Netanyahu: Israel Will Defend Its Sovereignty During Planned Border Protests

Prime Minister says Syria, Iran behind Nakba Day mass protests earlier this month, adding that the same elements were pushing for riots in rallies scheduled for Sunday.

Israel will be decisive in protecting its borders against infiltrating protesters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, warning Syria and Lebanon ahead of upcoming Naksa Day border protests.

"Like any country in the world, Israel has the right and duty to guard and defend its borders. Therefore my instructions are clear, to act with restraint, but with the necessary decisiveness to protect our borders, our communities and our citizens," Netanyahu said in a speech.

The prime minister added that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas were behind last month's deadly demonstrations, saying "in the next few days those groups will retry to challenge Israel's sovereignty."

The IDF has already accused Iran of orchestrating two waves of fighting along its northern borders, as Palestinian protesters tried to infiltrate from Syria and Lebanon during demonstrations to mark Nakba Day, which commemorates the "catastrophe" of the creation of the State of Israel.

Palestinians are planning to stage a similar protest on Sunday, which comes in response to another call on Facebook to cross Israel's borders on the 44th anniversary of the start of 1967 Middle East War in which Israel captured East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Golan Heights.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Olivier Fitoussi

Earlier Thursday, it was reported that the Lebanese Army declared the area around the country's border with Israel a closed military zone, a move aimed at preventing Palestinian protesters from demonstrating in the area this weekend, a Lebanese army source said.

"The Lebanese Army declared the area a closed military zone to stop any escalation at the Lebanese border with Israel that could take place on Naksa Day," a source said.