Clashes broke out on Israel's borders Sunday, as thousands of protesters — Palestinians and pro-Palestinian protesters from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank — tried to breach Israel’s military borders from all sides, on the anniversary of Israel’s creation. More than a dozen people were reported killed and scores injured, after Israeli troops fired on protesters who illegally crossed borders from Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza. Via the New York Times:
Every year in mid-May, many Palestinians mark what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, the anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and the war in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians lost their homes through expulsion and flight. But this was the first year that Palestinian refugees and their supporters in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, inspired by the recent protests around the Arab world, tried to breach Israel’s military border from all sides ... Like those other protests, plans for this one spread over social media, including Facebook, but there were also signs of official support in Lebanon and Syria, where analysts said leaders were using the Palestinian cause to deflect attention from internal problems.
At the Lebanese border, Israeli troops shot at Palestinians and pro-Palestinian protesters trying to force their way across, killing ten protesters. In the Golan Heights, about 100 Palestinians living in Syria reportedly breached a border fence, waving Palestinian flags, before Israeli troops fired on the crowd, killing four of them. In the West Bank, approximately 1,000 protesters carrying Palestinian flags and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails clashed with Israeli riot troops near a military checkpoint, and many were injured. In Gaza, marchers crossed a security zone near the border before Israeli troops fired into the crowd, wounding dozens. In Jordan and Egypt, protesters attempted to cross the border but were stopped by Jordanian and Egyptian security forces. (Pictured.) A "tense calm" returned to the region at the end of the day, according to the Times.
In a televised statement, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the protests: “The leaders of these violent demonstrations, their struggle is not over the 1967 borders but over the very existence of Israel," he said. “We hope the calm and quiet will quickly return. But let nobody be misled: We are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty." Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, saluted the protests, in his televised speech: “The blood of the Nakba fatalities was not spilled in vain,” he said. “They died for the Palestinian people’s rights and freedom.”