Sunday, 15 May 2011

Israel Matzav: Briefing on Sunday's event with IDF Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch

Briefing on Sunday's event with IDF Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch

I participated in a bloggers' briefing with IDF Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch. The briefing took place at approximately 5:30 this evening. A summary is below.

At the Syrian border, the IDF noticed a few thousand Syrians gathered in the area of the Syrian side of Majdal Shams. Because there is a protest there every year on 'Naqba Day,' they didn't consider it unusual, but suddenly approximately 1000 people ran for the border fence, including women, children and youth. A few dozen Syrians managed to cross the fence to the Israeli side.

The IDF commander in the area decided only to open fire at those people who started to destroy structures in the area. Some of the civilians in Majdal Shams helped Syrians to cross the border.

Half an hour ago a group went back to Syria and a few hours ago another group left. There may still be (!) a few left.

In Majdal Shams, 30 Syrians were lightly wounded (estimate) and the IDF gave them medical attention. Lt. Col. Leibovitch could not confirm the number of Syrians killed that was reported in the media today.

Syrian troops did not intervene - they sat and watched. The IDF thinks it's a distraction from Assad's problems and that the Syrian army intentionally let it happen.

They believe they have intelligence to know if anyone from Syria stays in Majdal Shams or tries to enter Israel. She did not get into specifics.

There was also a demonstration in Quneitra but that was quiet.

On the Lebanese border, there were demonstrations (she called all the demonstrations riots) near the Good Fence in the Metualla area, but the Lebanese Armed Forces used weapons to control the crowds.

At Maroun Aras (also called Ras Amoun elsewhere in this blog), rioters tried to break the border fence, IDF opened fire selectively at those who tried to approach the fence. The Syrian and Lebanese borders are 120km long so today's events were a huge test. The IDF has ten wounded soldiers and three officers - all lightly wounded from rocks.

600 people protested at Qalandia on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and teargas was used against them. Footage is being put up showing the 'Palestinian' rioters hiding behind ambulances. It took a few hours and was contained.

At the southern border, the IDF identified a large number of Gazans moving toward Erez late this morning. This did not succeed. The IDF opened fire with warning shots in order to keep the 'Palestinians' on the Gaza side. Hopefully tomorrow will be quiet. The IDF is controlling all areas.

The IDF believes that the situation is under control. They believe Hezbullah, Hamas and Iran were behind this, and that they coordinated today's attacks.


From here on is NOT from Lt. Col. Leibovitch.

Israel Radio adds that the big fear is that this will happen again in September. It is difficult for the IDF to deal with 'unarmed' protesters approaching the border area (it's not clear to me why - it's an act of war for a hostile company to send its citizens charging at another country's border whether they are armed or not). The Israel Radio analyst suggested mining the entire northern border area.

More to follow....

Israel Matzav: Briefing on Sunday's event with IDF Lt. Col. Avital Leibovitch

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