Bloodshed along Israel borders kills 12 on Nakba Day

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 15 May 2011 View Original

By Jack Guez

(AFP) – 18 hours ago MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights — Israeli gunfire killed 12 people and wounded hundreds Sunday as Palestinians marched on Israel's borders with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza in a mass show of mourning over the creation of the Jewish state.

Tensions along the Israeli-Syrian frontier spiralled as thousands of protesters from Syria tried to force their way onto the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, prompting the army to open fire in one of the worst incidents of violence there since a 1974 truce accord.

Syria lashed out at Israel for the bloodshed, warning it would bear full responsibility for its "criminal" actions, while Lebanon filed a complaint to the United Nations, urging it "to make the Jewish state halt its aggression and provocation," Lebanon's official NNA news agency reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would protect its borders faced with those who sought its destruction. "Their struggle is not over the 1967 borders, but it questions the very existence of Israel, which they describe as a catastrophe which must be resolved," he said in a televised address. "We are determined to defend our borders and our sovereignty."

A Druze doctor from Majdal Shams who rushed to the scene told AFP he saw at least two bodies, with local paramedics confirming the same toll, saying one had been shot in the head, and the second in the chest.

They also treated 20 people for light to moderate injuries.
Along the Lebanese border, Israeli gunfire killed 10 people and wounded 110 as thousands of mainly Palestinian refugees demonstrated along the tense frontier, medical sources said.

And along Gaza's northern border with Israel, 125 people were injured, five of them seriously, when troops opened fired as more than 1,000 Palestinians marched on the Erez crossing.

At least half of the wounded were minors, medics said.

The Israeli army issued a statement saying "hundreds of Syrian rioters" had crossed onto the Israeli side, and in response troops had "fired selectively" towards them, injuring an unspecified number.

Protesters in southern Lebanon had tried to cross the border into Israel, the statement added, saying troops had fired warning shots towards them.

Three army officers and 10 soldiers had been injured during the two incidents, it said, blaming Damascus and Beirut for the violence.

Elsewhere, at least 29 others were injured in clashes across annexed east Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Israeli troops also shot dead a Palestinian in an area east of Gaza City but medics said the incident was not related to the nakba protests.

In southern Gaza, more than 5,000 demonstrators also held a mass rally in the southern city of Rafah, which lies on the border with Egypt, an AFP correspondent said.

They waved Palestinian flags and held up huge replica wooden keys to homes they fled or were expelled from during the Arab-Israeli war which accompanied the creation of the Jewish state.

The unrest coincided with a visit to east Jerusalem and the West Bank by UN humanitarian agency chief Valerie Amos, who called for a halt to the violence.

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