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IDF intercepts Gaza boat trying to escape the blockade

Carrying 17 people, including university students, cancer patients, and protesters wounded by Israeli forces during the Great Return March, the Gaza boat was headed towards Cyprus before IDF gunboats intercepted it.

By Meron Rapoport, Mohammed Zaanoun, and +972 Magazine Staff

Israeli gunships intercepted a Palestinian boat attempting to break Israel’s naval siege of the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon. The attempt to break the blockade comes two weeks after Israeli soldiers killed at least 60 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands of others at the Gaza-Israel separation barrier on Gaza’s eastern boundary.

The boat was headed to Limassol, Cyprus, and was part of a small flotilla comprised of three boats in total. The two other boats turned back and did not breach the naval blockade line enforced by the IDF. The IDF does not allow Palestinians to venture more than nine miles off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

The boat that the IDF intercepted was carrying 17 people. Those on board were mainly university students, but also included cancer patients and protesters wounded during the Return March seeking medical care outside of the besieged Gaza Strip, flotilla participants said.

“We are two university graduates, we lost hope of finding work in Gaza. Life in Gaza is impossible. We want a secure future. We are leaving for the sake of freedom,” flotilla participants Shadi al Nakleh, 28, and Ihab abu Armaneh, 29, told +972 correspondent Mohammed Zaanoun.

“We have no connection to any political party in Palestine,” the participants added. “We are sailing peacefully, without any weapons. Our message to the world is that we want peace — our journey is nonviolent.”

Asked about the risks their journey could entail, the participants responded, “We believe we will arrive in peace, but there are clear dangers: attack, arrest, the sinking the ship.”

“But the most important thing is that we will get their peacefully,” they stressed. “All other messages have failed.”

“Shadi told me that he wanted to leave, that he wanted to find work,” said Shadi’s mother. “He made his decision — what can I do? May God protect him from danger.”

After Israeli naval forces intercepted the boat, the IDF spokesperson announced that the boat would be towed to a naval base in Ashdod and the passengers returned to Gaza.

The interception of the Cyprus-bound boat comes just as another Freedom Flotilla, which departed the Norwegian port of Bergen on April...

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With its new embassy in Jerusalem, Bibi will ignore Paraguay's Nazi past

At the opening ceremony of Paraguay’s new embassy in Jerusalem, Netanyahu spoke about common values such as democracy, tolerance, and coexistence. He failed to mention the fact that Paraguay gave asylum to Nazi war criminals.

By Eitay Mack

Taking a cue from the Trump administration, Paraguay was the third country to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week. Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and outgoing Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes spoke at the ceremony to inaugurate the new embassy, in which they both delivered speeches rife with embarrassing historical distortions.

During his speech, Cartes said that “our friendship is based on common principles such as democracy, tolerance and respect, a lack of discrimination, and peaceful coexistence.” One can only assume that in a worldwide poll asking people which countries symbolize democracy, tolerance and respect, a lack of discrimination, and peaceful coexistence, few would likely choose Israel or Paraguay.

After all, Israel has a record of 51 years of occupying the Palestinian territories, as well as discrimination against and oppressing its Palestinian citizens, while Paraguay has a record of successive military dictatorships. The country’s last dictator, General Alfredo Stroessner, ran the country as a police state for 35 years, and was responsible for the torture of tens of thousands of citizens, and disappeared hundreds of others. Women and girls who were arrested were sexually tortured and raped.

Netanyahu and his associates are not the only ones summoned for police interrogations over corruption allegations. Cartes is also suspected of corruption, fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and even drug trafficking. Like Netanyahu, who used his elections campaign to incite against Arab citizens, Cartes, who is supported by the right and the extreme right in Paraguay, incited against the LGBTQ community during his campaign, labeling them monkeys, and saying that if it turns out that his son is gay, he will shoot himself in the testicles.

A haven for Nazis 

Netanyahu told Cartes that “this is a great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship. You’ve done much for your country, much for our country, and now you’re doing something for both our countries. And this follows the example and I would say practice of Paraguay for many, many years. Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany. We will never forget this. You did this before the...

