Eyewitness: Israel’s 'blood harvest' in occupied Golan

An Injured protester in the Golan Heights.
Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hundreds of Palestinian and Syrian refugees marched on June 5 from Syrian-controlled territory to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Refugees in Palestine and elsewhere marked the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egyptian Sinai and Syrian Golan Heights.

On the frontier with the occupied Golan Heights, hundreds were injured and more than 20 killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire with live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators.

The march was the second in less than a month. Hundreds demonstrated on the frontier with the Golan Heights to mark Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day on May 15.

That time, many Palestinian refugees succeeded in crossing the fence into the Golan Heights. One refugee reached as far as Jaffa in Israel in search of his family’s former home.

Salman Fakhreddin is a political activist and the public relations officer of Al-Marsad, the Arab Center for Human Rights in the Golan (golan-marsad.org).

From the occupied Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams, where he still lives, Fakhreddin told ElectronicIntifada.net what he saw on June 5 and what the real threat to Israel is regarding popular demonstrations.

* * *

What happened on June 5 near Majdal Shams?

On June 5, hundreds of refugees from Syria — Palestinians and Syrians — marched to the ceasefire line near Majdal Shams in a place called the Valley of Tears. It was a demonstration in memory of the war of ’67 and the occupation by Israel of the Golan, West Bank and Gaza and Sinai.

When people reached the ceasefire line, Israeli forces were waiting with snipers. They began firing live bullets and they killed and injured hundreds of people. Twenty-three people were killed.

It is a blood harvest of the Israeli army. I think first they began shooting to kill and during the afternoon and at beginning of the night, they began firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

It means that the Israeli army was standing on its head and thinking with its feet. They dealt with the issue in the opposite of a humanitarian way.

They decided to kill people to frighten them into not continuing with the demonstration because they are afraid of the delegitimisation of the state of Israel and Israeli policy in the international community.





On the other hand, the demonstration yesterday and the demonstration on Nakba Day is an attempt to develop a culture of non-violence in the struggle against the Israelis, or what’s called the popular resistance.

In Israel, they want to stop this because they are afraid knowledge of it will reach the international community, and that the internal Israeli community will join this peaceful struggle against colonialism and apartheid.

For that reason, they chose to kill people first and then to shoot them with tear gas.

Israel has claimed that the protesters were a “security threat” to Israel, despite the fact that they were unarmed. What is the real threat of these marches?

The real threat is to Israeli legitimacy in the international community. This was [why the demonstrators chose a] non-violent march and struggle.

Israel is constantly afraid of illegitimacy because their its is illegal. They carried out, with their own hands, ethnic cleansing in Palestine and the Golan during the wars of ’48 and ’67.

By their own hands, they changed the population of the place and they are putting settlers everywhere.

By their own hands, they are confiscating the lands and they are trying to dismiss the culture and presence in the place.

They use apartheid. They use ethnic cleansing. And they are using discrimination and inequality inside the state of Israel itself.

In Israel, there are 300,000 displaced Palestinians. They are Israeli [citizens]. They are carrying Israeli passports, but because they are Arabs, they were forcibly displaced from their own villages.

They are internal refugees and Israel doesn't recognise its responsibility for the refugees, or the ethnic cleansing and the apartheid functioning in Palestine.

We have enough bloodshed. On June 5, we paid a very high price in blood.

It’s a psychological disease of the Israelis: to fire at people [with] snipers, you see their face and you are trying to kill them because they are 100 metres from the fence.

And it is not their land. The Golan is Syrian territory.

I don’t just say that, international law says that the Golan is Syrian territory. The Israelis fired at people in Syrian territory and killed them.

How did residents in Majdal Shams feel when they saw the demonstration and the violence that ensued?

We had two buses on June 5. We had a field hospital to treat injured people in case there were any. At the end of the day, several injured people were treated by our crews.

It was sad to see others killed in front of us, while we could not give a hand to help, except provide political support. We felt very depressed. It’s very sad to see.

People here are Syrians and they want to be back in Syria. Or rather, they want Syria to be back in the Golan. It is Syrian territory. [It should be given back] in a peaceful way, not in war.

Can you talk about daily life in the Golan Heights and what challenges residents face there?

The Israelis occupied the Golan in 1967. They forced people to leave their homes. There are now 500,000 Syrian refugees from the Golan.

The Israelis [imposed] 18,000 settlers who monopolise the resources of the Golan — the minerals, landscape and atmosphere of the Golan — which is against international law.

The Israelis divided the resources and minerals of the place in a division of one to 10. I am an indigenous person of the Golan, I was born here and this is my land. Under this division, I share 10% of what we have in the Golan — if it’s water, if it’s land, if it’s landscape, if it’s health, if it’s education.

