06/06/2011, 00.00
ISRAEL-SYRIA

Protests continue on the border at Golan, 23 killed yesterday by Israeli fire

Hundreds of Syrian and Palestinian demonstrators tried to cross the border on the day of "Naksa" - the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War. More protests likely in the coming day.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - For the second consecutive day, dozens of Syrian and Palestinian demonstrators gathered today near Israeli border posts in occupied Golan Heights, close to the Majdal Shams. Yesterday on the day of “Naksa” (the Arabic term for Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War), hundreds of Syrian and Palestinian protesters tried for several hours to breach the barbed-wire border. According to the Syrian authorities, 23 people were killed in the clashes and 350 were injured. Israel says that these figures are “greatly exaggerated'' and accused Syria of having triggered the tension in Golan to divert international attention from the repression of the popular protests that have been ongoing in the country for month. 

The Israeli army said soldiers opened fire "with precision" on the legs and feet of those who tried to breach the border. The explosions of an antitank mines, set off by Molotov cocktails, caused most of the casualties. None of the protesters managed to cross the border, unlike the events that occurred on 15 May, the day when the Palestinians remember the "Nakba” - or catastrophe – which refers to the establishment of the Israeli State.

The comments in Israeli newspapers point out the difficulty of the situation. “The Israeli approach seemed designed to be self-defeating. The IDF is trapped between two contradictory goals: preventing the border from being breached and Israeli sovereignty from being impinged upon (though that is controversial in itself, as the rest of the world doesn't recognize the Golan as Israeli land), and keeping enemy casualties to a minimum when civilians are involved,” wrote Haaretz. The Jerusalem Post warns: "All observers are united in the belief that hostile elements will try to organize larger border incidents soon.”

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