The Arab spring finally found its way to Israel's borders yesterday, with deadly results.
At least eight people were reported killed after Palestinians marched on three different frontier posts with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba (‘catastrophe’) of the founding of Israel on May 15, 1948, and the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis.
Two people were killed and more than 100 wounded after Israeli troops opened fire when 200 protesters broke through the border fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and marched to the village of Majdal Shams. The village has been under Israeli control since the 1967 Six Day War. It was the first time anyone had breached the heavily guarded border fence, which is flanked by minefields and patrolled by the UN, Israeli and Syrian forces.
Syria condemned the shootings as “criminal acts” by Israel, while Israeli officials said the deadly “provocation” bore “the fingerprints of Iran”.
“I instructed the Israel defence forces to act with maximum restraint but to prevent any infiltration into our borders,” said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Everyone should know that we are determined to protect our borders and our sovereignty.”
The worst incident occurred when thousands of protesters, transported to the southern Lebanese village of Maroun Al-Ras by bus threatened to break down the border fence after hanging flags on the barbed wire Israeli and Lebanese troops fired warning shots and five people were reported killed.