Israeli troops opened fire across the Syrian frontier today to disperse hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters who stormed the border of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, reportedly killing four people in unrest marking the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Mideast war. The Israeli military accused Syria of instigating the disturbances to deflect attention from its bloody crackdown on a popular uprising at home. State-run Syrian TV reported four dead, including a 12-year-old boy, and 15 wounded. There was no immediate confirmation of the report.
Israel had promised to prevent a repeat of a deadly protest last month. Thousands of troops were mobilized in anticipation of possible unrest. Despite Israel's warnings, hundreds of demonstrators—a mix of Palestinians and their Syrian supporters—passed by a Syrian police outpost early today and marched to the barbed-wire lined trench the Israeli military dug along the border after last month's unrest. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and threw rocks and trash over the fence, though none appeared to have crossed the line. As the crowd reached the border, Israeli troops shouted warnings and then opened fire, sending crowds of demonstrators running in panic. (Read more Israel and Palestinians stories.)