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The British Jewish community won't silence our solidarity with Gaza

Young British Jews are facing a torrent of hatred from their own community for expressing solidarity with Gaza. And yet, more British Jews are struggling to see the values they hold reflected in the Israeli government.

By Rob Abrams

A group of mostly young British Jews took a large step forward in shifting the British Jewish community’s debate on Israel and the occupation this past week. Around 50 British Jews, shocked by the scale of death in Gaza, after Israeli snipers shot dead 60 Palestinians in a single day, gathered in Parliament Square in central London to name the dead and recite the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer.

Although this certainly wasn’t the first time we have spoken out against the violence unleashed on Gaza, this time felt notably different. Standing among us weren’t just the usual suspects from various left-wing Jewish groups such as the Jewish Socialist Group or Jewdas.. There were community leaders; youth movement counselors, rabbis, and young people engaged in their synagogues and communities.

This is reflective of a massive groundswell of change that has taken place within the community in recent years. Many British Jews, old and young alike, are struggling to see the values they hold reflected in an Israeli government that has long turned its back on them. Among my peers in the community, it is now relatively rare to find anyone not critical in some way of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people.

This makes sense. You can only spend so long teaching Jewish children biblical teachings of pursuing justice before they start asking why some in our community seem to interpret this as “justice for some.” Whether theologically correct or not, their Judaism is built on the notion of “justice for all.”

So why have they waited until now to speak out? Because the stick is far bigger than the carrot. As we stood in Parliament Square, we were helpless to prevent a small number of far-right activists from documenting us. Subsequently, the week since has been a disturbing reminder of the following fact; when a British Jew steps out of line, the full weight of the community will fall on them.

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We had barely left the square before videos appeared online, published by the Israel Advocacy Network, accusing us of being terrorist sympathizers. Community...

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Beyond American hegemony and a liberal international order

With Trump’s departure from the Iran deal, many are mourning the ‘rules based international order.’ But Trump is not the problem: the world has changed, and the idea that the U.S. dominates the world by dint of power, values, wisdom, even God’s decisions is a myth.

By Gordon Adams

America’s place in the world is experiencing an historic turning point. All the mumbo-jumbo about being the “exceptional” and “indispensable” nation, the natural “leader” of something called the “West,” the guarantor of some kind of international system of “rules” is finally being cast into the dustbin of history.

This moment is not just about leaving the Iran nuclear agreement, or even the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate agreement. It is not simply attributable to the unpredictable, childish impulses of the current president. Nor is it the result of Obama’s failure to enforce a red line in Syria, or “leading from behind” in Libya. It is not even about Bush’s invasion of Iraq with the goal of regime change, setting in motion the destruction of what little political stability existed in the Middle East.

Of course, it is about all these decisions. But in every case, those decisions, and even the critics of those decisions, have failed to realize how they have played into, helped cause, and now accelerate a fundamental shift in global realities—the centrifugal redistribution of power and influence in the international system that has brought to an end the “American century.” The United States has become just another power in a system for which it no longer sets or enforces the rules, if it ever really did.

Both political parties fail to cope with this reality. Democrats and liberals insist that Trump’s foreign-policy decisions threaten the “rules-based” international order America built and dominated. A simple change in leadership, they believe, can restore order and America’s primacy. Republicans demand bellicose American assertiveness, believing that force and military strength guarantee that the world will behave. Columnists bewail America’s declining status, arguing that greater investment in allies and diplomacy, combined with military engagement might reverse the tide. Think tanks scurry to define new national security and military policies that can put America back on top.

This debate is a circular firing squad. Both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are struggling to recreate a myth: that the U.S. dominates the world by dint of power, values, wisdom, even God’s decisions. America, and only...

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U.S. Embassy celebrations: A who's who of the Israeli arms trade

Only around 30 countries took part in the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s gala celebrating the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem last week. Not coincidentally, Israel’s ties with most of them are based on arms sales used to carry out gross human rights violations. 

By Eitay Mack

[Correction added below.]

Immediately following the end of the 1967 War, the State of Israel began a massive diplomatic campaign aimed at convincing countries around the world to oppose resolutions in international forums demanding the Jewish state unilaterally withdraw from the occupied territories. Israel attempted to buy the votes of murderous dictatorships and military juntas in exchange for weapons and training.

