Hundreds of Palestinian rioters repeatedly tried to infiltrate Israel throughout
Sunday in two locations on the Israeli-Syrian border, but were rebuffed by an
IDF determined to prevent a repeat of 'Nakba' day scenes in which activists
spilled into Israeli territory.
Syrian television claimed 20 activists
were killed and 225 were wounded in the disturbances, although the claims could
not be independently verified.
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"The responsibility for the incidents and
the casualties falls on those carrying out these provocations, and on all those
who encouraged them to act in this way," said Defense Minister Ehud
As night fell on Sunday, an unknown number of rioters encamped
themselves in the area, raising the possibility of a drawn-out confrontation
that could last days.
Early on Sunday morning, Palestinians from the
suburbs of Damascus were bused to the Majdal Shams border area, and to the
abandoned Syrian border town of Kunetra.
They amassed at the border
without interference from Syrian troops, in what the IDF described as a
provocation by Syrian dictator Basher Assad that was designed to distract
world attention away from the ongoing slaughter of protesters in Syria by
The Reform Syria opposition website said on Sunday that the 'Naksa' protesters
were poor farmers who were paid 1000 dollars by the Syrian regime to arrive at
the border. The source also claimed that Syria has promised 10,000 dollars to
the families of anyone killed in the disturbances.
Soon arriving at the Majdal Shams area, a group of some
150 activists broke away from the others and descended a steep hill on the
Syrian side, advancing towards the Israeli border.
IDF soldiers shouted
warnings in Arabic via loudspeakers asking the Palestinians to refrain from
attempting to cross the international frontier, adding that those who would
would were endangering their lives.
The activists ignored the calls,
crossed the Syrian border fence and made their way towards an Israeli forward
border fence erected by IDF engineers in recent weeks, entering a mined
“When the demonstrators continued toward the Israeli fence, shots
were fired at their lower bodies. We know of 12 injuries," an IDF spokeswoman
told The Jerusalem Post
Thursday at noon.
Meanwhile, at Kunetra, a second
infiltration attempt was underway.
Between 200 to 300 demonstrators
amassed. In the area, and climbed on the roof of an abandoned cinema, from where
they began hurling rocks at security forces.
Four land mines exploded on
the Syrian side of the border, after the rioters threw Molotov cocktails, which
exploded in a field, starting a fire which then set off the
The IDF was unaware of the number of casualties caused by the
Throughout the pitched battles, paramedics on the Syrian side
of the border requested that the IDF grant them ceasefires to clear the wounded.
The IDF agreed to the requests, but then observed activists exploiting the quiet
to try and cut the border fence, bringing the truce to an end.
has learned its lessons [from Nakba day] quickly,” said IDF Spokesman, Brig.
Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai. “This is an army that investigates itself and
learns. We can see this [today],” he added.
Throughout the disturbances,
two armed suspects were identified near the border fence in Kunetra, though
their identity was not established.
On several occasions, waves of
activists rolled over front-line ditches and approached the border, drawing fire
from IDF forces overlooking the area.
An unprecedented escalation in the
disturbances took place towards the evening hours, when dozens of Druse youths
from the town of Majdal Shams on the Israeli side of the border began hurling
large rocks and bricks at IDF forces on the border.
Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the situation was generally
quiet throughout the day within Majdal Shams until the evening hours, when a
group of around 100 local protesters made their way down to the area where
police were stationed near the Syria border fence and began throwing rocks at
Rosenfeld said police immediately responded with tear gas and
dispersed the crowds after around 20-25 minutes, making several arrests of
locals in the process.
Rosenfeld said that after the protesters were
dispersed police met with local leaders in Majdal Shams in order to calm the
situation on the ground.
He added that no police were injured in the
clashes with Majdal Shams locals.
As the sun set, the IDF made an effort to disperse the rioters once and
for all, firing a barrage of tear gas at them, which succeeded in pushing the
activists away from the border.
The IDF expressed satisfaction at
Lebanon's decision to ban activists from approaching the Israeli border, a
decision which led organizers in Lebanon to cancel their events. "In Lebanon, we
have seen a show of sovereignty by the Lebanese army," Mordechai said.
high-level Iranian delegation toured the border area in southern Lebanon on
Thursday, Channel 10 reported.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas members
dispersed a planned mass march towards the Erez border crossing, media reports