Israeli Left-wing Leader: IDF Used 'Excessive Force' in Naksa Day Protests

Former MK Uri Avneri says soldiers are 'trigger-happy' when it comes to Palestinians yet soft on 'violent' Jewish settlers; Israeli Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, calls IDF killing of protesters a 'war crime.'

Haaretz Service
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Uri Avneri, former MK and activist with Gush Shalom left-wing organization, said Sunday that the IDF used excessive force against the protesters in the Golan Heights. "The trigger-happy behavior stands out in particular when compared to the softness with which violent settlers are treated," he said.

Avneri conceded that a country has a right to defend its borders and prevent illegal entrance to its territory, yet added that "in order to effectively protect its borders, the state should first know where its borders are and have them recognized by the international community – and this is a decision which Israel has been avoiding for years."

Israeli soldiers takeing aim next to the Syrian-Israeli border fence near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights June 5, 2011. Credit: Reuters

"A state that trespasses its neighbors' borders, steals their land and erects settlements on them will have a hard time justifying actions taken to protect its own borders," Avneri said. "Contrary to what Prime Minister Netanyahu says, only a recognized and agreed upon international border – that is, a border based on the 1967 lines – is a defensible border."

Tens of Balad faction activists demonstrated at Shfaram junction on Route 70 Sunday afternoon in protest of the events taking place on the Israel-Syria border.

Balad chairman, Israeli Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, called the IDF's killing of protesters a "war crime," and accused the Israeli soldiers of "shooting in order to kill, with the intention of deterring similar demonstrations in the future.

"We must remember that the international border is at the Kinneret and not on the hill and Israel is the one trespassing that border, not the protesters," said Zahalka. "The protesters are obeying international law by wanting to return [to Israel] and maintain the right of return, and Israel is breaking the international law by shooting at them, preventing them from advancing."

Earlier Sunday, IDF 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 four protesters were killed, with 9 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.

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