Syrian TV report comes as hundreds of protesters gather near border with Occupied Golan Heights as Palestinians mark 44 years to the beginning of the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel Defense Forces soldiers opened fire at hundreds of Palestinians amassing near Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights on Sunday, firing tear gas and other demonstration dispersal weaponry in an attempt to break up the Naksa Day rallies.
Reports by Syrian media claimed six protesters were killed, with 13 others wounded. 500 Palestinians were reported to have arrived at the border, hiding from IDF fire in a ditch dug by the army after the Nakba Day protests on May 15, approximately 20 meters from the border fence.
The IDF spokesman did not confirm the reports of casualties, yet said that a dozen Palestinians were indeed wounded by “controlled fire from commanders on the ground.” Soldiers first warned the protesters with loudspeakers and shots in the air, and finally with shots to the protesters’ legs.
Protesters also approached the Israeli border in Quneitra in the northern Golan Heights, hurling stones across the border. IDF soldiers responded with demonstration dispersal weaponry; shots at protesters’ legs were reported in this sector as well.
Senior IDF officials have doubted Syrian TV reports regarding casualties in clashes with Palestinian protesters, saying that the soldiers fired only accurate sniper shots guided by senior officers on the ground. They added that they did not estimate any of the protesters were killed as a result of the fire.
Events began earlier Sunday, as dozens of Syrians amassed near the country’s border with Israel, while Israeli security forces braced for possible border clashes with protesters marking Naksa Day, the anniversary of the start of the 1967 Six-Day War.
Initial reports claimed that the protesters had begun to gather at the foot of what is known as “The Hill of Shouting,” opposite the Druze Golan town of Majdal Shams.
The Israel Defense Forces Northern Command went on high alert earlier Sunday ahead of a potential attempt by thousands of Palestinian refugees from the Damascus area to storm the border of the Golan Heights as a way of marking Naksa Day.
The IDF Central Command and Southern Command also declared a high alert in case of an outbreak of violence near the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, although the northern border seemed the most likely flashpoint for clashes.
The possibility that refugees will seek to storm the border from the direction of Maroun al-Rass in Lebanon, opposite Moshav Avivim, is considered less likely following the Lebanese army’s announcement that the entire area opposite the border with Israel is a closed military zone.