Palestinian 'nakba' protests turn deadly. Israel sees Iran's 'fingerprints.'
Eight people were reportedly killed in separate incidents along Israel's borders with both Syria and Lebanon – and dozens were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza – during the Palestinians' annual 'nakba' protest against Israel.
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In Gaza, 19 people were wounded near Erez, the main crossing into Israel. AFP reports that troops fired on protesters who were marching toward the border and throwing rocks at the security forces. The Haartez reports that Israeli forces fired two tank shells toward the demonstrators, and fired several rounds with machine guns. The tank shell landed in an empty field several hundred yards from the protesting youths.Skip to next paragraph
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Haaretz also reports that protesters clashed with police in East Jerusalem, near Isaweya. And the Jerusalem Post reports that an Israeli man was injured when protesters threw rocks into his car in A Tur, another East Jerusalem neighborhood. A Palestinian youth was killed in East Jerusalem over the weekend. According to his friends, he was shot from a Jewish settler building, reports Haaretz.
Israel had put extra troops and police on duty in the West Bank to prepare for Sunday’s demonstrations. The Jerusalem Post reports that as many as 10,000 border police officers had been placed in areas where conflict was expected, and that police were instructed to “to avoid using live fire as much as possible, and were provided with large quantities of "less lethal weapons and means for dispersing demonstrations,” according to Haaretz.
The Associated Press reports that Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza leader of Hamas, said in a dawn sermon that Palestinians mark the occasion “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine." Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the US and Israel, refuses to give up violence or recognize Israel’s right to exist, and calls in its charter for the destruction of Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in the West Bank, said Palestinians hope this will be the year "in which our people achieve freedom and independence,” reports the AP. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has said he will seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the fall.
“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighboring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet.