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Monday strike called to mourn Nakba fallen

May 15, 2011 10:01 P.M. (Updated: May 17, 2011 9:47 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Islamic and national factions had called for a two-hour general strike in the West Bank on Monday, to mourn those killed during events marking the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.

Coordinator of the factions Wasel Abu Yousef said the strike would begin at 8:00 am and end at 10:00 am, saying the hours would allow Palestinians to commemorate the Palestinians and Syrians killed "while defending their right to return to their land."

Reports by the end of the day tallied 13 killed by Israeli fire in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, where protesters marched toward their borders with Israel and demanded their right to return to the homes and villages from which they were expelled.

In the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Druze from Syria breached the border briefly, and according to Israeli news reports were returned to Syria by Israel's military and police forces after soldiers opened fire on the group.

Two demonstrators have been confirmed dead from the incident, which took place near Majdal Shams, the hub city of the occupied Golan, which was taken from Syria by Israel in the 1967 war.

Palestinian refugees gathered on Lebanon's border with Israel, and reportedly attempted to breach the border near the town of Maroun Ar-Ras. Officials have said between four and ten were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on the demonstrators.

Refugees in Gaza marched toward the Erez crossing between the Strip and Israel, with medics confirming one teenager was killed by Israeli fire.

Hundreds were injured in protests across the West Bank.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an address following the shootings, and vowed that Israel would continue to protect its borders faced with those who sought its destruction.

"Their struggle is not over the 1967 borders, but it questions the very existence of Israel, which they describe as a catastrophe which must be resolved," he said in a televised address.

"We are determined to defend our borders and our sovereignty."

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