And 90% is given to the settlers in the Golan.

This is what I mean by apartheid and colonialism together. Colonialism, ethnic cleansing and apartheid in one place.

What impact do you think the demonstrations will have on the residents of the Golan and elsewhere who are fighting for their rights under Israeli occupation?

We have been trying for several years, with the ideas of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, to develop a culture of non-violence and to develop a popular struggle against Israeli colonialism.

This is the way to invite others to join, to demonstrate against the Israelis in their embassies, in their companies. In many cases, we can invite others to stop investing in Israel or to pull investments from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan.

This is the only way to gather an international struggle in peaceful ways. This is our duty as human beings and this is the duty of other free people in this world. To feel free, people have to help others to be free.

[Abridged from www.electronicintifada.net . Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at www.JKDamours.com .]

Comments

A perfect re-inactment from Adolf Hitler's cunning ability: "Tell a lie like it is the truth, and tell it often until people believe that the lie is actually the truth."
The art of deception. The Syria, Iran, Palestinians and the world if Islam are willing disciples of this creed and they are effective in convincing gullible, mindless puppets of their self inflicted "refugee antics". Cowards that thrive on hate and survive only on politically generated capital. They produce NOTHING from their own hands, except death, oppression and hatred. A pitiful lot indeed.
Jesus Christ still loves them, was crucified and shed His blood for them that they might be redeemed. He was also born an Israeli from the Tribe of Judah!

The cause of death in a Syrian minefield has yet to be investigated by impartial outsiders yet alone confirmed.

No independent observers have examined the 20 or so people who died in the Syrian minefield,while cutting through the fence.
The snipers shot at peoples legs,if they wanted a "blood sacrifice",they would have done what Assad did and is doing,tanks,mortars & machine guns.No hype from the selective humanitarians.
The author has sunk to the racist lows, that is stock in trade on Syrian and other Moslem world media.

You are stooping to new lows in your ongoing efforts to demonize Israel. Assad - a long term enemy of Israel - murders tens of thousands of his own citizens and you manage to find a way to blame that on the Jews. Your "blood harvest" headline is right up there with the old world myth that Jews drank the blood of Christian babies. That's exactly the sort of slander that led to the holocaust, but I'm guessing that's precisely your intention.

The Syrian Arab Republic, THE OPPRESSIVE ALAWITE SUPREMACISTS DISCRIMNATORY BUTCHERS, just like almost all Arab and Islamic nations, where all minorities are being discriminated against, practice a real apartheid system, not as in the 'apartheid slur' which was invented by Arab racism (in 1961, 6 years before the so-called "occupation" even came about, by Arab-Nazi A. Shukairy in his hate-speech at the UN, he was the Mufti’s henchmen and aided in exterminating Jews in WW2) against the non-Arab/non-Muslim democracy island in their midst and categorizing Israel's struggle against Arab-Islamic genocide - falsely as "apartheid." Then it picked up steam in the Arab League's anti-Israel camopaign i the UN in the 1970s, and the Arab lobby paid J. Carter for his hate book. The Pallywood propaganda even faked a document, a speech by an Arab propagandist and pinned it on N. Mandela, who never uttered any comparisons between the Arab-Israel conflict and S. Africa's apartheid.

In the several comments already posted zionists are going bananas to paint GLW as racist, anti-semitic, pro-assad, biased and/or dishonest.

But whats most interesting is that no-one has actually questioned the content of the article- that Israeli troops fired upon peaceful and unarmed civilian protesters in the illegally occupied Golan Heights.

I state again- and this is unchallenged. Israeli troops, as part of an illegal occupation shot and killed peaceful, unarmed and civilian demonstrators.

Shame on Israel and all that allow these crimes to continue.

iseral has commning geisead agenist palsteans pepole the lies zinoast youse by hiding behand holocueast the lies about ante semtsiom fact plsliean are semitesct pepole second lie yousing naziseiom decrbing the arbes Adiof Hittear spring Iseral founding by sanding jews to plastiean the Nazis founding zinoast milshear grops how repabeal al nukeabear wich saw 400000 paliseans evicead form homes at gunv pont lodead back trck seant to gazs west bank dumptd thear wean jewsish refugges re sltling tacking thear homes and land off tham pasteans fling to nabouring sryia and lebonon jordean as refugges knowing nevear retuean the isearls are not victoimas thay jest same as Nazises thay evean clobead with theam the arebs have evrey right to be thear is anscesueal land was fore ceantureys befouer the cloniast startad drwing bodears afear wold war one deviding the mideal east up betwan eupoians powears by sam bullock brisande

Isn't it a waste of everybody's time to print one psychotic rant after another from this clinically demented Zionazi? (if you'll pardon the tautology).

