U.S. And Israel Accuse Syria Of Provoking Border Clashes On Nakba Day

Palestinian protest

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The U.S. and Israel have accused Syria of inciting clashes along Israel’s borders that led to the death of at least 14 people on ‘Nakba’ day, or the day of catastrophe.In a press briefing spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. regrets the deaths but believes Israel has the right to secure its borders. In response to a question about Syria’s role in the demonstration Toner said:

Well, we do think that this is an effort by the Syrian Government to play a destabilizing role. They’re – it’s clearly an effort by them to take focus off the situation that’s happening right now in Syria, and it’s a cynical use of the Palestinian cause to encourage violence along its border as it continues to repress its own people within Syria.

During a briefing on Monday, White House press secretary John Carney expressed similar concerns:

Well, we certainly think that there’s a history of that and it seems apparent to us that that is an effort to distract attention from the legitimate expressions of protests by the Syrian people and from the harsh crackdown that the Syrian government has perpetrated against its own people.

It has been argued that it is impossible for Assad’s regime not to know about the crowds because crowds are not allowed to gather at the Golan border that is strictly monitored by both sides, and there have been no significant demonstrations in the area in recent years. 

Meanwhile Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Meron Reuben has filed an official complaint with the UN:

In the days leading up to yesterday’s incident, Israel alerted a number of parties about the explosive potential of plans for violent incidents on the so-called “Nakba Day.” Despite these warnings from Israel, violent demonstrators broke down fences and crossed over the agreed disengagement line from the Syrian side.

All signs indicate that this incident could not have taken place or been organised without the knowledge of the Syrian authorities, who in previous years have helped to ensure that protests on the so-called “Nakba Day” occurred peacefully. This breach of the disengagement line between Israel and Syria from the Syrian side raises disturbing questions about whether certain actors in our region are seeking to such provocations as a cynical distraction from other issues.

The move has been seen as a desperate bid to secure Assad’s presidency by winning over the support of Syria’s middle class that have yet to take sides.