Syria blocks new border protest

Syria blocks new border protest

Israel sees Damascuss hand in Golan clashes which killed 28 Palestinians

The toll of demonstrators killed trying to break through into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights rose to 28.

Syrian police set up a pair of checkpoints, including one a kilometre from the border. Nearly 20 protesters began walking down a hill leading to the border when two police officers blocked their advance by extending their arms. Protesters passed Syrian and UN outposts without impediment on Sunday and during a similar border rush three weeks ago, and it was not clear why Syrian forces intervened on Monday.

The repeated attempts to challenge the borders play into widespread Israeli fears that the Palestinians will not make do with a state on lands captured in 1967, but want to take over all of historic Palestine, including present-day Israel.

Syrian role

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak suggested that the Syrian regime might have instigated Sunday’s border unrest — and similar unrest three weeks ago — to deflect attention from its crackdown on its own protesters. At least 35 Syrians died in a government crackdown in the country’s north over the weekend.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel would file a complaint to the UN “concerning the Syrian regime’s cynical manipulation of its own citizens in order to generate violent incidents on the border.”

Barak also predicted that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been irreparably weakened by the uprising. “I think Assad will fall,” Barak told Israel Radio on Monday.

Human rights groups say more than 1,200 people have died in the crackdown against anti-government protesters in Syria since March. Assad has coupled military operations with symbolic overtures towards the opposition, including an amnesty for many prisoners and a call for national dialogue.

The instability in Syria, Barak said, rules out current peacemaking prospects. Israel and the Syrians last held talks in 2008.

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