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Friday, June 10, 2011

HuffPo says violent Syrian protesters just wanted a cup of coffee with friends

The Huffington Post posts some incredible drivel by Sharmine Narwani:

On Sunday, around 1,000 unarmed civilians marched to the ceasefire line between Syria and the Golan Heights to protest Israel's occupation of Arab lands following the 1967 war. Hours later, in the worst bloodshed since the 1973 war between Israel and Syria, up to 23 civilians were dead and hundreds wounded after Israeli troops opened live fire on the protesters.

In the West Bank, fellow protesters were only injured, as Israeli troops used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds that were only a few feet away from them.

In Majd al Shams on the occupied Golan Heights, however, the Palestinian and Syrian demonstrators were many yards away -- behind barbed wire fences -- never having crossed any ceasefire line.

As was the case with the 11 unarmed protesters in Lebanon killed by Israeli forces on May 15 in Maroun al Ras. Those civilians had not crossed any border either.

That makes Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu no different than Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Syria's Bashar al Assad, Bahrain's Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh -- and other autocrats still waiting their turn.

All fired live rounds at unarmed civilian populations voicing their grievances and exercising their right to congregate in public.

On Sunday, even the US Department of State jumped on this bandwagon: "Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself."

Defend itself against what exactly? Unarmed civilians who walk over a long-peaceful armistice line into territory that is legally viewed as Syrian to enjoy a cup of coffee with old friends?
Besides Narwani's complete belief in Syrian propaganda about how many protesters were killed and how they died - a belief that has no factual basis whatsoever - Narwani plays some slippery rhetorical games, taking advantage of the readers' ignorance of basic facts, to imply that the Syrian protesters were not violating any borders or cease fire lines.

In fact, even if you regard the Golan as Syrian territory, Israel has the right - and obligation - to guard the 1974 cease fire lines, as well as the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon which is by all definitions an international border.

But in fact the Syria protesters were violating the cease fire lines even on their side of the fence!

That's right - Israel erected two fences several hundred yards or so to the west of the actual cease fire lines, presumably in order to ensure that no one accuses Israel of a "land grab."

As former UNDOF member Tom Lehner writes:

This is a tricky field. We are talking about a simple worthless grass field that is about2 miles long and500 yards wide. Officially it belongs to Israel but for some reason, only known to God almighty, IDF did not put their fence on the east side where it belongs, but on the west side.

Now the UN Forces are supposed to hinder Syrian sheep farmers to enter that field. Ausbatt does this by going on patrol in that field and chasing all the sheep farmers away. They know they are not supposed to enter that field but do it anyway, knowing that once a month an IDF soldier shoots across the fence (he is allowed to since the field belongs to Israel) and kills a few sheep.

Now you might ask what the purpose is. The answer is simple, sheep farmers claim they did not know they were entering Israeli territory and then they complain about the sheep being killed and loss of income, blaming the UN for not watching, and demand restitution from the UN.
This is why Israel can go to the "outer fence" and repair it unimpeded by Syrian or UN forces - that fence is well within the Israeli side of the line.

And so were the  (Syrian-paid and controlled) protesters who peacefully threw rocks and pledged to die as martyrs! Even the ones who did not breach the fence were on the Israeli side of the line, and Israel was allowed to shoot at them to deter them from coming further into Israeli-annexed territory.

See also this set of rules for reporting from the Middle East which Narwani adheres to perfectly.

(h/t O, Edgar)