After Nakba Day Violence, Normal Life Resumes in Majdal Shams

More than 100 infiltrators crossed the Syria-Israel cease-fire line at Majdal Shams, and a total of 14 infiltrators were killed on the Syrian and Lebanese borders.

One day after more than 100 infiltrators crossed the Syria-Israel cease-fire line at Majdal Shams, and a total of 14 infiltrators were killed on the Syrian and Lebanese borders, things returned to normal in the Golan Heights Druze town on Monday.

Children returned to school, farmers to their apple orchards, and others to their jobs in town, in Kiryat Shmona and elsewhere.

Majdal Shams IDF - Yaron Kaminsky
Yaron Kaminsky

"It's quiet, nothing's happening," said a local doctor, Samih Sfadi, seemingly amazed at the difference between Sunday's violence and yesterday's normalcy.

Nowhere was the contradiction more evident than in the streets of the town late Sunday night, just hours after clashes that claimed the lives of four people on the Syrian border and 10 in Maroun a-Ras on the Lebanese border.

Majdal Shams' restaurants, coffee houses and pubs, where the alcohol flows freely, were full. "Don't make the mistake of thinking we're part of Israel," a young local man, who would not give his name, told Haaretz. "We still feel part of the Syrian people, but at the same time we want to see change in Syria, we're waiting for democratization and liberalism," he said.

Another local man, Salman Kheir al-Din, said of the nightlife: "The young people here feel that they are citizens of the world, this is happening all over. People are exposed to the media and to different cultures."

Police continued to man roadblocks on all the roads leading to Golan Heights towns and were checking every car for Palestinian infiltrators from Syria who might have managed to stay in Majdal Shams.

Sources in the police's northern district said the decision to continue checking vehicles was made after the arrest Sunday night near Majdal Shams of a Palestinian from Syria who had been riding in a taxi driven by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem.

Police said the Israel Defense Forces had also detained two Palestinian infiltrators.

The sight of hundreds of Syrian Palestinians crossing from Syria into Majdal Shams is something people do not seem to have fully digested yet.

"It's had a great emotional impact on us," Sfadi said. "People can't stop talking about it and people are really living now with the feeling that this incident might symbolize the coming change. You have to understand: This border, which no one has gone near for 40 years and was so quite, is very easy to cross. No doubt something changed here yesterday, a kind of psychological barrier came down that was symbolized by the fence," he said.

One of the young people who had crossed the fence and reached the central square at Majdadl Shams told Haaretz that the move to cross the border had been planned and received a nod from the Syrian authorities. "We asked if we could go and they said yes, and we came in hundreds of buses. We got together in small groups and decided we'd get to the fence and hang Palestinian flags. One of the guys said he was worried about land mines exploding but we saw that where we were walking there were no mines or they weren't exploding, and that encouraged us to go on."