Four people were reportedly shot dead by Israel Defense Forces troops Sunday as they opened fire on large numbers of infiltrators trying to breach Syria's southern border with Israel. Another four people were said to have been killed on the Lebanese side of its shared frontier with Israel, as Palestinian protests for the annual Nakba Day, which mourns the creation of the State of Israel, took hold across the region.
In Majdal Shams, which runs along the Israel-Syria border, scores of Palestinian refugees from Syria spilled into the town. The Magen David Adom rescue service said about a dozen others had been wounded. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed opening fire on infiltrators.
About 70 people, most of them Palestinian refugees, managed to cross the border, according to local residents. Initial reports had put the number of infiltrators into the hundreds.
"The way it was reported to me, they broke through the fence," Dolan Abu Salah, the mayor of Majdal Shams, told Army Radio.
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Thousands of people gathered in the Lebanese town of Maroun a-Ras, where Palestinian protesters tried to push their way across the border, local media reports said, citing eyewitnesses. Four protesters were killed and 11 wounded in a shooting incident at the border where Palestinians were demonstrating, Lebanese security sources said.
Carrying Palestinian flags and chanting "we want our land back," thousands of Palestinians tried to approach the electric fence that separates Lebanon from Israel, but Lebanese army troops fired in the air and ordered the crowd to return to where the rally was held.
The demonstrators pelted the Lebanese troops with stones as they struggled to hold them back from the fence.
But around 50 protesters managed to reach the fence and started throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the fence, prompting the IDF troops to fire bullets and tear gas at the protesters.
Palestinians protest on Nakba Day
Speakers representing the various Palestinian factions called through loudspeakers on the Palestinian youths to stop throwing stones at the Israeli troops, but their calls were ignored.
IDF Spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said troops opened fire at a large crowd of Lebanese protesters who approached the border with Israel.
He said soldiers fired at the crowd when the demonstrators reached the border and began vandalizing the fence, and that the army was aware of casualties on the other side.
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