Around 100 Syrian Palestinian protesters infiltrated the Israeli northern border yesterday as protests took place on several fronts marking the Palestinian Nakba Day, a day commemorating the 1948 Arab defeat and the establishment of the State of Israel. Other incidents took place along the Lebanese border, in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
One Syrian protester was reported to have been killed by IDF forces as the army attempted to disperse the crowds entering Israel near the Golan Druze village of Majdal Shams. In another incident, 10 people were killed in clashes along the Lebanese border near the town of Maroun a-Ras. The IDF said that the Lebanese casualties were shot by the Lebanese army, which used heavy gunfire to keep protesters away from the border. In the West Bank, Palestinian youth clashed with the IDF near the Kalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem throwing stones and petrol bombs. While in Gaza, one Palestinian was killed and around 80 wounded when thousands marched towards an IDF post at the Nahal Oz and Erez border crossing.
Senior IDF officers said that in an effort to shift focus from domestic events happening in Syria, President Bashar Assad and Iran were involved in supporting the protests and the violent border infiltration that took place yesterday in Majdal Shams. The IDF also admitted that they were not adequately prepared for such a demonstration along the border but quickly deployed 60 soldiers to the village where the incident occurred.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he hoped calm and quiet would return quickly and said that Israel is determined to defend its borders and its sovereignty. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF used crowd dispersion techniques, but the number of people involved made it difficult. “We are only at the beginning of things and it could be that we will see even more complicated challenges of this kind,” Barak warned.