Up To 22 Shot Dead

Jun 5 2011 @ 7:52pm

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No, not Syria, and not Yemen. It's Israel's turn now to fire live ammunition at protesters swarming the Syrian border on the Golan Heights. It's pretty clear that much of this was provoked by the desperate regime in Damascus, but nonetheless the sight of unarmed Arabs attempting to reclaim land occupied by Israel and being gunned down may be one we will become more accustomed to:

The army spokesman said that troops had fired warning shots before shooting at the legs of the demonstrators. The gunfire was accompanied by loudspeaker warnings in Arabic that anyone who approached the border fence was “endangering himself.” Despite the intermittent gunfire, scores of protesters continued to stream toward the border, planting flags and holding a mass prayer behind the earth berms. Other groups of protesters carried off casualties, struggling back up the hillside in Syrian territory.

Alas, not all the protests were nonviolent.

Another confrontation developed near the abandoned Syrian border town of Quneitra, where scores of protesters gathered on rooftops and near the fence with the Golan Heights, some hurling stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and warnings delivered via loudspeaker that “anyone who tries to cross the border will be killed.” Troops later opened fire when the crowd surged toward the border. SANA, the official Syrian news agency, said that a local hospital had received the bodies of 22 dead, and that more than 350 were injured, some critically. The Israeli army said earlier in the day that it knew of 12 casualties.

No doubt Netanyahu will see this as yet another reason to accelerate the settling and occupation of the West Bank, and more grist for his skepticism of anything close to a peace process. But the logic of the Arab Awakening is at Israel's borders now and on the West Bank. If the Palestinians are capable of non-violence, and if Israel continues to kill unarmed protesters, then the isolation Israel may feel at the UN this September could become even more profound.

(Photo: Demonstrators flee Israeli fired tear gas as they gather along Syria's border with Israel while trying to cut through a line of barbed wire and head into the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, as seen from the Druze village of Majdal Shams, on June 5, 2011 in Israel. Israeli troops opened fire on protestors from Syria who tried to cross a cease fire line in the occupied Golan Heights. The conflict comes on the 44th Anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War. By Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images.)