For the second time in three weeks, Israeli forces opened fire on pro-Palestinian protesters, killing as many as 20 (that figure comes from Syrian television by way of the BBC, and is disputed by Israel).
Israel Defense Forces shot at a crowd marching Sunday from the Syrian border toward the Israel-controlled Golan Heights in a demonstration marking the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.
Last month, the IDF fired at demonstrators on Israel’s Independence Day and Palestinians’ “Nakba Day” (“Day of Catastrophe”).
The IDF reported that soldiers first tried to ward off demonstrators with verbal warnings and shots fired into the air.
Avital Leibovich of the Israeli military is quoted by the BBC as saying, “This is an attempt by the Syrian regime to divert the world’s attention from the Syrian bloodshed that has been taking place in recent weeks.”
Apparently it’s OK to shoot civilians if you’re tricked into it by another country that shoots civilians ... or something.
The demonstration was just one of many that took place in and around Israel on Sunday, and was not totally unexpected. The Wall Street Journal reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the IDF to act with “resolve” to prevent Palestinians from reaching the Golan Heights and to protect Israeli towns and cities. But is it going too far when “resolve” means killing protesters? —BF and PZS
Israel’s military said its soldiers shouted warnings in Arabic and fired warning shots in the air, before aiming at the legs of those who had reached the fence.
After live gunfire failed to disperse the crowds, Israeli troops fired volleys of tear gas over the border. Many people fled while others lay on the ground.
Syrian TV said more than 300 protesters had been wounded.
AP / Ariel Schalit
Pro-Palestinian protesters try to rescue a wounded man after he was shot by Israeli troops along the border between Israel and Syria.