Israel: Deadly response to Gaza border protest
“What is the cost of spilling the blood of defenseless civilians?” asked The National (United Arab Emirates) in an editorial. “Nothing, if you are Israel.” Some 30,000 Palestinian men, women, and children gathered in Gaza last week to peacefully demand “the most basic human rights from one of the most ruthless colonial regimes in history.” Most of the demonstrators stayed in a tent city several hundred yards away from the border with Israel, which has created a humanitarian catastrophe through its 11-year blockade of Gaza. Medicine is scarce in the enclave “and there are crippling shortages of electricity and fuel.” During the protest, a few angry young Gazans hurled stones at Israeli troops and burned tires along the border fence. Israeli soldiers retaliated with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 1,000. It was “a completely disproportionate response in an occupied land where they are the invaders.” Chilling video shows one young man fatally shot in the back as he ran away from the border.
That’s just what Hamas wanted, said The Jerusalem Post (Israel). The Islamists who run Gaza can no longer hurt Israel with rockets, thanks to our Iron Dome missile defense system, so they have a new tactic: swarm the border, hurling Molotov cocktails and planting explosives. During last week’s protest, “thousands of young Palestinian men, many of whom were known Hamas terrorists, attempted to rush the fence.” The goal was death, because dead Palestinians make Israel look bad. The strategy works, said Gerald Steinberg, also in the Post. Yes, at least 10 of the dead were known terrorists, but Israel’s image took a beating in the world’s press, which portrayed “Palestinians in their standard role as the innocent victims.”
These protests are only going to intensify, said Gaza-based activist Muhammad Shehada in Israel’s Ynetnews.com. Called the “Return March,” last week’s gathering was just the start of six weeks of demonstrations leading up to the May 15 anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes following Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence. When we mark the Nakba this year, desperate but peaceful protesters “will approach the fence, lift the gates, and walk into Israel” to reclaim their birthright. Nothing will deter them. “Not even death.”
Hamas is largely to blame for Gazans’ misery, said Amos Harel in Ha’aretz (Israel). It spends tens of millions of dollars a year on its military wing, money that should be used to rebuild Gaza’s crumbling infrastructure and to provide jobs for the territory’s 2 million people. But as long as Israel refuses to ease its near-total blockade of the enclave, the anger and agony of ordinary Gazans will continue to swell. “This abscess is bound to burst, whether in a humanitarian disaster or another military clash.” ■