Israel-Palestinian violence erupts on three borders

Israeli forces opened fire in three separate locations to prevent crowds of demonstrators from crossing 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 in the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras.

The Israel army said the Lebanese army had also used live ammunition in an attempt to hold back the crowds rushing the border fence.

Israel blamed the incidents on provocation inspired by Iran, intended to exploit Palestinian nationalist feeling fuelled by the popular revolts of the "Arab Spring", and to draw attention from major internal unrest in Syria, Iran's ally.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped the confrontations would not escalate.

"We hope the calm and quiet will quickly return. But let nobody be misled: we are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty," Netanyahu said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised address to mark the anniversary that those killed were martyrs to the Palestinian cause.

"Their precious blood will not be wasted. It was spilt for the sake of our nation's freedom," Abbas said.

Syrian media reports said Israeli gunfire killed two people after dozens of Palestinian refugees infiltrated the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from Syria, along a front line that has been largely tranquil for decades.

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 Islamist-run enclave, medical workers said. In a separate incident, Israeli forces said they shot a man who was trying to plant a bomb near the border. A body was later found.

In Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial hub, a truck driven by an Arab Israeli slammed into vehicles and pedestrians, killing one man and injuring 17 people.

Police were trying to determine whether the incident was an accident or an attack. Witnesses said the driver, who was arrested, deliberately ran amok with his truck in traffic.

Jordanian police fired teargas on Sunday to disperse hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists who gathered at a village on the border with Israel.

"The police pushed us out of the protest area and after using teargas started to chase us with batons," one said from Karama village.

ALERT

A spokesman for the Islamist 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 at a pro-Palestinian protest in Maroun al-Ras.

"The resistance movement in Lebanon (Hezbollah) will continue to be an advocate of Palestinian national rights and calls on everyone to stand united in confronting Israeli occupation.

"What happened today in Maroun al-Ras and in the Golan is an embodiment of the will of the Palestinian people, who are committed to the right of return."

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.

A call had gone out on Facebook urging Palestinians to demonstrate on Israel's borders.

To the south, Egyptian forces arrested six protesters and blocked hundreds of others from marching to its border with Israel, but no security forces appeared to be on hand in Syria.

"This appears to be a cynical and transparent act by the Syrian leadership to deliberately create a crisis on the border so as to distract attention from the very real problems that regime is facing at home," said a senior Israeli government official, who declined to be named.

"Syria is a police state. People don't randomly approach the border without the approval of the regime."

The border zones are protected by the 1949 Armistice Agreement signed by Israel and its Arab neighbours. A spokesman for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, set up on the Israeli-Syrian border after the 1967 Middle East war, said he had "no immediate information" about the incident.

In the Druze village of Majdal Shams, on the Golan Heights captured by Israel from Syria in 1967, Mayor Dolan Abu Salah said between 40 and 50 Nakba demonstrators from Syria tore through the flimsy frontier fence.

Hundreds of protesters flooded the lush green valley that marks the border area, waving Palestinian flags. Israeli troops attempted to mend the breached fence, firing at what the army described as infiltrators.

"We are seeing here an Iranian provocation, on both the Syrian and the Lebanese frontiers, to try to exploit the Nakba day commemorations," said the army's chief spokesman, Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai.

Syria is home to 470,000 Palestinian refugees and its leadership, now facing fierce internal unrest, had in previous years prevented protesters from reaching the frontier area.

WEST BANK CLASHES

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian youths and Israeli forces clashed for hours at the main checkpoint dividing the Palestinian administrative capital of Ramallah from Jerusalem, a constant flashpoint.

Palestinians hurled rocks and set ablaze tyres and soldiers fired rubber bullets and teargas to drive them away from the Qalandia checkpoint.

Hamas spokesman Taher Al-Nono praised the "crowds we have seen in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon" as evidence of "the imminent victory and return to the original homes as promised by God".

U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel broke down last year and no new negotiations are in the offing, with the U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell announcing his resignation on Friday.

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