Bloody protests on Syria-Israel border

By Jennifer Lipman, May 15, 2011

Binyamin Netanyahu has pledged that Israel will remain determined to defend its borders and sovereignty after clashes on its northern borders left several Arab protesters dead.

At least two Syrians were believed to have been killed and many more soldiers and protesters left injured on the Syrian border after thousands of demonstrators attempted to push across into Israel's Golan Heights.

Officials said hundreds of protesters were successful in breaching the border.

There were also deadly clashes on the borders with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, while Palestinian protesters threw rocks at police officials in Jerusalem.

The protests were timed to mark Nakba Day, the date Palestinians mourn the establishment of Israel.

The Israeli Prime Minister said he had ordered the military to act with maximum restraint in its reaction to the violent Nakba Day protests.

In Egypt, additional checkpoints with armed guards were set up near the Gaza border in anticipation of incidents.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned Israel's actions. Israeli military spokesman Avital Leibovich said: "The Syrian regime is intentionally attempting to divert international attention away from the brutal crackdown of their own citizens to incite against Israel."

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was concerned by the violence on Israel’s borders and saddened by the loss of life.

He said: "I call on all parties to exercise restraint and ensure that civilian life is protected.

"These developments make clearer than ever that a lasting and comprehensive resolution to the conflicts in the region is urgently needed and will only be achieved through negotiation."

Earlier today one person was killed and 16 others injured after an Arab driver hurtled his truck into cars and pedestrians on a busy Tel Aviv road.

Last updated: 9:17pm, May 15 2011