The campaign failed, and until 1973 many countries cut off diplomatic relations with Israel. The support of dictatorships and military governments, such as the Pinochet regime in Chile, lacked all practical significance, since those same countries were already isolated, and their votes paled in comparison to the rest of the world, which viewed the Israeli occupation as illegal and demanded its end.

Ahead of last week’s Israeli Foreign Ministry gala celebrating the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Haaretz journalist Noa Landau published a list of countries that said they would attend. The shameful list attests to Israel’s ongoing failure to persuade the international community to support the annexation of East Jerusalem.

The majority of the countries that attended have no geopolitical significance, and their participation mostly reflects momentary political interests that may change in the future. Take Burma and South Sudan, two countries whose regimes are currently busy carrying out ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and have no ability to bear influence on other countries or support the annexation of East Jerusalem.

The unstable regime of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who supports the annexation as part of his campaign of flattery vis-a-vis the Trump administration, to try and convince it to renege on its support for anti-corruption reforms in the country. It may be that in a few months, Morales will be booted out of office and find himself facing criminal charges.

Israeli ties with the majority of countries that attended the ceremony are based on continual Israeli security exports, used for repression, political persecution, murder, rape, and torture. This is why their support for the annexation of East Jerusalem may change with a transformation in their respective regimes:

Angola. Israel supported the apartheid regime in South Africa in carrying out its crimes during the civil...

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The case against dismantling the Iran deal: A view from Israel

All those arguing that the deal wasn’t working or that it wasn’t ‘good enough’ are misrepresenting the facts. Here’s how they’re doing it and why they’re wrong.

By Shemuel Meir

Making good on his ultimatum, the American President trumpeted  America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) earlier this month. This was the opening salvo in a drive to crush the deal that has blocked Iran’s path to nuclear weapons. The U.S. abandoned an agreement to which it was a signatory without as much as a single breach on Iran’s part. Netanyahu rushed to hail Trump’s “bold decision,” considering this the materialization of his dream to dismantle “the bad nuclear deal.” Trump’s announcement was likely coordinated with Netanyahu.

Trump’s move constitutes a serious disruption in world order. The decision was made contrary to the position of America’s European NATO allies Germany, France, and Britain, who are also signatories. The European partners wanted to uphold the agreement, as did the heads of U.S. military and the intelligence agencies. This is an important point to make in order to understand that, rather than having any strategic-factual basis, Trump’s action falls within the psycho-political realm of seeking to erase Obama’s legacy.

Trump’s decision runs counter to IAEA reports that have established, following hundreds of intrusive inspection visits (including inspections at undeclared sites), that Iran has complied with all clauses of the agreement. It runs counter to IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s assessment, which suggests that the Iran deal contributes to Israel’s security by removing the Iranian nuclear threat for the next 10-15 years. Eizenkot’s assessment, given in a Passover interview to Haaretz, rested on that of Israel’s Military Intelligence Branch. In the Israeli decision making system, the Military Intelligence Branch, and not the Mossad, is tasked with providing the National Estimate and with analyzing the situation. This is a point worth taking into consideration in order to separate emotional background noises (“disastrous deal, terrible one-sided agreement”) from real signals.

The arguments put forward by Trump in support of his decision to walk away for the deal were taken more from the realm of evidence fabrication than that of fact. Trump had to invent deal violations in order to “justify” the decision to pull out. The ideas and pseudo-strategic arguments behind Trump’s speech, aimed at undermining the nuclear deal, were supplied by Netanyahu. For example, Netanyahu’s speech at...

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'Police broke my knee, threatened my doctors,' Arab civil society leader tells court

Seven require medical treatment for injuries sustained during their arrests or while in custody, including Jafar Farah, who says an officer broke his knee inside the police station. Police file criminal complaint against Arab MK Ayman Odeh for calling the officers who refused to let him visit a hospitalized protester ‘losers’.

By Oren Ziv, Yael Marom, and Meron Rapoport

Israeli police arrested 21 people over the weekend at a protest in Haifa against the mass killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza days earlier. Most of the 300 protesters were Palestinian citizens of Israel, although two of those arrested were Jewish Israelis.

