Syrians invade Golan Heights

Sunday, May 15, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Hundreds of Syrians broke through the border fence and entered the Golan Heights on Sunday to mark "Nakba Day" - the Day of Catastrophe when Israel was reborn as a nation-state.

The infiltrators clashed with Israeli soldiers, who were authorized to open fire. Four Syrians were reportedly killed in the clashes, and dozens more were wounded. At least five Israeli soldiers were also wounded.

A large number of Syrians are reported to have escaped deeper into the Golan Heights, and are being pursued by the Israeli army.

Arab demonstrators also massed on the Israel-Lebanon border, threatening to break through that barrier, as well. Israeli soldiers fired over the protesters' heads, prompting them to halt their advance, and Lebanese soldiers and members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) then stepped in to control the demonstrators.

In Gaza, demonstrators broke through Hamas checkpoints and approached the Gaza security fence forcing Israeli tanks to open fire to keep them back. Palestinian sources claimed dozens were wounded in the clash.

Violence also erupted in Jerusalem, where Arabs stoned police and Jewish motorists, and hurled firebombs at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital.

On Saturday, an Arab teen from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan was shot dead during a clash with Israeli security officers. It remains unclear who actually shot the youth, but officials feared his death would spark much more severe violence.

For months, pro-Palestinian activists around the world have been encouraging Arabs in neighboring states and territories to march on Israel en masse to mark the 63th Nakba Day. The largest promotional avenue was Facebook.

However, by mid-afternoon, it appeared the popular assault on the Jewish state would be less intense than feared. Nevertheless, more than 10,000 soldiers and police officers remained on high alert for any flare-ups.

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