The Israeli Defence Force has been shooting at the legs of protesters on Sunday 15th May 2011 in order to disperse rioters throwing rocks close to the Erez Crossing in Gaza. Protests have erupted throughout the region on what is known as “Nabka Day” – the anniversary of the 1948 war in which the state of Israel was proclaimed and 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes.
Palestinians from Syria and Lebanon crossed the border into Israel in protest at the occupied territories to which they wish to return. The IDF said in a statement:
“…hundreds of Syrian rioters infiltrated the Israeli-Syrian border into the village Majdal Shams, and in the center of the village violently rioted against IDF forces. In attempt to turn the rioters back to Syria, forces fired selectively towards rioters who were targeting security infrastructure and some were injured as a result.
“Additionally, along the Lebanese border, several rioters attempted to breach the border fence and to infiltrate into Israeli territory. IDF forces responded by firing warning shots…
“…Multiple violent riots broke out in several locations throughout Judea and Samaria. These riots included rock hurling, the throwing of fire bombs and the burning of tires.
“South of Ramallah, in Qalandiya, approximately 600 Palestinians are violently rioting…”
The IDF spokeperson blamed Iranian provocation for the protests and promised to hold the Syrian and Lebanese government responsible for violence emanating from their territories.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army reported ten deaths resulting from IDF arms fire and one hundred and twelve others wounded, some of them critically. The injured have been taken to nearby hospitals.