Several of the protesters required hospitalization due to police violence, including the head of the Arab civil rights organization Mossawa, Jafar Farah, who says an officer broke his knee while he was in custody.

Officers later intimidated doctors at the Haifa hospital where he was being treated, Farah alleged, threatening the medical staff and insisting that they release him from the hospital even though he required further treatment.

After spending 48 hours in custody due to a Jewish holiday, which meant courts were closed until Sunday evening, a Haifa Magistrates’ Court judge ordered all of the detainees released on bail early Monday morning. Police had asked to keep them in custody for an additional five days.

“My son went to the protest — I raised my children to go to protests — and when I got there to look for him I realized that the place was surrounded by riot police and that it wasn’t possible to leave,” Farah said in court. “I tried to leave but a police officer wouldn’t let me. Later, when I was already two blocks away from the protest, the same officer came up to me and arrested me.”

Later that night, when he was sitting on the floor with the other detainees inside the police station, Farah said he asked one of the officers where his son was. “One of the officers inside the Haifa police station decided to strike my leg and break my knee. He kicked me.”

Photos appear to show that Farah was not injured at the time of his arrest.

At least seven of the detainees had to be brought to the hospital for medical treatment, the police prosecutor admitted in court Sunday night.

“The doctors said that I need to stay in...

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Asylum seeker hospitalized after being stabbed by group of Israelis

B., an asylum seeker from Sudan, was reportedly stabbed by a group of Israelis just two weeks after he moved to the central city of Netanya. Days after regaining consciousness, he is still unable to speak.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

A Sudanese asylum seeker was stabbed by a group of four Israelis in the city of Netanya in central Israel on Sunday. Following the attack, the asylum seeker, B., lost consciousness and was hospitalized at Laniado Hospital. He regained consciousness on Wednesday morning, and is still unable to speak.

Jamal Ibrahim Adam, another Sudanese asylum seeker who shares an apartment with B. in central Netanya, said that B. had left to buy something at a corner store at around 8:30 p.m. Upon returning, he was attacked in the parking lot. “I was standing on the steps of our home on the ground floor. People began calling my name so I ran to the parking lot 50 meters away from our home. I saw four Israeli men, some of them wearing a kippa, running in front of me.”

“B. was on the ground,” Adam continued. “I turned him over and saw three stab wounds in his back, he was in bad shape. He managed to say ‘they stabbed me.’ His cellphone was in his hand. I lifted it to look at it, he had taken a photo of one of the stabbers.” According to Adam, the police took both him and the cellphone in for investigation, where Adam confirmed that the man in the photo was indeed present when B. was stabbed.

Adam says that passersby told him that the same group of Israelis had tried to attack an asylum seeker earlier that day, but had given up when they realized there were too many people around. He has no doubt that the attack was racially-motivated. “These are people who I saw for the first time. They came here to mess with refugees.”

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Adam says he feels unsafe in Netanya. “It is scary to walk around at night. It is less safe for us here than in Tel Aviv. It is frightening to go outside. I go straight to work and back. I never leave the house alone.”

B. and Adam moved to Netanya only two weeks ago. B. had previously lived for a year in Holot detention...

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The nightmare of proving that you live in East Jerusalem

Scenes from the overcrowded Israeli Interior Ministry office in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian residents of the city must regularly ‘prove’ they still live there or face displacement and exile.

By Amer ‘Aruri

Inside the the Wadi al-Joz Interior Ministry office in East Jerusalem, an elderly man holds a one-year old child. She is crying because of the cramming and pushing among those lined up at the ministry’s outer gate. “Where is the child’s mother?” I ask. He responds that the mother is crying too, and she can’t carry her child. “I am the child’s grandfather,” he says.

Another man tells him: “The child is going to die in your hands, poor thing. Why don’t you ask the security guard to open the door?” I take the girl from her grandfather to enable him to climb through the rotating metal door from the outside, screaming at the security guard to open the door for him. The security guard tells him to shut up and get off the door. The grandfather takes the child back, lifting her for the security guard to see how badly she is crying. People inside and outside the building start to yell, and the security guard is compelled to open the door, allowing the grandfather and his grandchild to enter.

