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Israeli army opens fire on Gaza protesters sixth week in a row

Dozens of Palestinians evacuated to Gaza hospitals after Israeli snipers open fire on the Great Return March for the sixth week in a row. 

By +972 Magazine Staff

Smoke billows from the Gaza side of the Gaza-Israel border during the Great Return March demonstrations, May 4, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Smoke billows from the Gaza side of the Gaza-Israel border during the Great Return March demonstrations, May 4, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian protesters Friday for the sixth consecutive week on the border with Gaza. Part of the 45-day Great Return March, which began on March 30, the demonstrations are set to culminate on May 15, Nakba Day.

Over 7,000 Palestinians took part in Friday’s demonstrations in five different locations along the Gaza-Israel border. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, over 43 protesters were wounded, including three critically, in the clashes with Israeli forces. A total of 45 Palestinians have been killed on the border since the march began.

Not far from the border, members of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, including members of Knesset from the Joint List, Ahmad Tibi, Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, held a small demonstration outside Kibbutz Yad Mordechai to condemn the violence against unarmed demonstrators. “We are here to demonstrate against snipers, who are targeting civilians in Gaza, who are demanding freedom, liberty, breaking the siege, and return,” Tibi told +972.

Meanwhile, supporters of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party demonstrated on the Israeli side of the border, unfurling a giant Arabic banner that read: “Only Liberman understands Arabic — don’t mess with him.”

Supporters of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hold up a giant banner reading: 'Only Liberman understands Arabic — don't mess with him' near the Israel-Gaza border, May 4, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Supporters of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hold up a giant banner reading: ‘Only Liberman understands Arabic — don’t mess with him’ near the Israel-Gaza border, May 4, 2018. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Since the Great Return March began in late March, Israeli sharpshooters and snipers have shot over 5,000 unarmed Palestinian protesters, according to the United Nations.

Following protesters during the first week of April, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, warned that “violence against civilians — in a situation such as one prevailing in Gaza” could constitute war crimes.

Palestinian medics carry a demonstrator on a stretcher during the Great March of Return protests, May 4, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian medics carry a demonstrator on a stretcher during the Great March of Return protests, Gaza Strip, May 4, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has urged Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire on the protesters. Four prominent Israeli human rights groups petitioned the High Court of Justice last Sunday demanding that the court order the state to revoke the rules of engagement that permit shooting demonstrators who pose no danger to human life.

Responding to the petition, the state has argued that the demonstrations fall into the category of a “state of war,” and therefore human rights law does not apply to the rules of engagement.

A Palestinian demonstrator is wounded in his shoulder during the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel border, May 4, 2018. (Palestinian medics carry a demonstrator on a stretcher during the Great March of Return protests, May 4, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian demonstrator is wounded in his shoulder during the Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel border, May 4, 2018. (Palestinian medics carry a demonstrator on a stretcher during the Great March of Return protests, May 4, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills.org)

During protests earlier in April, Israeli forces shot at least six journalists in one day. Among them was Yasser Murtaja, a photographer for “Ain Media,” who was reportedly wearing a helmet and vest clearly marked “PRESS” when he was shot; he later died of his wounds.

Inside the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian protesters have built a tent encampment with different tents corresponding to the villages and towns that were destroyed during the Nakba (in Arabic, the Catastrophe), in 1948. More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes during the 1948 war and its aftermath. Israel subsequently destroyed nearly all of their homes and villages.

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Speaking to +972 Magazine before the first day of protest last month, one of the ‘Great Return March’ organizers, Hasan al-Kurd, explained that the plan was to set up camps between between 700-1000 meters from Israel’s border fence, outside the Israeli army’s unilaterally imposed buffer zone. In the weeks leading up to Nakba Day, there would be weekly marches as well as bicycle races and other events.

By mid-May, the Return March organizers hope that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will join.

Palestinian children dressed in the colors of the Palestinian flag, at the protest encampment in Gaza east of Shujaiya. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

Palestinian children dressed in the colors of the Palestinian flag, at the protest encampment in Gaza east of Shujaiya. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.org)

“We want families. We want to live in peace — with the Israelis,” al-Kurd said. “We will make sure the protest doesn’t escalate to violence — at least from our end.”

Even before the march began, however, Israeli security forces launched a public campaign painting the ‘Great Return March’ as a violent, Hamas-sponsored event. The Israeli army’s chief of staff announced the deployment of 100 snipers and several infantry brigades to the area of the Gaza border fence. Israeli generals warned that there would be casualties.

On Land Day and Nakba in 2011, the last time a protest march of a similar scale was attempted, thousands of Palestinians from Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel marched on Israel’s borders. The army responded with gunfire on the Lebanese, Syrian, and Gaza borders, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      This is good news.
      The army must prevent the invasion of our country by Islamic barbarians

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      What Uri Avnery, former Knesset member, has to say about Gaza::

      http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1523632747

      Like the British in India and the white racists in the US, the Israeli government does not know how to deal with unarmed protest. It has never encountered it. It does not exist in Arab tradition….By chance this week I saw the classic movie about Mahatma Gandhi. The British tried everything – they beat him and myriads of others into pulp, they shot thousands of others. When Gandhi and his followers suffered this torment and did not hit back, the British eventually admitted defeat and went away….So did the white racist opponents of Martin Luther King in Alabama. A Palestinian follower of his came to this country at the beginning of the occupation and tried to convince his countrymen to try this method. The Israel army opened fire, and the Palestinians reverted to the armed struggle.

