Israeli defense forces fired on Palestinian protesters who tried to cross into Israel via the borders with Syria and Lebanon on Sunday. At least 14 people died. Similar protests took place in the West Bank and Gaza, and protesters also tried (unsuccessfully) to reach Israel's border in Jordan and Egypt. The Palestinians staged the coordinated marches to mark the anniversary of Israel's creation in 1948. Was this unprecedented protest inspired by the same thirst for change that has driven the Arab Spring? (Watch an ITN News report about the violence.)
This was merely "political theater": "No doubt the Syrian government is thrilled that the Israelis opened fire," says Michael J. Totten at Pajamas Media. The country's embattled leader, Bashar al-Assad, has kept a lid on border demonstrations for years. He's allowing them now because he desperately wants to get people mad at Israel so they'll forget about his deadly crackdown, which has killed nearly 1,000 anti-government protesters.
"Nakba Day's deadly political theater"
Palestinians will no longer tolerate Israeli domination: It looks like "the Arab awakening is rousing the Palestinians from a lengthy slumber," says the Beirut Daily Star in an editorial. For too long, the Palestinian cause has been hijacked by politicians elsewhere, who exploited it for their own ends. Now, "from Tunis to Cairo to Gaza," the cause of Palestinian statehood is finally getting the attention it deserves. "Maintaining this momentum and unity of purpose will ensure that those who lost their lives for the sake of Palestine will have not have died in vain."
Many Syrians were protesting Assad, not Israel: Some of the young people who crashed the border obviously dream of reclaiming land where their ancestors once lived, says Hagai Einav at Ynet News. But others just wanted to get out of Syria. They wanted to live in peace on the Israeli side of the border, because "the uprising against Syrian President Assad is proving more and more dangerous," and Palestinians there "now fear for their lives."
"Deadly clashes on Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon"