Israel has the right to defend itself, just as every sovereign nation, the United States said following Naksa Day clashes by Syrian protesters along the Israel-Syrian border, AFP reported.

The US State Department says it is “deeply troubled,” calls for both sides to exercise restraint after Syrian TV reports 20 people dead, 225 injured as thousands of protesters attempt to breach northern border.

“We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided. Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself,” the State Department said in a statement.

“We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of life,” the statement added.

Earlier Sunday, hundreds of Palestinian rioters repeatedly tried to infiltrate Israel throughout in two locations on the Israeli-Syrian border, but were rebuffed by an IDF determined to prevent a repeat of ‘Nakba’ day scenes in which activists spilled into Israeli territory.

Syrian television claimed 20 activists were killed and 225 were wounded in the disturbances, although the claims could not be independently verified.

“The responsibility for the incidents and the casualties falls on those carrying out these provocations, and on all those who encouraged them to act in this way,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

As night fell on Sunday, an unknown number of rioters encamped themselves in the area, raising the possibility of a drawn-out confrontation that could last days.

Early on Sunday morning, Palestinians from the suburbs of Damascus were bused to the Majdal Shams border area, and to the abandoned Syrian border town of Kunetra.

They amassed at the border without interference from Syrian troops, in what the IDF described as a provocation by Syrian dictator Basher Assad that was designed to distract world attention away from the ongoing slaughter of protesters in Syria by Assad’s troops.

The Reform Syria opposition website said on Sunday that the ‘Naksa’ protesters were poor farmers who were paid 1000 dollars by the Syrian regime to arrive at the border. The source also claimed that Syria has promised 10,000 dollars to the families of anyone killed in the disturbances.

Soon arriving at the Majdal Shams area, a group of some 150 activists broke away from the others and descended a steep hill on the Syrian side, advancing towards the Israeli border.

IDF soldiers shouted warnings in Arabic via loudspeakers asking the Palestinians to refrain from attempting to cross the international frontier, adding that those who would would were endangering their lives.

The activists ignored the calls, crossed the Syrian border fence and made their way towards an Israeli forward border fence erected by IDF engineers in recent weeks, entering a mined zone.

“When the demonstrators continued toward the Israeli fence, shots were fired at their lower bodies. We know of 12 injuries,” an IDF spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post Thursday at noon.

Meanwhile, at Kunetra, a second infiltration attempt was underway.

Between 200 to 300 demonstrators amassed. In the area, and climbed on the roof of an abandoned cinema, from where they began hurling rocks at security forces.

Four land mines exploded on the Syrian side of the border, after the rioters threw Molotov cocktails, which exploded in a field, starting a fire which then set off the explosives.

The IDF was unaware of the number of casualties caused by the explosions.

Throughout the pitched battles, paramedics on the Syrian side of the border requested that the IDF grant them ceasefires to clear the wounded. The IDF agreed to the requests, but then observed activists exploiting the quiet to try and cut the border fence, bringing the truce to an end.

“The IDF has learned its lessons [from Nakba day] quickly,” said IDF Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai. “This is an army that investigates itself and learns. We can see this [today],” he added.

Throughout the disturbances, two armed suspects were identified near the border fence in Kunetra, though their identity was not established.

By Yaakov Lappin, Ben Hartman and Staff