Israeli troops clashed with Arab protesters today along three hostile borders, including the frontier with Syria, leaving 16 people dead and dozens more wounded in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations marking a Palestinian day of mourning for their defeat at Israel's hands in 1948. Along Israel's border with Syria, thousands of protesters stormed the fence and hundreds burst through, pelting soldiers with stones, the military said. Soldiers guarding the border opened fire to stop them.
It was a rare incursion from the usually tightly controlled Syrian side, and Israeli officials accused Damascus of fomenting the violence in an attempt to divert attention from the deadly crackdown on protests within its borders against the rule of President Bashar Assad. Clashes also occurred at the Lebanon and Gaza Strip borders, and in Jordan, police blocked a group of protesters trying to reach the Israel border. The unrest marked the first time the protest tactics that have swept the Arab world in recent months have been directed at Israel.