Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

By Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:56pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States reversed policy on Wednesday and said it would back launching talks on a treaty to regulate arms sales as long as the talks operated by consensus, a stance critics said gave every nation a veto.

The decision, announced in a statement released by the U.S. State Department, overturns the position of former President George W. Bush’s administration, which had opposed such a treaty on the grounds that national controls were better.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would support the talks as long as the negotiating forum, the so-called Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, “operates under the rules of consensus decision-making.”

“Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly,” Clinton said in a written statement.

While praising the Obama administration’s decision to overturn the Bush-era policy and to proceed with negotiations to regulate conventional arms sales, some groups criticized the U.S. insistence that decisions on the treaty be unanimous.

“The shift in position by the world’s biggest arms exporter is a major breakthrough in launching formal negotiations at the United Nations in order to prevent irresponsible arms transfers,” Amnesty International and Oxfam International said in a joint statement.

However, they said insisting that decisions on the treaty be made by consensus “could fatally weaken a final deal.”

“Governments must resist US demands to give any single state the power to veto the treaty as this could hold the process hostage during the course of negotiations. We call on all governments to reject such a veto clause,” said Oxfam International’s policy adviser Debbie Hillier.

The proposed legally binding treaty would tighten regulation of, and set international standards for, the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.

Supporters say it would give worldwide coverage to close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market.

Nations would remain in charge of their arms export control arrangements but would be legally obliged to assess each export against criteria agreed under the treaty. Governments would have to authorize transfers in writing and in advance.

The main opponent of the treaty in the past was the U.S. Bush administration, which said national controls were better. Last year, the United States accounted for more than two-thirds of some $55.2 billion in global arms transfer deals.

Arms exporters China, Russia and Israel abstained last year in a U.N. vote on the issue.

The proposed treaty is opposed by conservative U.S. think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, which said last month that it would not restrict the access of “dictators and terrorists” to arms but would be used to reduce the ability of democracies such as Israel to defend their people.

The U.S. lobbying group the National Rifle Association has also opposed the treaty.

A resolution before the U.N. General Assembly is sponsored by seven nations including major arms exporter Britain. It calls for preparatory meetings in 2010 and 2011 for a conference to negotiate a treaty in 2012.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/10/15/us-arms-usa-treaty-idUSTRE59E0Q920091015

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday it was withholding this month’s transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, after the United Nations’ de facto recognition of a Palestinian state.

Under interim peace deals, which Israel says the Palestinians violated by unilaterally seeking an upgrade of their status at the United Nations, it collects about $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the authority.

But, Israeli officials said, the authority owes about $200 million to the Israel Electric Corporation, and that money will now be deducted from the tax transfers.

The cash-strapped authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, largely depends on the tax money to pay civil servants’ salaries. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said Israel was guilty of “piracy and theft” by refusing to hand over the funds.

Israel has previously frozen payments to the body during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the U.N. cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership a year ago.

“I do not intend this month to transfer the funds to the Palestinians. In the coming period I intend to use the money to deduct debts the Palestinian Authority owes to the Israel Electric Corporation and other bodies,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Israel Radio.

The U.N. victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against upgrading the Palestinians’ observer status at the U.N. to “non-member state”, like the Vatican, from “entity”.

Hours after the U.N. vote, Israel said it was authorizing 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and expediting planning work for thousands more dwellings in a geographically sensitive area close to Jerusalem, which critics said would kill off Palestinian hopes of a viable state.

The United States said the expansion plan, which also drew strong European criticism, was counterproductive to the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks frozen since 2010.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Pravin Char)

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-withholds-palestinian-funds-u-n-vote-113933165.html

Russ Jones, ReligionToday.com Contributor Monday, November 19, 2012

Last week, Israel Defense Forces(IDF) launched air strikes in retaliation for rocket attacks from the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas, which primarily operates in the West Bank. More than 900 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the assassination of the commander of the Hamas military wing, Ahmed Jabari. Two missiles hit Tel Aviv Friday November 16 and others fired at Jerusalem. No injuries or damage were reported.

Palestinian terrorists have fired more than 12,000 at Israel in the past 12 years. The IDF says it will do whatever is necessary to protect Israeli citizens and “cripple the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian Authority has joined Hamas, the Sunni Muslim Palestinian extremist group based in the Gaza Strip, in its attacks against Israel. Additionally, intelligence shows Iran is supplying Hamas with Iranian-made Fajr-5 long-range missiles. Terrorists continue to stockpile more than 10,000 rockets in Gaza. These long-range missiles and rockets have forced families into bomb shelters and bunkers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the regular weekly cabinet meeting that the IDF “is prepared for a significant expansion of its operation.”

Netanyahu said he would continue to speak to world leaders and emphasize “the effort Israel is making to avoid hitting civilians, and this at a time when Hamas and the [other] terrorist organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel.”

The Foreign Ministry said it was the first time a missile was fired at Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted hundreds of missiles fired at major population centers in Israel.

Gaza health official, Ashraf al-Kidra, reports that the death toll has risen to some 70 Palestinians, both terrorists and civilians. Three Israelis were killed last Thursday.

Life Under Rocket Fire

While many Israelis are all too familiar with living with the threat of war, being in the Holy Land during a time such as this brings a heightened sense of anxiety.

“As I write these words, the beauty of Bethlehem is dipped into a pungent mist of burning tires and tear gas,”  Brian Schrauger, a social media consultant living in Bethlehem, wrote in an email. “It permeates the atmosphere and has slithered through the open windows into my room. I hope it dissipates before I head to bed.”

And in another email:

“I was out all day in Herzliya and Ra’anana near Tel Aviv,” Schrauger continued. “It was nice. I’m back now to another night of burning tire smoke laced with tear gas permeating the air in Bethlehem. Booms and sirens echo in the distance. Taxis are not seen. Word is, a growing confrontation is brewing by the [security] wall.”

For Sarit Haim, life has always been frightening. She lives near Tel Aviv where rockets from Gaza fly pass her house almost monthly.

She worries whenever she goes to work or when she sends her children to school and even when she is out shopping for groceries.

“The thought that you are not safe is horrifying,” she said. “I cannot imagine the life of the people who don’t know where to flee because their houses are not safe.”

While Haim is further away from the fighting, her fellow countrymen aren’t so fortunate.

The International Fellowship of Christians (The Fellowship) and Jews has pledged aid to communities in southern Israel. The Fellowship has pledged a $2.7 million emergency and security aid package, which includes supplies for people in Netivot, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Sdot Negev and Eshkol. Funds will help with new security projects, food, clothing and medical care, among other assistance.

”With 20 percent of the nation’s people in bomb shelters today, improving the security of the residents of the south is a vital priority for The Fellowship,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and CEO of The Fellowship. “The untenable situation of more than 1 million residents living under constant threat of rocket fire must top the list of concerns of every friend of Israel. We are working hand-in-hand with the Israel Ministry for Home Front Defense and the IDF, and we will continue to cooperate to ensure the security of Israel’s people.”

U.S., Other World Powers Mostly Silent

Five days into air attacks between Israel and Hamas, President Obama said Sunday that Israel has “every right” to defend itself against missile attacks by terrorists inside Gaza.

Obama said at a press conference in Thailand, “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

In the wake of the recent Hamas attacks, several lawmakers backed a House resolution expressing support for Israel’s right to act in self-defense.

New Jersey congressman Leonard Lance called for an end to the mounting terrorist attacks on Israel and urged President Barack Obama to stand with Israel, a close American ally in the Middle East.

The seventh congressional district lawmaker supported a bipartisan congressional resolution the House approved expressing support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense.” The U.S. Senate approved an identical measure late Friday, November 16, by unanimous consent.

“The resolution expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism,” said Lance.

“I am pleased the U.S. House in bipartisan manner reaffirmed America’s longstanding belief that Israel has every right to live in peace and defend itself,” said Lance. “When nearly 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets are being fired into Israel and killing innocent Israeli citizens, America must firmly stand with Israel and denounce the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas and others.”

Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “During these tumultuous times, it is important for President Obama to reiterate his unwavering support for our natural ally, Israel, and for Prime Minister Netanyahu. We must stand with Israel. Saying or doing nothing is a sign of weakness that will embolden the radical Islamic terrorists.”

“I am in regular contact with Israelis in Israel who provide me with first-hand accounts. The Israeli people are strong and resolved. They want peace, and they are determined to defend themselves against terrorists. They have that right and we must support them,” concluded Staver.

Anti-Israel Media Bias

CEO and founder of News Corporation and the creator of Fox Broadcasting Rupert Murdoch used Twitter to lash out at CNN and the Associated Press for biased anti-Israel coverage.

He tweeted: “Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?”

Earlier in the day, he also tweeted:

@rupertmurdoch: “Middle East ready to boil over any day. Israel position precarious. Meanwhile watch CNN and AP bias to point of embarrassment.”

Murdoch apologized for his “Jewish owned press” comments Sunday.

While it is uncertain whether there will be a ground invasion of Gaza, both the IDF and al-Qassam, Hamas’ military wing, have waged a war of words using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media outlets to get out their differing perspectives.

An IDF spokesman requested “no one posts anything on Facebook about where rockets and grads are falling and where sirens are being heard. Hamas intelligence can see all these posts and it can inadvertently help them with where to aim their rockets!!! Everyone take note and share.”

Expecting to find a general consensus from the Israeli population, however, Jonathan David, radio news anchor for Israel Today Magazine, said he discovered more diverse opinions than he anticipated. David maintains many Israelis found European news reports to be more biased than American coverage.

“There is a saying — if you ask 10 Israelis for their opinion, you will get 11 in return,” said David.

But David argues that most believers in Israel are united in their view of world events in the Middle East.

“Believers in Israel are more biblically literate and understand more about prophecy than American Christianity,” he said. “Americans are biblically illiterate compared to the believers in Israel. Believers here believe the Lord is in control and that ultimately enemies of Israel will be destroyed, according to Scripture.”

Russ JonesRuss Jones is a 25-year award-winning journalist and correspondent. He is co-publisher of various Christian news sites such as ChristianPress.com, OxfordFamily.com and a media consultant to a number of political and cause-oriented campaigns. He is also a freelance correspondent for the American Family Radio Network, a regular contributor for ReligionToday.com, Crosswalk.com and various Christian TV networks. He has been a guest on such programs as the Mike Gallagher Show, the Dennis Prager Show and Sandy Rios in the Morning. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia and St. Paul School of Theology. Russ is married to Jackie and together they have four children. He may be reached at russ@russjones.me or Facebook.com/russjones.

Publication date: November 19, 2012

http://www.religiontoday.com/news/israel-operation-pillar-of-defense-continues.html

By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller | Reuters 11-18-12

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli missile killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians including four children in Gaza on Sunday, medical officials said, apparently an attack on a top militant that brought a three-storey home crashing down.

              International pressure for a ceasefire seemed certain to mount in response to the deadliest single incident in five days of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

              Egypt has taken the lead in trying to broker a ceasefire and Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had been to Cairo for talks on ending the fighting, although a government spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

              Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi met Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad’s head Ramadan Shallah as part of the mediation efforts, but a presidency statement did not say if they were conclusive.

              Izzat Risheq, a close aide to Meshaal, wrote in a Facebook message that Hamas would agree to a ceasefire only after Israel “stops its aggression, ends its policy of targeted assassinations and lifts the blockade of Gaza”.

              Listing Israel’s terms for ceasing fire, Moshe Yaalon, a deputy to the prime minister, wrote on Twitter: “If there is quiet in the south and no rockets and missiles are fired at Israel’s citizens, nor terrorist attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack.”

              Gaza health officials said 72 Palestinians , 21 of them children and several women have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. Hundreds have been wounded.

              Israel gave off signs of a possible ground invasion of the Hamas-run enclave as the next stage in its offensive, billed as a bid to stop Palestinian rocket fire into the Jewish state. It also spelt out its conditions for a truce.

              U.S. President Barack Obama said that while Israel had a right to defend itself against the salvoes, it would be “preferable” to avoid a military thrust into the Gaza Strip, a narrow, densely populated coastal territory. Such an assault would risk high casualties and an international outcry.

              A spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said 11 people, all of them civilians, were killed when an Israeli missile flattened the home of the Dalu family. Medics said four women and four children were among the dead.

Israel’s chief military spokesman said Yihia Abayah, a senior commander of rocket operations in the Gaza Strip, had been the target.

The spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, told Israel’s Channel 2 television he did not know whether Abayah was killed, “but the outcome was that there were civilian casualties”. He made no direct mention of the destroyed dwelling.

              Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he had assured world leaders that Israel was doing its utmost to avoid causing civilian casualties in the military showdown with Hamas.

              “The massacre of the Dalu family will not pass without punishment,” Hamas’s armed wing said in a statement.

VIOLENCE

In other air raids on Sunday, two Gaza City media buildings were hit, witnesses said. Eight journalists were wounded and facilities belonging to Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV as well as Britain’s Sky News were damaged.

An employee of the Beirut-based al Quds television station lost his leg in the attack, local medics said.

              The Israeli military said the strike targeted a rooftop “transmission antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity”, and that journalists in the building had effectively been used as human shields by Gaza’s rulers.

              For their part, Gaza militants launched dozens of rockets into Israel and targeted its commercial capital, Tel Aviv, for a fourth day, once in the morning and another after dark.

Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile shield shot down all three rockets, but falling debris from the daytime interception hit a car, which caught fire. Its driver was not hurt.

              In scenes recalling Israel’s 2008-2009 winter invasion of Gaza, tanks, artillery and infantry massed in field encampments along the sandy, fenced-off border. Military convoys moved on roads in the area newly closed to civilian traffic.

              Netanyahu said Israel was ready to widen its offensive.

              “We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organisations and the Israel Defence Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation,” he said at a cabinet meeting, giving no further details.

              The Israeli military said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip, it added.

Israel’s declared goal is to deplete Gaza arsenals and force the Islamist Hamas to stop rocket fire that has bedevilled Israeli border towns for years and is now displaying greater range, putting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the crosshairs.

              Israel withdrew settlers from Gaza in 2005 and two years later Hamas took control of the impoverished enclave, which the Israelis have kept under blockade.

              OBAMA CAUTIONS AGAINST GROUND CAMPAIGN

              At a news conference during a visit to the Thai capital Bangkok, Obama said Israel has “every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory”.

              He added: “If this can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza that is preferable. That’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it’s also preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded,” he said.

              Obama said he had been in regular contact with Egyptian and Turkish leaders – to secure their mediation in bringing about a halt to rocket barrages by Hamas and other Islamist militants.

              “We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours,” he added.

              Diplomatic efforts continued on Sunday when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met Israeli officials and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

              “It is absolutely necessary that we move urgently towards a ceasefire, and that’s where France can be useful,” Fabius told French television, adding that war must be avoided.

              U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be in Egypt on Monday for talks with Mursi, the foreign ministry in Cairo said. U.N. diplomats earlier said Ban was expected in Israel and Egypt this week to push for an end to the fighting.

              Israel’s operation has so far drawn Western support for what U.S. and European leaders have called its right to self-defence, but there was also a growing number of appeals from them to seek an end to the hostilities.

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-gaza-fighting-rages-egypt-seeks-truce-011452233.html

THE LAST POSTING OF EGYPTS “THE FREE COPTS’  WAS ON JULY 30, 2011. WHY?

VISIT THIS SITE BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS FROM THE INTERNET ALONG WITH CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST:

http://english.freecopts.net/english/

 

By Gordon Bishop
 
    Here’s is what America’s illegal, fraudulent “president” has done to America in the first half of his occupation of the White House (you won’t believe it!):
 
    If any other president had doubled the National debt, which had taken more than 2 centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?
 
    If any other president had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved.
 
    If any other president had criticized a state law that he admitted he never read, would you think that he is just an ignorant hot head?
 
    If any president joined the country of Mexico and sued a state in the United States of America to force that state to continue to allow illegal immigration, would you question his patriotism and wonder who’s side he was on?
 
