Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned Thursday that Israel will act firmly against attempts to cross into the country while the Palestinian mark the “Naksa” day this coming Sunday. The Nakba day marks the day Israel was established in historic Palestine (the 1948 territories), while the Naksa day marks Israel’s occupation of the rest of the occupied territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and other Arab areas).
During a speech at a High Tech Conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that he issued orders to the army and the security forces to “maintain self-restraint” while at the same time to act firmly “to protect the border and prevent any infiltration”.
His statements came as thousands of Palestinian refugees and supporters intend to hold protests in several Arab countries to mark the 44th anniversary of the Naksa similar to protests held during Nakba commemoration on May 15th when thousands of protesters and Palestinian refugees, marched along the Syrian border in an attempt to cross back into the country through the occupied Golan Heights.
Netanyahu claimed that Syria and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah Party were responsible for the attempts to cross into the country during the Nakba day, and that they were partners in what he called “the aggression”.
He added that Syria and Hezbollah “will try to challenge the Israeli sovereignty in the coming days”, and that “Israel will practice its right to protect its borders and security”.
Meanwhile, several Israeli military and security sources stated that the army is preparing for any possible clashes that could take place this Sunday, and that the Northern Command of the army intends to deploy thousands of soldiers along the borders with Lebanon and in the Golan Heights.
Also, Israel’s Military Intelligence services started monitoring chatter social websites such as Twitter and Facebook in order to obtain information about planned protests and marches, especially in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in addition to Palestine.
According to Israeli Ynet news, the Lebanese military is due to close off the border to Israel on Sunday to prevent a repeat of the clashes on Nakba Day of this year, according to Israeli Yet News
Lebanon has designated the border between Israeli and Lebanon a “closed military zone” in the run up to protests on June 5th as part of Naksa Day.
The army has made it clear that it will cooperate with UNIFIL forces on the ground to enforce the exclusion barrier.
During the May 15 Nakba protests, four people were killed on the Syria-Israel border, and five were killed on the Lebanon-Israel border, while 52 injured in Gaza, and at least 24 injured in the West Bank as Israeli forces attacked Palestinian refugees trying to re-enter their homeland. The day of protests was a commemoration of the ‘Nakba’ or ‘Catastrophe’, the day when Israel was created on Palestinian land 63 years ago.
The Israeli military confirmed firing at protesters on the Israel-Syrian border, as thousands of refugees tried to cross into the Golan Heights that is now a disputed territory claimed by both Israel and Syria. Many Arabs who lived in the area found their towns and families split in half by the border.
Thousands of Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon also tried to cross the border with Israel Sunday morning, and were met with gunfire from Israeli troops stationed at the border. At least five people were killed, and ten wounded by Israeli gunfire in the Maroun Al-Ras area in southern Lebanon.