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Protesters on Syrian border Photo: AFP
Protesters on Syrian border Photo: AFP
 
 

IDF: Protesters caused their own deaths

Probe of 'Naksa Day' events reveals Syrian protesters ignited minefields, threw firebombs without preparing extinguishers. IDF called three ceasefires to allow Red Cross to evacuate wounded, but protesters used this to gain ground

Hanan Greenberg
Latest Update: 06.06.11, 13:10 / Israel News

The IDF said Monday morning that many of the Syrian protesters who stormed the border fence and Quneitra crossing in honor of 'Naksa Day' were responsible for their own deaths by igniting mine fields on the border.

 

Meanwhile the army also announced at around 11:30 am that although the border demonstration had ended by late Sunday night, many were gathering once again in an area nearby. No violence was reported.

 

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The Associated Press reported that Syrian police are preventing pro-Palestinian marchers from approaching the border. The report says police have set up a pair of checkpoints near the border and security forces have been telling people not to cross and sending them away.

  

 

Responding to Sunday's violence, IDF sources said the protesters who ignited minefields on 'Naksa Day' did not bring fire extinguishers with them and thus posed a danger to themselves and others by behaving irresponsibly. Others threw firebombs near Quneitra crossing to the same effect, they said.

 

The sources are also assuming that many protesters were hurt or killed as a result of the Red Cross's inability to reach them, due to protesters' refusal to cease violence in order to allow for medical evacuations.

 

IDF officials say commanders ordered three ceasefires, each of which were taken advantage of by the protesters in order to gain ground.

 

Many protesters remained on the border throughout the night but most had dispersed by morning, an IDF source said, stressing that soldiers were still on high alert for additional breaches of the fence.

 

Dolan Abu Salah, the mayor of Majdal Shams, was unconvinced that the protesters had dispersed, claiming that they had probably gathered on a hill known to be unobservable from Israel.

 

Police still surround the Druze village and the IDF has declared the village a closed military zone, though residents continue to move around at will and daily life continues normally, aside from a school strike. Checkpoints have been set up around the village in order to prevent residents from reaching the border and joining protests.

 

Meanwhile, the IDF continues to investigate Sunday's events. Syria claims 23 protesters were killed on the border and 350 injured, but the army says that number is a gross overestimate.

 

Hundreds of Syrians, most of them Palestinian refugees, stormed the border near Majdal Shams and the Quneitra crossing in honor of 'Naksa Day', which marks the "Arab downfall" of the Six Day War.

 

They were prevented from crossing by IDF troops, who were prepared due to a similar border breach on 'Nakba Day' last month.

 

Sources from the Syrian Opposition claim that President Bashar Assad's regime, under fire from civilians vying for overhauling reform recently, offered to pay demonstrators who join in the border protests $1,000 for participating, or give their families $10,000 in the event of their deaths.

 

AP and Ahiya Raved contributed to this report

 

 

First Published: 06.06.11, 09:47

 

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