      Not this time.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      There were infiltration attempts in Israel, fields were burned by incendiary kites, the barrier forming the border was sabotaged. Until when will the State of Israel be patient?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “incendiary kites”

        LoL. Oh my, the fearsome “incendiary kite!” Oh no! Not that! Anything but that! Whatever will be do??!! All we have is F16 fighter jets and tanks!!! Poor little Israel!!! Plucky little underdog hanging on by its fingernails!!! The end is nigh!!!

        On “incendiary kites,” tweeted by Joshua Leifer:

        —————————————-
        Ahead of tomorrow’s Gaza return march protests, Israel media is reporting that the IDF is preparing to shoot down “Molotov kites” with drones.

        @news10
        בעזרת רחפנים: בצה”ל מתכננים להפיל את עפיפוני התבערה בשטח עזה • @bokeralmog עם הידיעה המלאה >> https://www.10.tv/news/162306

        Besieged by land and sea, under constant surveillance and threat of bombardment by air, Gaza’s inhabitants are attaching Molotov cocktails to kites, hoping the wind will carry them over the fence into Israel.

        If this doesn’t capture the total desperation, I don’t know what does.”
        —————————————-

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “Until when will the State of Israel be patient?”

        You just gotta love that “patient.” All the occupying overlord’s condescension and contempt and ease is contained in that word. And the irony! Because Israel’s whole strategy of “managing the conflict” aka the occupation is to say “We have time, we can be patient, the Palestinians must be patient….”

        Reply to Comment
    4. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      The “peaceful” Arab protesters in Gaza who are cherished by our leftists have launched balloons carrying fire bombs. The fire burned entire fields in Israel.
      I hope our farmers will be compensated for the taxes that the state of Israel receives for PLO terrorists.
      I am pleased to learn that a bill in the Knesset plans to reduce the amount paid to the PLO that this organization pays to the families of its terrorists who murdered Jews.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        And for how many olive groves burned by settlers, while IDF stood idly by, have the Palestinians been compensated? For how many stolen dunams have they been compensated? For how many stolen or poisoned water wells have they been compensated? For how many years disappeared into indefinite detention without trial as political prisoners have they been compensated?

        The EU and the USA massively subsidize your occupation, Halevy. Please advise the Knesset that it should reduce shekel for shekel the amount paid directly or indirectly to Israel by the EU for every subsidy Israel pays to its marauding settler terrorists.

        Israel Is the Terrorist
        Ilana Hammerman Apr 05, 2018
        “About a week ago, on the highway between Hermesh and Mevo Dotan, two soldiers were killed and two were injured by a car that was driven by a resident of Barta’a. There are not many Israelis who know where these settlements are located and in what kind of reality they exist. But the vast majority probably have no doubt who was the terrorist here, and who, the innocent victim…. The problem is that terror has long since become the reality, and the entity that has allowed and is allowing this to happen is the State of Israel. Look at the map and find Barta’a, and maybe you’d even be interested in going there and seeing and hearing how its residents live and what their surroundings are like. I happened to do so a few days before the car-ramming incident, and it was completely clear to me – and not for the first time – that this reality is a product of the ongoing policy of terror pursued by generations of Israeli governments, and that it is this policy that gives rise to the acts of resistance against it. What’s amazing is only that there aren’t more such acts, because it’s really and truly an intolerable situation….”
        https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-is-the-terrorist-1.5976966

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          So you admit that the Arab “poor pacifists” are throwing incendiary devices to burn the fields of innocent Israeli farmers?

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Halevy here, in addition to implicitly admitting that the settlers are terrorists, dishes out the signature conceit, the signature self-deception of Israeli society:

            “Israel has fabricated complex social, legal, and social structures over the years in an attempt to foster our cooperation with the injustices of the occupation and to preempt any critical thoughts we might have about it. From having our kindergartners prepare care packages for soldiers to mandatory conscription a few years later to the constant refrain that every soldier is “our” son, Israel has quite deliberately done away with the space in which an effective civil society can and must operate. … We Israelis were and remain a part of that system. We must all come to terms with that truth. As unpleasant as that may be, it is a moral obligation for each and every one of us, Jewish citizens of Israel. … the occupation is a part of us and who we and our society are and have become. That we have succeeded in creating a conscious separation between our lives and the occupation is our tragedy. The boycott movement is simply trying to stop the rest of the world from making the same mistake.
            https://972mag.com/why-israels-eurovision-contestant-became-a-target-for-bds/135197/

            Now, the thing is, you strenuously object to the fearsome “molotov kite,” but at the same time you strenuously object to nonviolent economic boycott. Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. And as Noam Sheizaf has convincingly argued, you only listen to violence anyway. So what is your point?

            Reply to Comment