IDF Syria Border 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The IDF continued
its increased presence along the border with Syria on Monday as some 100
demonstrators continued to linger at both Kuneitra and Majdal Shams
following repeated attempts to infiltrate the border on Sunday as part of Naksa Day protests, Army Radio reported.
the protesters were not attempting to cross the border on Monday
morning, the IDF remained prepared for a renewal of activity. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF is prepared for the possibility that protesters will continue to demonstrate at the border.
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Health Minister Wael al-Halki claimed 23 activists were killed, and 350
were wounded, in the clashes to commemorate the Palestinian “Naksa,” or
“setback” of the 1967 Six-Day War on Sunday, although the numbers could
not be verified. The IDF rejected the reports of 23 deaths as
"exaggerated," Army Radio reported on Monday.
Barak told Israel Radio that he believed the death count was under 20.
The Army said that
at least eight protesters who died in Naksa Day border clashes were
killed by land mines that exploded on the Syrian side of the border,
after the rioters threw gasoline bombs, which exploded in a field,
starting a fire that then set off the mines.
An IDF official said that it was clear the Syrian government gave the
green light for the protesters to move toward the border, and contrasted
this with the situation on Sunday in Lebanon, where the border was
“One can only suppose that there was a decision taken in Syria to
exploit the situation to change the subject from what is going on inside
Syria,” the official said. The official also asked whether the
Palestinians feel comfortable “being used as a propaganda tool by an
authoritative government butchering its own people.”
On Sunday, protesters massed at the border without interference from
Syrian troops, in what the IDF described as a provocation by President
Basher Assad that was designed to distract world attention away from the
ongoing slaughter of protesters in Syria by Assad’s troops.
The Reform Syria opposition website said on Sunday that the “Naksa”
protesters were poor farmers who were paid $1,000 by the Syrian regime
to come to the border. The source also claimed that Syria has promised
$10,000 to the families of anyone killed.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set the guidelines
on how to deal with the protests, telling the cabinet that “there are
extremist elements around us who are trying to break through our borders
and threaten our community and our citizens. We will not allow them to
“I’ve instructed the security forces to act with determination, with
maximum restraint – but with determination to maintain our sovereignty,
our borders, our communities and our citizens,” he said.
Yaakov Lappin and Herb Keinon contributed to this report