May 16, 2011 / 4:06 PM / in 8 years

U.N. condemns Israeli fire at Lebanon border protest

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United Nations condemned on Monday Israel’s “disproportionate, deadly force” against demonstrators mourning the anniversary of the founding of Israel.

Israeli soldiers fired at a demonstration at the Lebanese border village of Maroun al-Ras on Sunday, killing 10 Palestinians, security sources and the Lebanese army said.

The protest in Lebanon coincided with similar ones at Israel’s frontiers with Gaza and Syria, where Israeli troops shot at demonstrators to prevent crowds from crossing frontier lines.

“I am shocked by the number of the deaths and the use of disproportionate, deadly force by the Israeli Defense Forces against apparently unarmed demonstrators, which I condemn,” U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said.

“I strongly reiterate the need for all sides to exercise maximum restraint, to prevent the recurrence of such violence and to strictly adhere to resolution 1701,” said Williams, referring to the U.N. resolution that halted hostilities between Israel and Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah in a 2006 war.

Sunday’s demonstrators were marking the anniversary of Israel’s founding in 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were dispossessed.

Some funerals of those killed took place in the Palestinian refugee camps in the southern cities of Sidon and Tyre on Monday.

Israel said Sunday’s incursions were a provocation inspired by arch-enemy Iran. The White House on Monday expressed regret for the loss of life in the clashes, but said Israel had the right to protect its borders.

Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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