JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least four Palestinians were killed and nine wounded after hundreds of protesters massed on Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights.
The violence came Sunday after hundreds of Palestinians from Syria gathered at the border to mark Naksa Day, or the Setback, marking the beginning 44 years ago of the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israeli soldiers and border control police used tear gas and fired their weapons in the air and then at protesters feet to break up the threatening crowds on the border.
Palestinian rioters also threw firebombs at Israeli troops in the Golan Heights at the Druze town of Majdal Shams and the Quneitra Crossing in the northern Golan, the IDF spokesman said in a Twitter message, adding that 1,000 additional rioters had reached Majdal Shams by mid-afternoon.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian protesters fought with Israeli troops near the Qalandiyah checkpoint, between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank. Soldiers fired tear gas and shot in the air to disperse the demonstrators.
Palestinians demonstrating on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem threw firebombs at the back of Hadassah Hospital, Ynet reported.
The Lebanese army on June 3 declared the area around its border with Israel a closed military zone in order to prevent Palestinian protesters from demonstrating there.
On May 15, Palestinian protesters commemorating Nakba Day — the "catastrophe" of Israel’s founding in 1948 — breached Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon, leading to the deaths of 11 demonstrators. Most reportedly were killed by Lebanese troops.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking June 3 at a conference in Jerusalem, said Syria and Iran and the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist groups were behind the planned mass protests.
"Like any country in the world, Israel has the right and duty to guard and defend its borders," he said. "Therefore my instructions are clear: to act with restraint, but with the necessary decisiveness to protect our borders, our communities and our citizens."