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Naqba Day 2011

Today was the Day of the Naqba, or Day of the Catastrophe, as the Arab world refers to the creation of the state of Israel. Anti-Israel demonstrations took place in Israel’s neighboring countries, and violence erupted inside the country as well.

In a particularly aggressive move, hundreds of pro-Palestinian Syrians broke through the fence separating Syria from the Israeli Druse village of Majd-al-Shams in the Golan Heights in an attempt to infiltrate Israel en masse. The IDF opened fire, reportedly killing eight and wounding several dozen more.

Thousands also gathered at Maroun a-Ras in Lebanon for Naqba Day. Waving Palestinian flags and shouting “We want our land back,” they attempted to surge forward toward the border fence with Israel. Most were stopped by the Lebanese army, but about fifty got through, where they threw rocks at the Israeli soldiers on the other side. The Israelis shot tear gas at them and eventually opened fire. Four are reported dead in that incident.

The IDF is referring to these events jointly as an Iranian maneuver.  “The radical axis of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas is very clear,” Brig.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai told Channel 10 News. “We have one incident in Maroun a-Ras area on the Lebanese border and a second one at Majd-al-Shams, where we see fingerprints of Iranian provocation aimed at creating friction.” (Whether or not these events were orchestrated from Teheran, they serve the interests of Bashar al-Assad, who would like nothing better than for the world’s already waning attention to be diverted from Daraa and Homs to images of Israeli soldiers and bleeding Arab protesters.)

Inside Israel, in what appears to have been a one-man protest, a 22-year-old resident of the Arab village of Kafr Kassem plowed a truck in a zigzag down a crowded street in the Hatikva neighborhood of south Tel Aviv this morning, killing a 29-year-old man and wounding seventeen. He was shouting  “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to the Jews” while deliberately striking cars, a bus, mopeds, a motorcycle, and pedestrians. He is under arrest and denies attempting to cause an accident.

There have been clashes elsewhere in Israel throughout the day, including a riot of about 100 Palestinians in Qalandiya and Molotov cocktails thrown at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.  Updates to come.