Despite reports that organizers of protests in Lebanon and Syria had cancelled their protests along the Israel-Syria border, hundreds rushed the border today. Though it is clear that not everyone was part of the group that announced the cancellation. In fact, today’s events are pretty clearly a Syria-sponsored act.
The Reform Party of Syria has released a statement, in which they say people are being paid $1,000 each to show-up and $10,000 to their families should any of them succumb to Israeli fire.
Quneitra crossing via travelblog.org
The Reform Party of Syria has learned today, from intelligence sources close to the Assad regime in Lebanon, that Syrians storming through the Golan Height next to the Quneitra crossing are Syrian farmers who have migrated in recent years from the drought-stricken northeast Syria to the south. Estimates put the number at 250,000 impoverished migrants.
Information received cite the regime has paid hundreds of these farmers $1,000 each to show-up and $10,000 to their families should any of them succumb to Israeli fire. In Syria, an average salary is about $200 a month and to these impoverished farmers, such a one-time sum can keep them economically afloat for six months.
Such tactic was used in the past by another defunct Ba’ath Party in Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, to pay Intifada-driven Palestinians the sum of $25,000 to their next-of-kin should they die throwing stones. That measure had a worldwide impact and it seems the Assad regime is using the same play from a twin playbook.
…It is obvious, with this action, Assad wants to divert the attention of the world away from his own massacres and brutality that resulted in some 70 deaths yesterday and about 30 today in Jisr al-Shoghour. RPS expects, on the basis of today’s success, for these operations of incursions to multiply in scope in the near future for two reasons: 1) Divert the attention away from Assad’s barbarism and savageries, and 2) Stand tall again in the eyes of the regime’s supporters whose morale has taken quite a beating the last 3 months because of the violence perpetrated by Assad against unarmed civilians.
CHALLAH @ The Jerusalem Post
Syrian television on Sunday reported that four people were killed and 10 injured along the Syria-Israel border in the Golan Heights near Majdal Shams, reportedly from IDF fire. The IDF spokesperson said that the only information it had on deaths on the border were Syrian reports and therefore, it could not confirm the number of people killed or if there were any deaths.
After several hours of clashes, IDF began allowing Red Cross teams access to the Syrian border area in order to evacuate wounded protesters, Channel 10 reported.
Two armed men were identified near the border fence in Kunetra, on the Syrian side of the border, the IDF Spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday afternoon.
There was no further official information about he identity of the gunmen, or their proximity to the border but a security official suggested that the men could be Syrian police or army forces
Prior to spotting the armed men, according to the IDF spokesperson, around 150 people managed to cross to the Syrian side of the fence, entering a mined zone between the two fences in the Majdal Shams area.
IDF forces were sending Arabic-language messages through loudspeakers over the border, warning that anyone approaching the fence would be killed.
Reuters has confirmed that the Syrians were throwing stones at the IDF soldiers. The IDF reported that the Syrians were tampering with the border fence. In addition there are reports from the IDF of firebombs being thrown by the Syrians. It should be noted that the deaths have not been confirmed by any independent observers. The IDF are being cautious regarding any reports stating the number of dead.
Update: It looks like the rioters knew exactly what was coming.
Muhammad Shchiber, one of the protestors said, “We knew in advance the security forces added more mines and that they will fire at us but we are determined to return despite the heavy fire.”
Here are two videos of the IDF warning the rioters.
In the video on the right the IDF is saying:
Stop! You are breaching an international border. We warn you not to damage security infrastructure. Whosoever attempts to violate Israel’s sovereignty or security infrastructure puts himself in jeopardy. Please return to Syria.
After with the IDF, Brian of London reports:
On the Syrian border the IDF had a three step process:
- Verbal warnings in Arabic
- Firing in the air
- Shoot specific protesters who touch the Israeli border fence in the FEET
In Hebrew the word for foot is a qualified extension of the word for leg so sloppy Hebrew can confuse leg, foot (and even toes). I asked specifically if the IDF Spokesperson meant feet. She said yes: they shot at the feet of protesters.