    If any other president had pronounced the Marine Corps, would you think him an idiot?
 
    If any other president had put 87,000 workers out of work by arbitrarily placing a moratorium on offshore oil drilling on companies that one of the best safety records of any industry because one foreign company had an accident, would you have agreed?
 
    If any other president had used a forged document as the basis of the moratorium that would render 87,000 American workers unemployed, would you support him?
 
    If any other president had been the first to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a  press conference, would you have laughed and said it’s more proof that he is inept on his own.
 
    If any other president had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income Taxes, would you have approved?
 
    If any other president had stated that there were 57 states in the United States, wouldn’t you have had second thoughts about his capabilities?
 
    If any other president had flown all the way to Denmark to make a five-minute speech how the Olympics would benefit him and his home town (Chicago), then getting back on Air Force One to go wherever he wants to be, would you not have thought he was an egotistical jerk?
    
    If any other president had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go to plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he’s a hypocrite?
    
    If any other president’s administration okayed Air Force one flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan, causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9/11?
 
    If any other p resident had created the positions of 32 “Czars” who report directly to him, by passing the House, Senate and Cabinet on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?
    
    If any other president had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?
 
    Once again, what is it about Obama that makes him so “brilliant and impressive?”
 
    Every statement and action in his e-mail is factual and directly attributable to Barack Hussein Obama.
        
    Every bumble is a matter of record and completely verifiable.
 
    “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
 
    Once again, all I can say is, “God Bless America?”
 
(Gordon Bishop is a ‘Who’s Who in the World’ national award-winning author, historian, syndicated columnist and New Jersey’s First “Journalist-of-the-Year”–1986/New Jersey Press Association, founded in 1854.)
http://worth-reading-blog.blogspot.com/2011/06/terrible-truth-about-barack-obama.html

 

By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Aron Heller, Associated Press 5-15-11
MAJDAL SHAMS, Golan Heights – Mobilized by calls on Facebook, thousands of Arab protesters marched on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, sparking clashes that left at least 15 people dead in an annual Palestinian mourning ritual marking the anniversary of Israel’s birth.

In a surprising turn of events, hundreds of Palestinians and supporters poured across the Syrian frontier and staged riots, drawing Israeli accusations that Damascus, and its ally Iran, orchestrated the unrest to shift attention from an uprising back home. It was a rare incursion from the usually tightly controlled Syrian side and could upset the delicate balance between the two longtime foes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads to Washington at the end of the week, said he ordered the military to act with “maximum restraint” but vowed a tough response to further provocations.

“Nobody should be mistaken. We are determined to defend our borders and sovereignty,” he declared in a brief address broadcast live on Israeli TV stations.

The violence showed Israel the extent of Arab anger over the Palestinian issue, beyond the residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and came at a critical time for U.S. Mideast policy.

President Barack Obama’s envoy to the region, George Mitchell, resigned Friday after more than two years of fruitless efforts. The U.S. president may now have to retool the administration’s approach to peacemaking. Obama is expected to deliver a Mideast policy speech in the coming week.

Deadly clashes also took place along Israel’s nearby northern border with Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip on Israel’s southern flank. The Israeli military said 13 soldiers were wounded, none seriously.

Sunday’s unrest — which came after activists used Facebook and other websites to mobilize Palestinians and their supporters in neighboring countries to march on the border with Israel — marked the first time the protests that have swept the Arab world in recent months have been directed at Israel.

The events carried a message for Israel: Even as it wrestles with the Palestinian demand for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war — there is a related problem of neighboring countries that host millions of Palestinians with aspirations to return.

The fate of Palestinian refugees is one of the thorniest issues that any Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will have to address.

Palestinians were marking the “nakba,” or “catastrophe” — the term they use to describe their defeat and displacement in the war that followed Israel’s founding on May 15, 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were uprooted. Today, the surviving refugees and their descendants number several million people.

Each year, Palestinians throughout the region mark the “nakba” with demonstrations. But never before have marchers descended upon Israel’s borders from all directions. The Syrian incursion was especially surprising.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war, and Syria demands the area back as part of any peace deal. Israel has annexed the territory. Despite hostility between the two countries, Syria has carefully kept the border quiet since the 1973 Mideast war.

