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Feeling winds of Arab Spring, Israel douses sparks of Palestinian uprising

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Israel's army has faced unrest on multiple fronts over the past month. On May 15, Palestinians and their supporters mounted unprecedented border protests in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria to mark the nakba or "catastrophe" of Israel’s independence.

On June 5, hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators challenged Israeli soldiers at the border of the Golan Heights in the worst violence since 1973. Foreign activists, meanwhile, are planning to mount another flotilla to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip later this month – a repeat of an attempt last year in which the killing of nine demonstrators helped build international pressure on Israel to ease the blockade.

And the demonstrators today in Nabi Saleh, where they've been trying for months to march to a spring near the village that Israeli settlers had expropriated, were again thwarted by the military.

After having put down an armed uprising that began in 2000 and killed more than 6,000 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis, Israel’s army has tried hard to stop the protests in villages like Nabi Saleh.

"I think [Israelis] perceive it would be the spark that would ignite the whole area," says Gershon Baskin, the director of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information who joined the protesters today. "It’s very difficult to have a response ... if the Palestinians do it in a serious way, and you have thousands of Palestinians marching peacefully toward settlements or toward Jerusalem."

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