the internal Syrian crackdown of dissidents within its own borders, which has been escalating into a bloodbath in recent days.
Restraint Promised by Israel
Israel had assured Syria and the world community to prevent a repetition of the deadly outcome of a similar protest last month. In May hundreds of demonstrators were able to enter the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, directly clashing with Israeli military personnel. That confrontation marked the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in May of 1948, a day known in the Arab world as “Naqba” or “Catastrophe” Day. This month thousands of Israeli soldiers were mobilized and put on alert in anticipation of a similar clash in the hope of avoiding bloodshed. Unfortunately that was not to be.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that,
“Unfortunately, extremist forces around us are trying today to breach our borders and threaten our communities and our citizens. We will not let them do that.”
Netanyahu added that the military was ordered to show “maximum restraint.”