Daily Israel Report

IDF Continues to Pursue Syrian Infiltrators in Golan

One Syrian was arrested this morning; the IDF is looking for others. IDF is praised for acting with restraint, criticized for not being ready.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/16/2011, 9:41 AM / Last Update: 5/16/2011, 9:33 AM

Ehud Amitun, Tatzpit

The IDF continues to pursue Syrian infiltrators into the Golan Heights, following yesterday's violent burst through the fence. One Syrian was arrested this morning, and the IDF is looking for others. The IDF has been praised for acting with restraint, as well as criticized for not being prepared.

The IDF arrested last night the organizers of Sunday’s mass demonstrations in the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights. The protests, held on both sides of the Israel-Syria border, were in honor of Naqba Day - the "catastrophe" that the Arabs consider Israel's declaration of independence.

They began with rocks thrown at a small IDF force from both sides, led to the breaking down of a fence and the infiltration of over 100 Syrians, and subsequent IDF shooting that killed four Syrians.

The organizer suspects are being questioned regarding whether they received Syrian or Iranian support.

The mob of infiltrators returned to Syria Sunday evening, though some individuals remained. One was found this morning in the area, being driven by an Arab taxi driver from eastern Jerusalem; both were arrested.

The IDF, explaining why its forces were thin at the site of the confrontation, says it expected the main thrust of the Syrian protests to be held further south, at Kuneitra. It was also lacking heavy crowd-dispersal equipment, having to use tear gas instead of water cannons. As one Majdal Shams resident said, “The young Syrians succeeded in doing what no Arab army has done – break through Israel’s border.” These matters will be further investigated in the coming days.

On the other hand, the IDF has been widely acclaimed, even by residents of Majdal Shams, for having behaved with great restraint and shooting only when absolutely necessary. Defense sources said there could easily have been 100-200 casualties, instead of four.

Brigade Commander Col. Shukrun, who commanded the event, ordered his soldiers to hold fire until necessary, and even then, to shoot only at the feet of adult men. Among the infiltrators were children between 10 and 12 years old, as well as women. Between 40 and 60 Syrian men were injured.