'20 dead' as Israeli troops fire on Golan Heights protesters
Israel was accused of shooting dead as many as 20 protesters on Sunday after Palestinian refugees and their Syrian sympathizers massed in the occupied Golan Heights.
By By Adrian Blomfield, Jerusalem7:29PM BST 05 Jun 2011
Hundreds of protesters came under fire as they advanced towards the fenced ceasefire line separating undisputed Syrian territory from the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.
The march, led by refugees intent on reclaiming their homes lost to Israel in an earlier war in 1948, was the second of its kind in just over three weeks. Four protesters were killed last month after they breached the border fence.
The protesters, who waved Palestinian flags and occasionally threw stones, did not get as close on Sunday, although some did cut their way into a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the fence.
As they approached, to cheers from Syrian citizens watching from rooftops in the Golan Heights, Israeli troops broadcast warning messages through loudhailers, saying: "Anyone who comes close to the fence will be responsible for their own blood. Anyone who tries to cross the border will be killed."
Israeli officials said at least 12 protesters were wounded when soldiers shot at their legs, but would not confirm reports from Syrian doctors and on state television in Damascus that 20 had been killed.
Israeli forces fire on Golan protesters 05 Jun 2011
Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian protesters 05 Jun 2011
Protesters said they were hoping to emulate Hassan Hijazi, who managed to reach his former home in the Israeli coastal city of Jaffa after the last protest before turning himself into the police.
"We want on this occasion to remind America and the whole world that we have a right to return to our country," said Mohammed Hasan, a 16-year-old refugee wounded in both feet.