Israeli troops fired on pro-Palestinian protesters in Syria attempting to breach its frontier fence yesterday, killing as many as 14 people including a 12-year-old boy, according to reports.
Clashes on Israel's borders have emerged as a recent and troubling phenomenon for Israel as Palestinian youths, including many refugees living in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, seek to harness the energy of the Arab Spring's peaceful uprisings that have swept dictators from power.
The flare-up along the border fence erected in the occupied Golan Heights - a repeat of an incident less than a month ago - comes as Palestinians mark the anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel won a stunning victory over Arab nations, seizing the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and Sinai Peninsula.
Israel accused Syria of using the protests to deflect attention from the crackdown of its domestic uprising, but Syria said it was a spontaneous demonstration borne of deep frustration.
As Facebook activists urged Palestinians and their Syrian supporters to march on the border, Israel warned that it would act with determination but "maximum restraint" to defend its sovereignty and people. "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," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Events followed a similar pattern to protests on May 15, when protesters marched on the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers.
Thirteen people were killed and dozens broke through the fence on the Syrian border, breaching the frontier for the first time in decades.
The marches had been organised to commemorate Nakba Day, marking the mass displacement and exile of Palestinians in 1948.
This time, Israeli troops were braced for clashes. Marches on the Lebanese border were cancelled, but several hundred people congregated across from the Golan town of Majdal Shams, stopping short of a newly-dug trench and rolls of razor wire.
"Anyone who tries to cross the border will be killed," Israeli soldiers warned through megaphones as people waving Palestinian flags streamed towards the frontier. When protesters tried to cut the razor wire several metres short of the frontier fence, Israeli troops opened fire. Several people were seen being carried away on stretchers.