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A state-sponsored mass shooting

On a day when military snipers shot hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, the army declares that ‘the circumstances in which journalists were wounded are unknown.’ The circumstances couldn’t be clearer.

Palestinian protesters take cover behind a dirt mound as Israeli soldiers open fire from across the border in the distance, east of Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018. Israeli snipers have killed over 30 people and shot over 1,000 others since The Great Return March began a week earlier. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters take cover behind a dirt mound as Israeli soldiers open fire from across the border in the distance, east of Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018. Israeli snipers have killed over 30 people and shot over 1,000 others since The Great Return March began a week earlier. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Israeli army sharpshooters and snipers have shot over 1,000 unarmed Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip in the past week, killing more than 30 people. This past Friday, at least six Palestinian journalists were reportedly among those shot at the Great Return March. One of them, Yasser Murtaja, a photographer for “Ain Media” who was reportedly wearing a helmet and vest clearly marked “PRESS” when he was shot, later died of his wounds.

“The IDF doesn’t target journalists with gunfire,” numerous publications quoted an Israeli army spokesperson as saying on Saturday, adding that “the circumstances in which journalists were wounded, supposedly by IDF gunfire, are unknown and are being looked into.”

Let’s stop right there.

The circumstances in which Palestinian journalists were shot by Israeli army gunfire couldn’t be clearer. The circumstances are that the Israeli army has shot upwards of 1,000 unarmed protesters in the span of a week.

Mourners and fellow journalists carry the body of Yasser Murtaja at his funeral in Gaza City, April 7, 2018. Murtaja was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during the Great Return March in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Mourners and fellow journalists carry the body of Yasser Murtaja at his funeral in Gaza City, April 7, 2018. Murtaja was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during the Great Return March in the southern Gaza Strip. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

The circumstances are that the Israeli military, which insists it doesn’t target journalists, has a highly discouraging record of failing to hold its soldiers and pilots and generals accountable for targeting and killing journalists in Gaza. That includes the 2012 assassination of two journalists who were traveling in a car clearly marked “TV,” numerous airstrikes on media and broadcast offices, and more.

The circumstances are that, week in and week out, Israeli security forces consistently fail to differentiate between Palestinian journalists and the protests and events they are covering, using violence against both without distinction. In countless cases, documented and undocumented, journalists have been clearly targeted by troops — and the army often brazenly defends that violence.

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I am generally wary of making any predictions but here’s how I see this playing out. The Israeli army will eventually come out with a statement about how it cannot reach any definitive conclusions about who shot Yasser Murtaja, or why he was shot, but it will be able to definitively conclude that the Israeli army doesn’t target journalists — so he surely was mistakenly hit. A tragedy that can be blamed entirely on Hamas. (Hamas is always to blame.)

But Murtaja was not the only journalist shot by Israeli snipers that day. Shooting one wrong person could conceivably be an accident. Six journalists shot on the same day suggests something more sinister.

Palestinian protesters evacuate a fellow demonstrator who was shot by an Israeli sniper during the Great Return March protest, east of Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters evacuate a fellow demonstrator who was shot by an Israeli sniper during the Great Return March protest, east of Jabaliya, Gaza Strip, April 6, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

We already know that in previous protests in Gaza soldiers have been given almost no guidance on who to shoot — just to shoot people. We also know that in the past senior Israeli officials have justified targeting Palestinian journalists. (Like clockwork, Israel’s defense minister publicly justified Murtaja’s killing Saturday night.) We also know that soldiers are rarely held accountable for harming journalists, particularly Palestinian ones. And then there are cases like the 2014 Nakba Day killings, where a rogue sniper in uniform just decided to start killing people.

We’ll probably never know who killed Yasser Murtaja.

The truth of the matter is that while it is especially outrageous when security forces harm journalists, particularly if you are a journalist yourself, the wanton use of live ammunition against unarmed people demonstrating on the other side of a fortified border, no matter what they were doing at the time and no matter what their job title or political affiliation, is simply indefensible.

It’s time to start calling this what it is: a series of state-sponsored mass shootings, which we can expect to see repeated for the next five weeks. Demanding that the army investigate the killing of one journalist is not enough.

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    COMMENTS

      • Ben

        Exactly, Bruce Gould. And Michael Omer-Man. Israel wants the outside world to believe that there are nothing but Hamas-crazed zombies on the other side of that fence. But even the good grey lady, the New York Times, never a newspaper that would bother to tell the world anything like the truths +972 is telling, is now starting, hesitantly, partially, to tell the real story.

        Read it, dear reader. This is what Israel faces, all because it thought it could avoid a decent coming to terms, could disdain human rights, and could comfortably “manage the conflict” for another fifty years. (And apparently it thought Trump was its gift from God and that this allowed it to double down? A mistake.) Turns out the people of Gaza are not the Hamas-worshipping, terror-crazed, violence-loving imbeciles some would have us believe they are.
        Retired General Giora Eiland talks of what is “intolerable” but note Yousef Munayyer’s reference to Selma, Alabama:

        Though Deadly, Gaza Protests Draw Attention and Enthusiasm
        https://news.google.com/news/amp?caurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F04%2F07%2Fworld%2Fmiddleeast%2Fgaza-protests-israel.html#pt0-390512

        “…they might be onto something. The Israelis, for a variety of reasons, have long been worried about such a shift….”

        Reply to Comment
    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      As soon as these manipulated masses stop approaching the Israeli border and stop targeting our soldiers with Molotov cocktails and stones the shooting will stop. The use of inflamed tires is a cause of irresponsible pollution. Because of these disturbances launched by the Hamas, our soldiers could not celebrate Passover and family Shabbat.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        This is not an appropriate time for satire.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          It is not satire but reality. Bombs have been discovered near the border by the Israeli army. These Arab demonstrations are anything but peaceful.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            He does it again! Halevy extends his own world record in utterly missing the point! He’s unstoppable!

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            “Bombs have been discovered near the border by the Israeli army. These Arab demonstrations are anything but peaceful.”

            What if you are telling the truth?

            UN Charter Chapter VII
            Article 51
            “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

            The UN Security Council has been trying for decades to get Israel to get out of Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Lewis from Afula

      The Potential invaders need to be taught a lesson that they and the World will never forget !
      Time for Feiglin

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Well, there you go. You said it not me. Cats outta the bag. The jig is up. The Israeli government, which for fifty years pretended that violence was the problem, was never really going to accept non-violence, was it? Or a peaceful two state solution. As they have admitted, “We don’t do Gandhi well.”

        By Noam Sheizaf |Published March 11, 2016
        Why do we only listen to violence?
        https://972mag.com/why-do-we-only-listen-to-violence/117773/

        Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Ben’s idea of democracy is that a bunch of “enlightened individuals” like Leftist judges decide all important matters.

            For example, the Knesset voted by a majority to expel the single illegal infiltrators back to Uganda – together with $3500 lump sum. Yet the Judges on the Supreme Court decided that doing so is illegal for some reason. In effect, Ben’s democracy is that a bunch of unelected officials decide everything because their “better than the rest of us”. Moshe Feiglin is opposed to Ben’s twisted democracy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I think than anyone who has even a 10-year-old’s civics education in the three co-equal American branches of government, and who has actually read and understands Tomer Persico’s article, knows that Lewis from Afula has no idea what he is talking about.

            Reply to Comment
    3. john

      on cue, the besieged israelis reiterate bruce gould.
      pollution and ‘potential’ invasion are such serious problems, human life should be wasted to prevent both.

      Reply to Comment