Meanwhile many residents of the Druze village said they were pleasantly surprised by the IDF's ability to maintain restraint in the face of violence directed against soldiers Sunday.It is an amazing demonstration of restraint if the soldiers were that outnumbered - but the question is, why were so few there to begin with? At the IDF briefing yesterday they said that there were demonstrations every year at the border, but they never tried to break down the fence - yet on a year where there were thousands of Arabs online swearing to march into Israel, shouldn't that have been considered?
"Though the soldiers were pelted by stones from both sides at once, and despite there being a number of injuries among them, I heard a commander ordering them to refrain from firing at protesters at all costs," Ali, a Majdal Shams resident, told Ynet after witnessing the events.
He added that the soldiers fired into the air at first and then, only when the rioters began closing in on all sides, did they begin to fire at their feet. "The restraint shown by the IDF today brought peace this evening. It could have ended very differently," he said.
Suleiman, who owns a candy store in the village, also claimed the army behaved wisely. "The IDF was very smart in not making things worse and being tolerant," he said. Suleiman says he closed up shop to witness the events on the border live. "I saw just ten soldiers and thousands of protesters," he recalled.
There is also some indirect evidence that the entire episode was arranged by Assad himself. As Jeffrey Goldberg writes,
Syria is one of the least-free nations on the planet. Demonstrations are not allowed to take place unless the government orders them to take place. Such is the situation on the Golan Heights today.
A Facebook page notes an Arabic talkback (not sure from where) that says that the people were bussed into the area by Syrian security forces who organized Syrian security forces arranged all the transportation and even recruited unemployed men and ex-cons to come to the border.
(h/t Marianne, Joel, David G)