What about the mother? The women at the “women’s line” would not allow her to cut in line, as they themselves have been standing there for a long time. So the grandfather asks the men to make room for the mother of the child. They do not hesitate, showing chivalry and compassion, and step aside to allow the sobbing mother to pass.

* * *

A young man stands next to me, repeatedly saying that he is going to the Ministry of Labor and not the Interior Ministry. He says he fears he won’t be able to make it there before 12 p.m. in order to prove that he showed up on time, which means he won’t get his unemployment benefits for the entire month. All of a sudden, the young man does something that everybody else disapproves of: the second the gate leading to the women’s line is opened, he cuts in line to enter the building. The women begin cursing at him. “You animal, you have no honor,” they yell. The poor guy tries to explain himself.

* * *

People are stuck to each other,...

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Across Israel, hundreds protest Gaza violence

From Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Umm al-Fahm, Israelis and Palestinians take to the streets to protest the killing of 60 demonstrators in Gaza a day earlier.

Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis across the country protested Tuesday against the Israeli army killing of 60 demonstrators in Gaza the day before. Some of the protests were also in commemoration of Nakba Day.

In Tel Aviv, 300 Israelis and Palestinians demonstrated outside the Likud Party headquarters in the city, holding signs and chanting slogans against the violence.

“It is unthinkable that while people are drinking champagne in Jerusalem, others are dying in Gaza,” Noga Malkin, an activist with the left-wing movement Standing Together, said to the crowd. “There is another way. We do not need to shoot at protesters, we can talk and change. Wherever there is struggle, there is hope.”

At one point the demonstrators shut down King George Street, marching down and shutting down one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares.  

“The 60 people who were killed come from a place of immense pain — pain that has no hope, no water, no work, no future, nothing,” said Yeela Raanan, an activist with Other Voice, a movement of Israelis from communities near Gaza and Palestinians from inside Gaza.

“As long as our neighbors suffer, so too will we suffer,” Raanan continued, adding that the Israeli government could end the siege if it wanted to.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Israelis held a quiet demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence and then marched to the newly-opened U.S. embassy. There, too, the protesters blocked the road.

Earlier Tuesday, dozens of Palestinians demonstrated outside Jerusalem’s Old City to mark Nakba Day, which commemorates the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages during the 1948 war and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. 

In Umm al-Fahm, hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel marched alongside Arab members of Knesset.

“There is nothing that justifies using live fire against protesters or the dozens of murders,” Joint List head Ayman Odeh told the crowd. “This was was a massacre. The government continues to shut its eyes to the pain, desperation, and poverty of Gaza’s residents.”

“We must posit a moral alternative to the government, so that we have some kind of...

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Israeli army shoots dead dozens in Gaza's bloodiest day since 2014

Israeli military kills 58 Palestinians and wounds over 2,700 others in Gaza. Palestinians and Israelis across the West Bank protest in solidarity with Gaza and against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.

By +972 Magazine Staff

At time of publication, 58 Palestinians had been killed and 2,771 wounded by Israeli military forces during demonstrations on the border with Gaza on Monday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. This was the single bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war.

The violence took place at the culmination of the “Great Return March,” a 45-day protest in which tens of thousands of Palestinians have marched toward the border fence to call for an end of the 11-year-long siege on the Strip and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and land.

Monday’s protest marked Nakba Day, which commemorates the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians during the 1948 war.  A total of 107 Palestinians, including 12 minors, have been killed by Israeli forces since the Great Return March began on March 30. An Israeli soldier was also lightly wounded on Monday, and was taken to hospital for treatment, the first Israeli casualty reported to date. (Reason for casualty unclear, although presumably from a rock.)

Following the violence, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that “the right to life must be respected. Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account. The international community needs to ensure justice for victims.” Meanwhile UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres expressed his profound alarm at the “sharp escalation of violence” and the “high number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests.”

According to Israeli authorities, the IDF used force to respond to attempts to breach the fence. It claims three of those killed on Monday were trying to plant explosives along the fence in Rafah. In addition, 35 fires erupted on the Israeli side, allegedly due to kites carrying incendiary materials from Gaza.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians protested across the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Israel in solidarity with Gaza and against the official opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, which also took place on Monday, and ahead of Nakba Day, which is on Tuesday.