Around midday, thousands of people approached the frontier, hoisting Palestinian flags, shouting slogans and throwing rocks and bottles at Israeli forces. When hundreds of people burst across the border fence into the Israeli-controlled town of Majdal Shams, surprised soldiers opened fire.

Syrian forces did not intervene — and Syrian officials reported four people were killed, and dozens wounded.

Rioters paraded through the town, flashing Syrian ID cards and holding Palestinian flags.

“This was a surprise for everyone. I have been here my whole life and never saw anything like this,” said Khatib Ibrahim, a 51-year-old resident who watched the clashes unfold as he worked in his family’s grove.

The Israeli army said more than 100 people were sent back to Syria by the time the unrest died down several hours later.

Israeli defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information, acknowledged the military was caught off guard by the violent marches.

Officials also said there were strong signs that Syria and its Iranian-backed Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, orchestrated the unrest.

“The Syrian regime is intentionally attempting to divert international attention away from the brutal crackdown of their own citizens to incite against Israel,” said Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman.

Israel’s military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told Channel 2 TV he also saw “fingerprints of Iranian provocation and an attempt to use ‘nakba day’ to create conflict.”

Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV was in place to film much of the day’s clashes, and defense officials said the activists were bused in from Palestinian refugee camps throughout Syria. Many of them held European passports and told interrogators they had been flown in from abroad for the march.

“It’s our land,” one of the infiltrators, Sufian Abdel Hamid, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “We won’t stop trying to come back.”

An explosion of unrest along the border could play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has faced two months of popular protests against political repression and rights abuses in his country. The uprising, in which human rights groups say more than 800 people have been killed, is the most serious challenge to the Assad family’s 40-year dynasty.

Assad has cast himself as the only person who can bring stability to Syria — a country with a volatile mixture of religions and sects, and with a hostile neighbor in Israel.

About 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the west, Israeli troops clashed with a large crowd of Lebanese demonstrators who approached that border. The military said it opened fire when protesters tried to damage the border fence. Security officials in Lebanon reported 10 dead.

It was the deadliest incident along the volatile border since Israel fought Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas during a monthlong war five years ago.

Sunday’s shooting erupted at the tense border village of Maroun el-Rass, which saw some of the fiercest fighting in 2006. Thousands of Palestinian refugees traveled to the village in buses adorned with posters that said: “We are returning.” Many came from the 12 crowded refugee camps in Lebanon where some 400,000 Palestinian refugees live.

Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers and riot police deployed heavily in the area, taking up positions along the electrified border fence and patrolling the area in military vehicles. Young Hezbollah supporters wearing yellow hats and carrying walkie-talkies organized the entry to the village and handed out Palestinian flags.

In Cairo, a security official said more than 1,000 protesters tried to push their way past a tight security cordon toward the Israeli Embassy, located on the top floor of a building. Egyptian soldiers guarding the embassy fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. One protester burned an Israeli flag.

There was also violence in a predictable location — Gaza.

Palestinian medics said 125 people were wounded when demonstrators in the Gaza Strip tried to approach a heavily fortified border crossing into Israel. One man was killed by an Israeli sniper. The military said he was trying to plant a bomb.

In Jordan, meanwhile, police blocked a group of protesters trying to reach the border with Israel. In addition, hundreds of West Bank Palestinian threw stones at Israeli police and burned tires at a checkpoint outside Jerusalem before they were dispersed.

Inside Israel, police were on high alert for disturbances among the country’s large Arab minority, and Israeli police spokeswoman Sigal Toledo said a deadly traffic incident involving an Arab truck driver in Tel Aviv was “most likely” an attack.

The truck plowed through a crowded street, crashing into a bus, several cars and pedestrians, killing one and injuring 16 others. Police said the 22-year-old driver claimed it was an accident, but a witness said he had to subdue the man and that he was shouting slogans against Jews.

___

Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Maroun al-Rass, Lebanon, Elizabeth Kennedy in Beirut, Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Jamal Halaby in Southern Shuneh, Jordan, contributed to this report.