According to the IDF, Israel had warned Syria via the United Nations. The IDF is using minimal means to deal with the rioters. IDF prepared to use all means necessary to deal with rioters.
In one incident today, the IDF was asked by the Red Cross for a ceasefire of 30 minutes to evacuate the wounded. The IDF agreed and the Syrians then used the time to attempt to breach the border. The IDF is again reporting that when they tried to evacuate the wounded, the Syrians attempted to breach the border; they say it is the third time today.
Update: An anti-tank landmine exploded as protesters attempted to cross into Israel; Multiple injures being reported. The rioters are continuing to approach Israel’s border. Update: According to the IDF: Syrian protesters hurled firebombs @ IDF troops, causing fire & leading to explosion of 4 landmines on Syrian side
Update: The rioters have stolen Red Cross signs and are hiding behind them as they try to destroy the border fence.
Update: Syrian state-TV is now reporting that 12 people have been killed and over 225 injured. Once again, there is no confirmation from an independent observer. Sana (Syrian News Agency) is now reporting that 14 people were killed. In addition, they are claiming that the IDF fired phosphorous bombs. As ElderofZiyon notes:
Needless to say, the story does not show a single picture of a “martyr”, of bullet holes in an ambulance, or of any life-threatening injuries.
All of this is highly suspect, but watch to see Western news agencies starting to quote it as if it is true, without qualifications. Or, more likely, the wire services will quote the “death toll” without mentioning the more outrageous claims that make the death count look suspect.
CHALLAH @ Haaretz
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israel Defense Forces soldiers near a key West Bank checkpoint on Sunday, in rallies marking Naksa Day, the defeat of Arab armies by the hand of Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.
Near the West Bank city of Qalandiyah, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, IDF soldiers were confronted with hundreds of Palestinian protesters, firing tear gas and demonstration dispersal weaponry.
…Palestinians demonstrating near Mount Scopus in Jerusalem hurled firebombs at the back of the Hadassah University Hospital. No one was wounded in the incident and there were no reports of damage.
In Qalandiyah several hundred protesters began marching toward a local checkpoint. Police attempted to disperse those protesters by firing tear gas canisters. 20 protesters were lightly hurt.
CHALLAH @ The Jerusalem Post
Channel 10 reported that protesters threw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and burning tires in the direction of police forces, who responded by firing tear gas and shock grenades. As winds began blowing the gas back at police officers, security forces began firing rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the demonstration.
Muhammad Khatib, leader of the popular resistance committee in Bilin has been arrested at Qalandiyah.
Channel 2 is reporting that many of the protesters at Qalandia are left-wing activists and not ‘real Palestinians.’
Six people were arrested in the eastern portion of Jerusalem for throwing stones at Israeli security forces. 40 people were injured. In the video on this JPOST article, one of the pro-Palestinian protesters says that they have been under occupation for over 60 years! This would mean that Israel’s entire existence to her is an occupation; rather than Israel’s presence in the territories it gained during the 1967 war.
CHALLAH @ The Jerusalem Post
Inside Jerusalem, demonstrators clashed with border patrols in the neighborhoods of Silwan and Abu Tur, seven people were arrested for throwing rocks.
In Hebron, protesters threw rocks and bottles at a kindergarten in the Beit Hadassah. The children were brought inside and no injuries were reported.
Also in the West Bank, about 40 Palestinians and left-wing activists marched toward the Elon Moreh settlement attempting to break through the village’s gates.
Protesters set a small fire, which was extinguished, and were dispersed.
In Ramallah, a 200-person rally was gathered in Manara Square.
Hundreds of Palestinians also marched in commemoration of the “Naksa” in Gaza’s Beit Hanun.
So called Moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen has a lot to smile about these days. Here are some more details of what was in that letter that apparently went from President Obama to Abu Bluff last week.
U.S. President Barack Obama assured the Palestinian Authority that his administration is committed to a two-state solution and that a future Palestinian state will be independent and have territorial continuity, PA secretary general Tayeb Abdel Rahim said on Sunday.