WATCH: Police rough up MK Masud Ghnaim during protest in Jerusalem

In West Jerusalem, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated outside the new embassy, located in the Arnona neighborhood. According to +972’s Orly Noy, police...

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Live Blog: Israeli troops open fire on Gaza Return March

Ahead of Nakba Day, marking 70 years since the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, tens of thousands in Gaza were expected to march on the border, culminating 45 days of protests demanding the right of refugees to return, an end to Israel’s siege. Protests were also taking place in the West Bank and Jerusalem, where the United States is opening its new embassy.

[This post will be updated as events unfold. All times are local.]

9:30 p.m.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza says that that the number of Palestinians killed by Israel on the Gaza border has risen to 55.

7:10 p.m.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza says that that the number of Palestinians killed by Israel on the Gaza border has risen to 52.

5:30 p.m.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health is reporting that the number of Palestinians killed today by Israeli forces in Gaza has risen to 43.

4:40 p.m.

Israeli soldiers have killed 41 Palestinians and wounded 1,960, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

3:57 p.m.

38 Palestinian protesters shot and killed by Israeli snipers, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. 1,703 Palestinians have been wounded.

3:28 p.m.

Israeli snipers have killed 37 Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip so far on Monday and hundreds more were wounded, either from gunshot wounds or other injuries, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Israeli human rights organizations filed a legal challenge against the Israeli army policy of shooting unarmed protesters on April 15. The High Court of Justice has yet to return a decision on whether it is legal to shoot unarmed civilian protesters. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands wounded in that time.

2:54 p.m.

The death toll of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli snipers inside the Gaza Strip on Monday has risen to 25, according to the Gaza Heath Ministry. That brings the total number of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli soldiers since March 30 to 74 people. Around 500 people have been wounded by live ammunition so far on Monday.

 

 

2:15 p.m.

Israeli army snipers have killed at least 16 protesters inside the Gaza Strip so far on Monday, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. According to the Israeli army, there are 35,000 protesters at 12 different locations inside the Strip. Protests were also taking place at numerous locations in the West Bank,...

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‘We’re dying slowly in Gaza, it’s better to die along the fence trying to be free’

In the days leading up to the culmination of the Great Return March, in which organizers expect masses to breach the Gaza border fence, we speak with three Gazans about what the protests have accomplished, what hope they carry, and where they have disappointed.

By Meron Rapoport

The organizers of the Great March of Return say they expect protesters will attempt to reach or breach the border fence with Israel during protests marking the moving of the U.S. Embassy and Nakba Day on Monday. Not everyone in Gaza supports the march, especially because it has yet win any tangible gains, but everyone is appreciative that Gazans are finally are standing up for their rights.

Since the first protests, which began March 30, Land Day, with tens of thousands of protesters, the number of participants in the weekly Great Return March has gradually decreased. The number of Palestinians killed by the IDF during the Return March protests was 49 at the time of writing.

In the days leading up to the Great Return March’s culmination this week, I spoke with three Gazans to hear what people think of the protests, if they achieved their goals, and what mistakes were made. I spoke with Hassan al-Kurd, one of the Great Return March organizers; Omer Shaaban, associate director of PalThink, a think tank; and Mohammed Arafat, an independent journalist.

Hassan al-Kurd, how do you feel right now?

For us, everything continues as normal. Though the protest has been a bit weaker in the last couple of weeks, everything is going to change soon. On Monday, we will attempt to cross the fence. It’s important for us to note that we are still planning to do this in a nonviolent way — women, children, and the elderly, entire families are going to try to cross.

What about the earlier attempts to cross the fence?

Until now, there have been a few attempts to cross the fence, mainly by young men between the ages of 15-25, of their own initiative. In preparation for the protest, there’s talk of the youth tying each other together, one to the other, and trying to cross together.

Israeli snipers have shot protesters even when they weren’t trying to cross the fence. You don’t worry that there will be an escalation in violence by the Israelis?

What difference does it make? We’re dying slowly in Gaza anyway....

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