Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border Thousands of Palestinians and their supporters demonstrated Sunday at Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon, and in the West Bank and Gaza, in commemoration of what has been dubbed the "nakba," or catastrophe. The day recalls Israel's creation in 1948 and the subsequent displacement of Palestinians. The annual protest turned violent this year, with at least 16 people killed in clashes with Israeli forces.
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Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border

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Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border

Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border

Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border

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  • Transcript

Thousands of Palestinians and their supporters demonstrated Sunday at Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon, and in the West Bank and Gaza, in commemoration of what has been dubbed the "nakba," or catastrophe. The day recalls Israel's creation in 1948 and the subsequent displacement of Palestinians. The annual protest turned violent this year, with at least 16 people killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

GUY RAZ, Host:

Phil, first of all, what happened?

PHILIP REEVES: Another crowd gathered not far away from there, a little to the east, in a border town in Syria that abuts the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Reports say that that crowd comprised Palestinian refugees. And the Israeli military says that the crowd were trying to infiltrate Israeli-controlled territory. Israeli forces opened fire there too. And again, there were several more fatalities.

RAZ: These demonstrations, Phil, are held annually. What explains the level of violence this year?

REEVES: However, it is true that the Palestinians are in a buoyant mood right now. They feel that their cause has gained new traction because of the reconciliation after a long and messy feud between their two main factions, Hamas and Fatah.

RAZ: Now, Israel is accusing both Syria and Iran of organizing these demonstrations; the Israelis say to divert attention away from recent protests in Syria. Is there any evidence of that?

REEVES: Plus, remember, that President Obama is about to make a big speech on the Middle East. So there is a lot at stake right now.

RAZ: That's NPR's Philip Reeves in Jerusalem.

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