Last Infiltrators Return to Syria After Day of Bloody Clashes on Northern Borders

IDF sources say Lebanese demonstrators were killed by gunfire from the Lebanese army during Nakba Day protests on the border; Syria foreign ministry condemns Israel.

The last of the protesters who infiltrated across the border into Israel from Syria on Sunday have been returned to Syria by Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israel police.

Two demonstrators were killed in the incident near Majdal Shams on the Syrian border and between three and 10 people were killed in Maroun a-Ras on the Lebanese border.

Syria border protest May 15, 2011 (Yaron Kaminsky)
Yaron Kaminsky

The IDF said that the incidents clearly bore Iran's fingerprints.

The Lebanese army said that 10 people were killed and 112 were wounded in Maroun a-Ras when IDF troops opened fire on demonstrators trying to cross the border.

The Lebanese army said it was in a state of maximum alert and had coordinated with UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon "to prevent the enemy from continuing its targeting of the masses and its violation of Lebanese sovereignty".

IDF sources said, however, that both IDF and Lebanese forces opened fire to prevent to prevent demonstrators from crossing the border.

Syria border demonstration May 15, 2011 (Yaron Kaminsky)
Yaron Kaminsky

According to the IDF sources, IDF soldiers fired shots in the air and at the legs of protesters while Lebanese forces opened fire indiscriminately.

The IDF sources said that three to five demonstrators were killed by Lebanese gunfire.

The protests were held to mark Nakba Day, which mourns the creation of the State of Israel.

Syria condemned Israel's "criminal activities" on Sunday.

State news agency SANA quoted the Syrian foreign ministry as saying it called on the international community to hold Israel responsible for the incidents, the deadliest such confrontation along the borders in years.

The IDF had no prior information of the intention of demonstrators to break through the border fence. IDF forces had been deployed at several points along the Syrian and Lebanese borders but there was no expectation that violence would break out in the Majdal Shams area, where numerous demonstrations have occurred in the past that all ended without violence.

The IDF said that Syrian soldiers in the area did not get involved in the incident.

10 IDF soldiers and three IDF officers were injured in the incidents on the Syrian and Lebanese borders.

Following Sunday's incidents, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was determined to defend itself and its sovereignty.