Jerusalem (CNN) -- Clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces erupted along Israel's borders Sunday, leaving at least 12 dead on a Palestinian mourning day marking the birth of the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried what he called "violent demonstrations" aimed at undermining Israel's existence.
"We hope for the peace and restfulness to return quickly, but no one should be mistaken -- we are determined to defend our borders and our sovereignty," Netanyahu said.
The conflicts broke out on "Nakba Day." Nakba -- Arabic for "catastrophe" -- marks the period when more than 700,000 Arabs were displaced from their homes during the fighting following the creation of Israel in 1948.
Two protesters were killed and 170 were wounded when fighting broke out in the Golan Heights area, the Syrian Arab News Agency said. And at least 10 were killed and 112 others were injured in clashes along the border with Lebanon, Lebanon's state news agency reported.
“I see fingerprints of Iranian provocation and an attempt to use Nakba Day to create conflict,” said Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, a spokesman for the Israeli army. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of sending protesters across the border to deflect attention from domestic unrest.
The violence comes as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are at a standstill and protests move through the Arab world, with demonstrators ousting the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia and threatening the regimes in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.
“The wave of anger that has been sweeping across Arab societies is clearly coming to Israel’s shores now,” said Yoram Meital, director of Ben Gurion University’s Herzog Center for Middle East Studies in Beersheva. “Today’s violence was unprecedented in the way that it happened on several borders at once, and I don’t think it’s over.”
This video is from a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah:
Hundreds of Palestinians moved across the Syrian border into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The border breach set off several hours of violent clashes in which at least four people were killed. At the Qalandiya checkpoint on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank, Israeli troops rushed in to disperse protesters, leaving several wounded. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that he will vigorously defend his country's borders after the mass infiltration from Syria.