Israel’s borders breached in Nakba Day protests

Leila Miller, Acting Editor-in-Chief

By Leila Miller, Outside News Editor

Protestors crossed the borders from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank into Israel May 15, resulting in deadly clashes with Israeli soldiers. The protests were part of annual Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day demonstrations throughout the Arab World that mark the anniversary of Israel’s independence.

In the Golan Heights, around 150 Palestinian protestors from Syria crowded into Majdal Shams, the closest village to the Israeli-Syrian border. One Syrian was killed and 30 to 40 others injured by Israeli fire, according to the Jerusalem Post (http://tinyurl.com/BPJPost).

At the Lebanese border, the IDF maintained that the Lebanese Armed Forces were responsible for all or most of the three to five dead protestors at the Lebanese village of Maroun a-Ras, according to the Jerusalem Post (http://tinyurl.com/BPJPost).  But The New York Times, quoting Lebanese army spokesmen, stated that Israeli soldiers killed 10 and wounded more than 100 protestors trying to cross the border. (tinyurl.com/BPNYTimes).

At the Gaza border, IDF soldiers shot into a crowd of 1,000 protestors marching toward the border, and in the West Bank, tear gas and stun guns were used against protestors.

No Israelis were killed at the border clashes, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israeli commanders responded to the Nakba Day infiltrators appropriately, and that the soldiers needed to defend the country’s sovereignty.

“We used protest dispersal methods, but the number of people involved made this difficult,” Olmert said. “There comes a moment when there’s no choice but to fire at their legs and it is very good that forces acted with restraint and judgment and we did not have here a ruinous bloodbath” (http://tinyurl.com/BPOlmert)

The violence began when an Israeli Arab truck driver rammed into a bus in Tel Aviv, killing one man and injuring dozens of others in what has been identified as a terrorist attack.

In a televised address, President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said that the protests showed the resolve of the Palestinians is stronger than that of “their oppressors” (tinyurl.com/BPMahmoudAbbas).

“Their blood will not go to waste,” Abbas said in a televised address. “Their blood was spilled for the freedom of our Palestinian people and for its rights.”