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Protesters, Israeli Troops Clash At Border

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

GUY RAZ, Host:

Phil, first of all, what happened?

PHILIP REEVES: Another crowd gathered not far away from there, a little to the east, in a border town in Syria that abuts the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Reports say that that crowd comprised Palestinian refugees. And the Israeli military says that the crowd were trying to infiltrate Israeli-controlled territory. Israeli forces opened fire there too. And again, there were several more fatalities.

RAZ: These demonstrations, Phil, are held annually. What explains the level of violence this year?

REEVES: However, it is true that the Palestinians are in a buoyant mood right now. They feel that their cause has gained new traction because of the reconciliation after a long and messy feud between their two main factions, Hamas and Fatah.

RAZ: Now, Israel is accusing both Syria and Iran of organizing these demonstrations; the Israelis say to divert attention away from recent protests in Syria. Is there any evidence of that?

REEVES: Plus, remember, that President Obama is about to make a big speech on the Middle East. So there is a lot at stake right now.

RAZ: That's NPR's Philip Reeves in Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Guy Raz is an independent producer who has been described by the New York Times as "one of the most popular podcasters in history."