Near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, hundreds of protesters, many of whom arrived from Damascus, streamed down a hillside and marched toward the frontier, carrying Palestinian and Syrian flags and chanting “Palestine is Arab!” and “the Golan is Syrian!”
Unlike a similar effort last month, in which marchers from Syria caught the Israeli army unprepared and breached the frontier, soldiers Sunday were waiting for the demonstrators and used gunfire to hold them back.
When scores of marchers tried to cross a trench and earth berms topped with razor wire that had been put up by the Israeli military to block their approach, army sharpshooters opened fire from a border fence about 150 yards away.
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,
“There are extremist forces around us who are trying to breach our borders and threaten our communities and citizens,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in remarks before the weekly meeting of his cabinet. “We will not allow them to do so. I have instructed the security forces to act with the maximum restraint possible, but with determination to protect our sovereignty, borders, communities and citizens.”