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Palestinians mark uprooting; 5 reported killed
Published on 15 May. 2011 11:15 PM IST
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Israeli troops clashed with Arab protesters along two hostile borders on Sunday, leaving as many as five people dead and dozens wounded as the Palestinians commemorated their mass displacement during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment three generations ago.
Israel’s Channel 2 TV said four people were killed as they tried to burst through the Syrian border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in the most serious violence in the area in decades.
Palestinian medics also said one person was killed and 40 others were wounded in a demonstration in the Gaza Strip near the heavily fortified border with Israel. Demonstrations were also reported in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The unrest came as the Palestinians marked the “nakba,” or “catastrophe,” the term they use to describe the uprooting they suffered at the time of Israel’s founding on May 15, 1948.
In the fighting over Israel’s creation, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were uprooted, and the dispute over the fate of the refugees and their descendants, now numbering several million, remains a key issue in the Mideast conflict.
Israel TV channels broadcast scenes of what appeared to be thousands of people gathering along the Syrian border with the Golan, with large crowds of people throwing objects at the fence. Dozens of people could be seen cutting through the fence and storming across the Israeli side.
Israeli media said the protesters were believed to be Palestinians who live in refugee camps in Syria. Channel 2 interviewed one of those who crossed, who identified himself as a resident of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. “I am Palestinian from Nazareth,” the man, identifying himself as Sami, told the station.
The Israeli military said its soldiers fired warning shots to disperse the crowd, but Channel 2 said four people were killed. Israel’s national rescue service says 10 to 20 people were wounded and are being treated in Majdal Shams, an Arab Druse town in the Golan.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war, and Syria demands the area back as part of any peace deal. But despite the hostility between the two countries, the border has been quiet for decades.

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