Syrian protesters returned over border 311 (R).
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
The narrow streets of this picturesque mountain community were quiet Sunday
night, offering no hint of the dramatic events that rocked the generally sleepy
village just hours before.
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One Syrian was killed and dozens wounded when
IDF troops opened fire after several dozen demonstrators broke through the
security fence dividing the Golan Heights and Syria. Those who made it through
unscathed proceeded to one of the village’s main squares, chanting nationalist
slogans and waving Syrian and Palestinian flags.
By nightfall, little
remained of the celebration other than a Palestinian flag lodged in the cast-iron
hand of the square’s Druse warrior statue, and an image of Syrian President
Bashar Assad in the arms of one of the warrior’s companions.
too had thinned, with all of the infiltrators reportedly returned to Syria. A
few Israeli and foreign journalists milled about, hoping to catch a final photo
or a local’s sound bite before darkness set in.
At the plush Narkiss Cafe
at the entrance to the village, a handful of locals drank Goldstar and Heineken
while Channel 1 News, largely unwatched, flickered on a large projector screen.
The clientele here is educated and successful, and a bit ill at ease at Majdal’s
“I’m in favor of both Palestinian rights and the
defense of Israel,” said a man describing himself as a simple farmer, but whose
appearance and bearing suggested greater means.
“They have the right to
do what they want, but they didn’t do it the right way. They’re
distracting from what’s happening in Deraa and Baniyas,” he said, referring to
two flashpoint cities in the two-month-long Syrian uprising.
To his mind,
the bloodshed has convinced Syrians they have nothing to lose.
come to the conclusion that life and death are the same,” said the man on
condition of anonymity for concern over his own safety.
A female engineer
in her 30s took a more positive view of the infiltration.
“The people are
now awake; they’re breaking borders,” she said, hinting at the region-wide wave
of anti-government protests.
She too had little praise for
“Ninety percent of the people here are against him,” she said.
Asked why residents had held a number of rallies in support of the embattled
president since the start of the Syrian unrest, she responded with one word:
“The Assads have been in power too long,” she said, before
issuing a caveat. “But the people aren’t ready. Our culture is used to
dictators. Muslim culture is a bit anti-democratic. Still, we need
The polished farmer said he doesn’t care whether Assad stays
or goes, as long as his compatriots – the Golan’s Druse unanimously describe
themselves as Syrian – enjoy freedom and dignity.
“I wish Assad a long
life. But only if he gives us freedom and democracy. I don’t want to live
on my land and be humiliated.”