Around 20 pro-Palestinian protesters were killed when Israeli forces opened fire as they crossed the border from Syria into the disputed Golan Heights territory.
Another 300 were reportedly wounded in this latest round of protests which comes only three weeks after Israeli soldiers shot dead 13 Palestinian protesters on Israel’s border with Lebanon and Syria during protests marking what Palestinians call the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of Israel’s founding in 1948.
This latest protest was to mark the 44th anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The demonstrators came down a hilltop overlooking the village of Majdal Shams towards the disputed border waving Palestinian flags and throwing the occasional stone.
Israeli troops reportedly broadcast warning messages saying: “Anyone who comes close to the fence will be responsible for their own blood. Anyone who tries to cross the border will be killed.”
Israeli officials claim 12 protesters were wounded when soldiers shot at their feet while Syrian state television claimed 20 had been killed.
Israel has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of allowing the Golan Heights protests to try to draw international attention away from his bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protestors who are revolting against his authoritarian rule.