PM: Naksa Day events meant to heat up Syrian border

Netanyahu pledges Israel will "act to protect border"; US says there's a clear attempt at incitement by Syria, ISrael has right to defend itself.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 6, 2011 20:26
2 minute read.
Netanyahu

Netanyahu 311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the "Naksa Day" events Sunday on the Syrian border were an attempt to heat up the border and were not about the 1967 Six Day War, speaking to a Likud faction meeting on Monday.

The United States also leveled heavy criticism against the Syrian government's role in the Naksa Day violence.

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"This is clearly an attempt by Syria to incite these kinds of protests," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, saying Damascus hoped to divert attention from its own internal problems. "Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself."

The IDF, Netanyahu told Likud legislators, acted "against its own rules rules of engagement" in order to minimize casualties, emphasizing that Israel "will act according to our right to protect our border."

They Syrian government, the prime minister charged, did not "use its weight to stop the events from happening."

Hundreds of Palestinian rioters repeatedly tried to infiltrate Israel throughout Sunday in two locations on the Syrian border, but were rebuffed by an IDF determined to prevent a repeat of the “Nakba Day” scenes in which activists spilled into Israeli territory.

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Israel Radio reported that the Syrian Health Minister Wael al-Halki claimed 23 activists were killed, and 350 were wounded, in the clashes to commemorate the Palestinian “Naksa,” or “setback” in Six Day War, although the numbers could not be verified.

Discussing the issue of Palestinian refugees, which was one of the central themes of both Nakba and Naksa Day events, Netanyahu discussed the different ways that Israel and the Arab countries dealt with refugee Issues in 1948.

"In 1948, two refugee problems - around the same size - were created," he said. "Little Israel absorbed its refugees, while the big Arab world didn't," referring to Jews from Arab countries who fled to Israel following the Jewish state's creation.

Yaakov Lappin and Herb Keinon contributed to this report

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