By William Tucker
On May 15, Palestinian protesters gathered at two border crossings and two international boundaries with Israel. It was at the borders with Syria and Lebanon where protesters breached the fenced areas that represent the border and began to pour into the Golan Heights and other areas in the north. Several people were killed and many others were injured when Israeli soldiers opened fire on the protesters after being attacked. Both Israel and Lebanon have taken this most recent border issue to the UN Security Council claiming provocation by the other. Israel has also accused Syria of instigating the border breach to take attention away from the ongoing massacre of Syrian protesters.
May 15 is Nakba, or disaster to the Palestinian people, which is a symbolic day as it was the beginning of the Israeli war for independence that ultimately led to the dispersal of many Arabs living in the former Palestinian mandate. This years protest was promoted on Facebook and reportedly modeled on the anti-government protests in other areas of the Middle East. Although a border breach did occur, the Israelis are unlikely to engage in any punitive measures against Syria or the Palestinian National Authority. The PNA would likewise be unwilling to spur the protests on as it can undermine the Palestinians position in the peace process, although other Palestinian groups may look to cause further chaos. In the days and weeks ahead we need to watch for any sign that some group will launch an attack to force a heavy handed response from the Israelis.
Map of Golan Heights: The Washington Institute of Near East Policy