DAMASCUS, Syria — A Syrian government newspaper said Tuesday there will be more marches of Syrians and Palestinians to the Israeli border, warning Israel the day will come when thousands return to their occupied villages.
The article was published two days after Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian and Syrian protesters, killing as many as 23 people who tried to cross into the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
The article in Tishreen referred to Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, as well as Syrians who fled the Golan Heights when Israel captured the plateau in the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel's military warned in a statement that breaching the frontier lines "is a violation of international agreements" and that the military will "operate as necessary to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States believes President Bashar Assad's government is supporting the Palestinian protests. "We don't have any hard evidence," Toner said. "But we've seen this kind of behavior before. And certainly it seems in keeping with the Syrian regime's actions that they would try to deflect or distract international attention from what's going on internally in Syria by encouraging these kind of protests."
About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of their homes in a two-year war that followed Israel's creation in 1948. Together with their descendants, they number several million today; about 450,000 of them are registered in Syria.
Roughly 100,000 Syrians fled the Golan Heights when Israel captured the territory in 1967.