When did GLW defend Assad? I think this (marginally) fits into the common category of Israel apologists that seek to point the finger elsewhere to draw attention away from their own government's crimes. As well as gratuitous lies about GLW which is standard of course.

The Golan Heights were occupied after a war in which Syria (and other Arab countries) invaded Israel, entirely unprovoked. That was the "illegal" act, not the subsequent occupation. And how many of these "protestors" were actually genuine Golan refugees? I doubt that any of them were, there were very few to begin with, it has always been sparsely populated land. Far more likely these people are a bunch of Assad's goons stirring up trouble as a distraction from their own genocide. There are already huge numbers of murders, beatings, tortures, arbitrary arrests, and rapes, resulting from the violence taking place inside Syria. The crimes of that brutal regime have been entirely overlooked by GLW, due to your ongoing quest to blame "Zionists" (i.e. Jews) for all the world's problems. Instead you look for any issue, anywhere, you can manufacture an anti-Semitic angle and post it as front page news.

So shame on YOU, GLW. Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself whether your hatred of "Zionists" is distracting you from your self-proclaimed mission of :

"helping strengthen the anti-racist, feminist, student, trade union, environment, gay and lesbian, civil liberties and anti-imperialist movements".

I am appalled to see how ignorant and narrow-minded the readers of GLW can be. Being against the occupation of the Golan by Israel doesn't mean being pro Assad. Do you really think Israel's intentions are to free the Syrians from Assad? The Syrian people is the victim of both Assad's regime and Israel. They should fight for democracy and for their land.
A good movie on the subject of the occupation of the Golan Heights and how it affects its people: The Syrian Bride. And it's an Israeli-German-French movie... there's some hope!

Alright.

The article states "When people reached the ceasefire line, Israeli forces were waiting with snipers. They began firing live bullets and they killed and injured hundreds of people. Twenty-three people were killed"

Well, the "snipers" shot plenty of warning shots and not just started shooting "When people reached the ceasefire line" as the article infers.

Also, the article neglets to mention that the Israeli soilders started shooting at the so called "peaceful and unarmed civilian protesters" after they started to throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at the Israeli side of the border.

Also, the article neglets to mention that 10 of those killed there were killed by a Syrian land mine that was activated by a fire started by the protesters Molotov cocktails... important information, don't you think?

Relating to the incident which Israel secures it's own borders from people who try to breach it who belong to an enemy country as "It is a blood harvest of the Israeli army", while thousands are butchered relentlessly in neighbouring countries, is not just bigoted but also inflammatory.

The article states "It was a demonstration in memory of the war of ’67 ". well.. it's true, but I really don't understand why the writers neglected to mentions the self declared intentions of those who came to the Israeli Syrian border, which were to infiltrate Israel and come, not to the Golan Hights, not the west bank or Gaza, but to Yafo, or Haifa and etc, which are not "occupied" territory.

Should I go on?

If you want people to stop blaming GLW as racist, biased or dishonest maybe they should start writing factual reports, not just what fits their own agenda (which is making Israel look like a monster who likes to kill non jews)

if you don't want to be viewed as racist the Green left weekly should fight anti semitism rather than produce a rag that goobells would be proud of

You said: "The crimes of that brutal regime have been entirely overlooked by GLW, due to your ongoing quest to blame "Zionists" (i.e. Jews) for all the world's problems. Instead you look for any issue, anywhere, you can manufacture an anti-Semitic angle and post it as front page news."

If you, and all the other rabid defenders of Israel, bothered to look beyond the Israel-related articles on this site you'd find plenty of criticism of Syria and other repressive regimes in the Arab world. But i suppose that fact doesnt fit in with your victimhood complex.

Your claim that GLW "manufactures an anti-Semitic angles" is pretty hilarious, given that a) the Israeli government so regularly commits crimes that the need to "manufacture" anything is zero, and b) you will not find a single article in GLW's 20-year history that uses any kind of "anti-Semitic" or racist rhetoric.

Supporters of Israel have made an art form of cynically using all of Jewish culture and history to justify Israeli government actions. You do so in the quote above by equating Zionists with all Jews. To state the obvious, not all Jews and Zionists and not all supporters of zionism are Jewish. Ive met many people with Jewish backgrounds who view Zionism as a either a bad joke or a mortal insult to their heritage.

No distraction at all. Zionism is a model of what it appears the GLW fights against. Racism, oppression, slaughter of innocents, theft........