Israel On Guard Amid Palestinian Protests

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Palestinian demonstrators marking Nakba day on Sunday kept the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Police and Border Police busy from the north to the south and several points in between.

Arabs in Israel and surrounding countries refer to the establishment of the modern State of Israel as the 'Nakba' -- catastrophe. 

Rioting in Arab villages in the Galilee and some east Jerusalem neighborhoods continued into the evening. As many as a dozen pro-Palestinian protesters were killed after attempting to breach Israel's borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Click play to watch the latest report, followed by comments from CBN News Senior Editor John Waage, who lived in Israel fo several years. 

Netanyahu Vows to Defend Borders

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to defend the borders from those opposing the "very existence" of the Jewish state.

"As the leaders of these violent protests say themselves, their struggle isn't over the 1967 lines, but against the very existence of the State of Israel, which they call a "catastrophe" that must be fixed," Netanyahu said. "It's important that we keep our eyes open to the reality and know who and what we're up against," he said.

Earlier, about 1,000 Syrian activists breached the northern border near the Israeli druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights.

One infiltrator was killed and 30 to 40 injured in ensuing clashes with the IDF. By 5 p.m., the IDF reported that all infiltrators had returned to Syria.

"In an attempt to turn the rioters back to Syria, forces fired selectively toward rioters who were targeting security infrastructure and some were injured as a result," the IDS Spokesperson's Office reported.

The IDF also reported that Syrian troops in the vicinity made no attempt to intervene.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai called the infiltration attempts an "Iranian provocation." 

"The radical axis of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas is very clear," Mordechai told Israel's Channel 10 news. "We have one incident in Maroun al-Ras area on the Lebanese border and a second one at Majdal Shams, where we see fingerprints of Iranian provocation aimed at creating friction," he said.

Central Israel and Southern Border

In central Israel, about 600 Palestinians rioted in Kalandiya, south of Ramallah. IDF forces responded with riot gear to contain the violence, the IDF Spokesperson's Office reported.

On the southern border, thousands of Gazans stormed the Erez border crossing, hurling rocks at IDF forces. Soldiers responded with controlled fire, aiming at the legs of leading rioters. Numbers were injured as a result, the Spokesperson's Office reported.

IDF troops also opened fire on a suspect planting a bomb near the security fence, identifying a hit.

Earlier on Sunday, an Arab truck driver went on a rampage in Tel Aviv, killing one man and injuring 17. One eyewitness told Israel Radio he heard the driver shouting "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is greater) and "death to the Jews."

Meanwhile, in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, Nakba demonstrators threw rocks and fire bombs at policemen. Several were injured.

On Friday, tensions escalated when a 17-year-old Arab teen from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan died from a bullet wound to the stomach. The boy's parents turned down an autopsy request by the Israel Police to determine who fired the shot.

Demonstrations in Jaffa

This year for the first time, about 1,000 Arab residents of Jaffa demonstrated on Saturday.

Jaffa resident Abed Abu-Shehada, told The Jerusalem Post, "We are here to say Jaffa is still Arab and is still part of Palestine and we are still Palestinians." 

Abu-Shehada said the uprisings in the Middle East, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, inspired them. 

"From the youth movement point of view we're very inspired by what is happening in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Bahrain because it's the youth," he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said "the blood of the Nakba fatalities was not spilled in vain. They died for the Palestinian people's rights and freedom."

At Gaza City's al-Omari Mosque at dawn on Sunday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh urged worshippers to pray for an end to Israel. Haniyeh praised the P.A.'s new unity coalition with Fatah, saying it would "achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land." Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas would never recognize Israel's right to exist.

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CBN News
Tzippe Barrow and Julie Stahl

Tzippe Barrow and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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