First Published: 2011-05-17

 

'They crossed minefields,' Golan residents marvel

 

In occupied Golan, many residents welcome pro-Palestinian protesters as they cross into Heights.

 

Middle East Online

By Majeda El Batsh - MAJDAL SHAMS

'The youths were brave'

Salman Fakhreddine watched in astonishment as Syrian protesters mourning the creation of the state of Israel ran across the heavily-mined border with the Golan Heights.

"When the youths began crossing the minefield, my heart was trembling with fear because at any moment a mine could have exploded," he said on Monday, a day after bloody clashes between Israeli troops and protesters.

Thousands of demonstrators had gathered along Israel's northern border with Lebanon and Syria, waving Palestinian flags, to mark the anniversary of Israel's creation, which they call the "Nakba," or "catastrophe."

On the Syrian side, police were deployed to try to stop the first wave of protesters, but they were quickly overwhelmed when a second group arrived. On the Israeli side, Fakhreddine said, troops were similarly unprepared.

"There was just one Israeli patrol, which called for back-up and then opened fire on the youths," he said.

Syrian medical sources said four people were killed in the incident and hundreds were wounded.

On the Lebanese side of the border, 10 people were killed by Israel for attempting to break the boundary fence, medics said.

In Majdal Shams, the Golan's largest Druze town, many residents still hold Syrian citizenship and came out to welcome the protesters as they crossed.

"People from the village came running and heard the shots. The youths were brave. We welcomed them all and participated in their demonstrations and joined their chants," Fakhreddine said.

"One of them said he came from Safed, another from Tarshiha," added Fakhreddine, referring to places now occupied by Israel.

"When they came in, I imagined how the refugee families crossed the border, heavy with luggage, on a day like that day, but in the opposite direction."

Elsewhere in Majdal Shams, pizza seller Abdullah Rabah said the protesters had broken through fear of the minefield, in which two locals were killed in 1975.

"We've lived for 60 years with the myth of the minefield," he said.

"It was a surprise for us," added Aref Abu Jabal, a local leader. "No one saw them (the protesters) coming. The Israeli army wanted to arrest them, but we allowed them to leave in safety and with dignity."

Arab residents of the Golan, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed, said they welcomed the protesters, offering them food and drink.

"The first guy I met was thirsty and asked for water. They came across the border without water to say that they want to return to their country and that they have no fear of death," said 29-year-old Nadine Safadi.

For Samih Ayub, watching Palestinian refugees pour over the border was a little like a dream, or even watching a film.

"The most important thing is that no one can stop the will of the masses and that what Arab armies have not been able to do, the Palestinians youths did."

 

Post-coup Turkey continues military shake-up

Egypt Christians hope for end to discrimination with new law

Morocco arrests 52 suspects planning to set up ISIS branch

HRW accuses Syria, Russia of using banned cluster munitions

Study says lack of exercise cost world $67.5 billion

Egypt former anti-graft head gets jail term for exaggeration

Rebels form 'supreme council' to run war-torn Yemen

France, Britain call for end to Aleppo siege

Al-Qaeda OKs breaking ties with Syria affiliate

Croatia arrests Kurdish man wanted by Turkey

Tunisian army kills two 'terrorists'

Turkey sees over 40% drop in visitors

Assad offers amnesty to Syria rebels if they surrender

Second France church attacker formally identified

Clinton camp accuses Trump of inviting foreign spying

Coalition opens formal investigation into Syria civilian deaths

Pope to journalists: 'World at war', but not a religious war

Turkey warns post-coup crackdown ‘not completed yet’

Egypt top Muslim cleric denounces murder of French priest

Russia denies meddling in US election campaign

Syria regime kills 16 civilians in Aleppo assault

Killer of France priest was 'Syria obsessed time-bomb'

Netanyahu defends war record after protest by parents of dead soldiers

44 dead in double bomb blast in Syria Kurdish city

Marketplace bomb in Yemen kills 7

Kuwait jails Shiite MP for insulting Arab Gulf states

Iran presidential election set for May 2017

ISIS claims deadly bombing in Syria Kurdish city

Bahrain tries prominent Shiite cleric

Turkey planning anti-Gulen army purge before coup

Turkey issues more arrest warrants for journalists

Israeli raid kills Hamas member said to be behind attack

Saudi condemns "in the strongest terms" deadly attack on France church

Egypt has asked IMF for financial support

Shabaab says suicide bomber was ex-Somali MP

Bahrain refers 138 ‘terror’ suspects to court

Brutal attacks reignite political friction in Germany

Weakened army still faces twin challenges in Turkey

Turkey detains top generals, prominent journalists in widening purge

Hamas 'summer camp' trains dozens of young people for war

Palestinians seek to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour Declaration

UN hopes Syria peace talks can resume late August

Israeli authorities destroy 11 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Libya demands explanation over presence of French troops

ISIS claims attack on French church in Normandy