UN head airs 'deep concern' over Naksa Day clashes

Ban Ki-moon warns that violence on Syrian the frontier jeopardizes long-held cease-fire, urges restraint from both sides.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/ Joshua Lott)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed "deep concern" over Naksa Day clashes that took place between IDF soldiers and pro-Palestinian protesters attempting to infiltrate Israel's borders on Sunday, AFP reported. He called on all parties involved in the Israeli-Arab conflict to exercise "maximum restraint."
"The secretary-general regrets the loss of life, and extends his condolences to the families of the victims," said a statement by Ban's spokesman. Syria claimed 23 activists were killed, and 350 were wounded, in the clashes to commemorate the Palestinian “Naksa,” or “setback” of the 1967 Six-Day War on Sunday, although the numbers could not be verified. The IDF rejected the reports of 23 deaths as "exaggerated," Army Radio reported on Monday.
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Ban condemned "the use of violence and all actions intended to provoke violence," in the statement. "The events of today and of 15 May on the Golan put the long-held cease-fire in jeopardy," the statement warned, referencing last month's Nakba Day protests, which reportedly left 14 infiltrators on the Lebanese and Syrian borders dead. "The secretary-general calls for maximum restraint on all sides and strict observance of international humanitarian law to ensure protection of civilians."
Earlier on Monday,  Israel Radio reported that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to file a complaint with the United Nations against Syria for its use of Palestinian demonstrators to challenge Israel's sovereignty.
A government official stated that it was clear the Syrian government gave the green light for the protesters to move toward the border.
“One can only suppose that there was a decision taken in Syria to exploit the situation to change the subject from what is going on inside Syria,” the official said. The official also asked whether the Palestinians feel comfortable “being used as a propaganda tool by an authoritative government butchering its own people.”
The Reform Syria opposition website said on Sunday that the “Naksa” protesters were poor farmers who were paid $1,000 by the Syrian regime to come to the border. The source also claimed that Syria has promised $10,000 to the families of anyone killed.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report