MAJDAL SHAMS, GOLAN HEIGHTS:
Israeli troops shot Palestinian protesters who surged towards its frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, killing up to 13 people on the day Palestinians mourn the creation of the state of Israel.
Israeli forces opened fire in three separate border locations to prevent crowds of demonstrators from crossing Israeli frontier lines, in the deadliest such confrontation in years.
The Lebanese army on the Lebanese frontier said 10 Palestinians died when Israeli forces shot at rock-throwing protesters to prevent them from entering the Jewish state.
Lebanese security sources said more than 100 people had been wounded in the shooting incident.
Israel blamed a cynical provocation inspired by Iran, to exploit Palestinian nationalist feeling fuelled by the popular revolts of the “Arab Spring” across the Middle East, and to draw attention from major internal unrest inside Syria, its ally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped the confrontations would not escalate.
Syrian media reports said Israeli gunfire killed two people after dozens of Palestinian refugees infiltrated the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from Syria. The Syrian foreign ministry condemned what it called Israel’s “criminal activities”.
On Israel’s tense southern border with the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunfire wounded 82 demonstrators approaching the fence with the Hamas-run enclave, medical workers said.
A spokesman for the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, called Sunday “a turning point in the Israeli-Arab conflict” that proved the Palestinian people and Arabs were committed to ending Israeli occupation.
Hezbollah condemned the “Israeli aggression on unarmed civilians in Maroun al-Ras and in the Golan, which constitutes a dangerous violation of human rights,” said Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah.
“The resistance in Lebanon [Hezbollah] will continue to be an advocate for Palestinian national rights and calls on everyone to stand united.”
Israeli security forces had been on alert for violence on Sunday, the day Palestinians mourn the “Nakba”, or catastrophe, of Israel’s founding in a 1948 war, when hundreds of thousands of their brethren fled or were forced to leave their homes.
West Bank clashes
In the Israeli occupied West Bank, Palestinian youths and Israeli forces clashed for hours at the main checkpoint dividing Ramallah from Jerusalem.
Palestinians hurled rocks and set ablaze tyres and soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to drive them away from the Qalandia checkpoint.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2011.
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