The Syrian regime paid poor farmers in the north $1,000 to travel to the border at the Golan Heights border and challenge the IDF and another $25,000 to their families if they were killed, according to the opposition Reform Party of Syria.
The death toll in Sunday’s confrontation was reported at 23 by the government-controlled Syrian media, and the IDF is on high alert for more attempts on Monday to infiltrate into Israel.
The Reform party said that farmers, suffering from a severe drought, make less than the average Syrian salary of $200 a month, one-fifth of the amount of money they received to demonstrate and try to cross the border.
“It is obvious, with this action, [Syrian President Bashar] Assad wants to divert the attention of the world away from his own massacres and brutality that resulted in some 70 deaths yesterday [Saturday] and about 30 today in Jisr al-Shoghou,” the party's website said
The opposition party also expects more clashes so that Assad can “stand tall again in the eyes of the regime's supporters whose morale has taken quite a beating the last three months because of the violence perpetrated by Assad against unarmed civilians.”
The party’s platform specifies the strategic Golan Heights, captured by Israel in its defensive Six Day War in 1967, as part of Syria, but also believes in “peaceful negotiations.”
Its website added, “For Assad, winning through peace means also losing the war against his own people.”
More than 1,500 people have been killed and another 35,000 arrested or harassed by Assad’s forces in the eight-week uprising that has escalated from demands for reform to demanding his ouster as president.