Majdal Shams Residents Unhappy With Syria Infiltration Attempts

Border town has become flash point in recurring Israeli-Palestinian skirmishes both on Nakba Day last month as well as Naksa Day.

The Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams was the site yesterday of most of the attempts to cross illegally from Syria into Israel for the second time in three weeks - to the dismay of many residents of the Druze village.

On May 15, more than 100 people crossed the border fence from Syria into Israel to mark Nakba Day, the anniversary of the establishment of Israel. Yesterday, on Naksa Day, the 44th anniversary of the beginning of the Six-Day War, Israeli forces were able to repel the mass infiltration attempt.

Majdal Shams
Yaron Kaminsky

One village resident complained yesterday that the unwanted attention had affected local tourism. "The Nakba Day events damaged the image of the village," he said. "The cherry harvest is starting and people aren't coming. We expected a lot of visitors, but it's not happening. There were a lot of cancelations at guesthouses and hotels.

All the same, hundreds of Majdal Shams resident went to the border fence to watch the would-be infiltrators. Cafes closed down and classes were canceled because local authorities feared clashes. On the Golan side, some people waved Syrian and Palestinian flags, and dozens shouted encouraging slogans to the would-be infiltrators.

But some said the protesters were not representative of most of the village residents. "There is a minority that is trying to exploit this day for political needs, but they don't reflect most of the village," said one resident.