"Nabka Day" 2011 represents two major milestones: (1) the 63rd anniversary of the creation of the modern state of Israel by UN resolution, and (2) very close to the 63rd straight year of the UN doing everything it can to make up for its half-century-plus-old "mistake." Sunday May 15, 2011 also represents the first anniversary of Israel's establishment since the events of the "Arab Spring" began.
The results are not good. A possible terrorist attack was carried out in Tel Aviv, rioters massed in areas near Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and incursions against Israeli territory were made along three of those borders, including that with Syria - a border which could generally be considered Israel's most secure aside from the Mediterranean coast. According to reports, "thousands of protesters stormed the fence [between Syria and Israel] and hundreds burst through, pelting soldiers with stones, the military said. Soldiers guarding the border opened fire to stop them." The IDF says its "forces fired selectively towards rioters who were targeting security infrastructure" in the Israeli Arab village of Majdal Shams. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the IDF was ordered "to act with 'maximum restraint'." Four invaders were reported killed, while thirty were wounded. The latter were treated at a nearby medical center and have already been returned to Syria.
The fact that Syria's border with Israel is ordinarily so tightly controlled suggests that Damascus had a hand in at least allowing, if not promoting, today's cross-border incursion -- an act which makes perfect sense given the events of recent weeks within Syria. The regime of Assad the "reformer" has cracked down ever more viciously on protesters within his borders who wish to bring the "Arab Spring" to Syria, widening the chasm between the rulers and the people in that country and bringing significant negative attention upon the regime from outside its borders (though, naturally, no actual threats or carrying out of action, as the US and NATO have so disastrously attempted to do in America's current forgotten war against Qaddafi in Libya). Given the deteriorating situation within Syria, what better distraction from Assad's crackdown, and refocusing of domestic and international attention on a common external enemy, could there be than to take part in provoking Israeli action against Syrians?
The Israeli government is thinking along these lines, as well, holding "the governments of Syria and Lebanon...responsible for any violence or provocation towards Israel that emanates from their respective territories" and declaring that "the Syrian regime is intentionally attempting to divert international attention away from the brutal crackdown of their own citizens to incite against Israel."
To say today's events bode ill for the future of Israeli security and sovereignty, and for the direction of the greater Middle East, would be to understate and undervalue what happened over the course of the last few hours by several orders of magnitude. Reading the newspaper or press wires, of course, wouldn't give you the impression that anything happened but the standard old "Israel's military fired on somebody" trope again. " For example, the Associated Press headline about today's events says, "In Deadly Clashes, Israeli Troops Fire on Protesters." It's the same old same old as far as the media are concerned; just as the daily rocket attacks from Hamas-run Gaza into southern Israel (of which there have been more so far in 2011 than in all of 2010) are rarely if ever reported by western media but the Israeli military response is always covered both closely and critically, the events which brought on the Israeli response today have been downplayed, relegated to the bottom of the upside-down-pyramid "news" writing style employed by today's journalists, or outright ignored by most press outlets.
Until the planting of explosives along the border, the deliberate antagonizing and endangering of security forces through rock throwing, and the indiscriminate firing of unguided rockets across Israel's borders are reported and treated as the provocations against the people of, and attacks on a sovereign state, that they are, the narrative within the media will remain the same: big, bad (tiny) Israel keeps firing on, and invading, residents of neighboring territories for reasons which aren't quite clear, and which certainly have nothing to do with the right of a sovereign nation under increasing siege from all sides to defend itself.
Because, as the UN has reiterated since it made the fateful "mistake" of allowing Israel to be re-formed in 1948, that right to self-defense -- and the right to existence itself -- simply isn't something that Israel should be allowed to have.