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Five reported dead after Israeli troops clash with Arab protesters

Dozens more were wounded as Palestinians commemorated their mass displacement during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment three generations ago.

Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.
Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday.
Image: Majdi Mohammed/AP/Press Association Images

AS MANY AS five people are dead after Israeli troops clashed with Arab protesters along two hostile borders on Sunday.

Dozens more were 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.

Medics told the Ma’an news agency that at least 45 demonstrators were injured by artillery shells and gunfire as they approached the Erez crossing 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 Middle East conflict.

Israel was said to be assigning 10,000 solders across Jerusalem and its surrounding villages to counter any rallies or demonstrations according to the WAFA Palestine news agency.

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.

The Israeli Defence Force has told The Jerusalem Post that the Syrian government is responsible for the violence.

Israeli 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.

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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