About 18 were killed when Israeli troops fired at Palestinian demonstrators in Syria on Sunday, a Syrian state-run media reported.

Anyone who tries to cross the border will be killed, Israeli soldiers through loudspeakers shouted at the crowd on the Golan Heights, which was occupied by Israel. The demonstrator rallied to a Facebook call to march to the border on the 44th anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Middle East war, Syrian state-run media reported.

Some protestors lit bonfires near the fence as darkness fell and heavy fog moved on the high plateau and said they would not leave the border area, Syrian television reported. Most of the protesters had dispersed as the heavy mist descended in the area, Israel's Channel 1 in Majdal Shams, reported.

Israel captured Syria's Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the Middle East war where Palestinians want to establish a state.

The Syrian leadership is encouraging events on the Golan Heights and trying to divert the world's attention away from the bloodbath they have inflict on their own people, Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, told Reuters.

“At least 18 protestors were killed and 277 wounded by Israeli gunfire on Sunday,” Syria's state news agency quoted the director of a Syrian hospital.

Israel Radio said a large number of people were hurt when an anti-tank mine was detonated by a brush fire at Quneitra, another protest venue near the border.

“Troops had opened fire but could not confirm any casualties,” Israel's chief military spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai said.

It's a message to anyone who tries to violate Israel's sovereign borders, he said, describing the army's actions as a measured, focused and proper response.


A Reuters' correspondent on Sunday saw at least 11 demonstrators carried away on stretchers by the crowd but no sign of any holes in the main border barrier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hours before the violence erupted, said he had ordered Israeli forces to act in limit, but with strong control to prevent any violation at border.

To my regret, there are extremists around us trying to violate our borders, and threaten our towns and citizens. We will not allow this, Netanyahu told his cabinet.

The event was broadcast live on Israeli television with running commentary from reporters on the ground.

A Palestinian youth just bolted from a trench. An Israeli sniper fired at him three times, but it looks like he missed, a correspondent for Israel's Channel 10 television said.

About 100 Palestinian protesters in the West Bank marched to an Israeli military checkpoint, where soldiers fired teargas and the crowd fled.

A Palestinian medic said 14 Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets in ensuing clashes between stone-throwing youths and Israeli forces.