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You're far more likely to be killed protesting in Gaza than firing a rocket

Not a single rocket has been fired into Israel from Gaza in over two months, yet since March 30 Israel has killed more Palestinians in Gaza than it did in the previous 16 months, during which time militants launched over 60 rockets and mortars.

Palestinian medics evacuate a protester injured during the Great Return March in Gaza. April 20, 2018. (Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.)

Israeli snipers killed at least three Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds more at the fifth week of Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip on Friday. (File photo by Mohammed Zaanoun / Activestills.)

The Israeli army’s response to unarmed protests in the Gaza Strip over the last few weeks has been vastly deadlier than its response to rockets fired from the besieged territory over the past year and a half.

Israeli military forces have killed more unarmed Palestinians participating in the Great Return March protests in Gaza since March 30, during which time no rockets or mortars were fired into Israel, than it did in the preceding 16 months during which time Palestinian groups fired dozens of projectiles into Israel.

In fact, not a single rocket has been fired into Israel from Gaza since February 18, according to the IDF Spokesperson.

At least 40 unarmed Palestinians — including two journalists — have been shot and killed by Israeli sharpshooters and snipers in the vicinity of the Gaza border fence since March 30. At least 1,500 others were wounded by sniper gunfire, according to the United Nations data from earlier this week.

From November 2016 through February 2018, according to B’Tselem data, the Israeli military killed 28 Palestinians, only 36 percent of whom were participating in hostilities.

(Data taken from the Shin Bet and B'Tselem.)

(Data taken from the Shin Bet and B’Tselem.)

In fact, 57 percent of the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in that 16-month period were unarmed and were shot in the vicinity of the border fence, either while participating in protests or trying to cross into Israel to find work, according to B’Tselem’s research. Another 7 percent were killed by Israeli naval forces while at sea.

There does not appear to be any correlation between periods when greater or fewer rockets and mortars were fired by Palestinian groups into Israel and the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Furthermore, only two of the Palestinian casualties, or 7 percent of all of the Palestinians killed between November 2016 and February 2018, were targeted in retaliation for firing rockets or mortars into Israel.

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

Israeli soldiers are seen aiming their weapons into Gaza toward protesters during the first day of the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

If we include the data of protesters killed during the Great Return March and a farmer killed near the border fence in early March 2018, it becomes even clearer that it is far deadlier to be an unarmed civilian in the vicinity of the Gaza border fence than an armed militant firing rockets and mortars into Israeli territory.

Including those killed during the Great Return March, 82 percent of the Palestinians killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip over the past year and a half were noncombatants participating in unarmed protests, farming their land, or attempting to cross the border to find work. Only 15 percent were participating in hostilities, of whom only two percent can be tied to rocket or mortar fire.

No Israeli civilians or security forces have been wounded or killed as a result of the Great Return March protests, including as a result of the one or two attempts by militant groups to exploit them as cover for armed attacks.

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It’s hard to say what the conclusion is from the data beyond the obvious — that in the past year and a half it has been a far deadlier endeavor to protest Israel’s siege without resorting to armed violence than it is using rockets.

Another conclusion might be that Israeli decision-makers, whether in the political or military echelon, see no negative consequences for shooting unarmed protesters that might deter them from continuing to deploy snipers along the borders week after week. Engaging Gaza’s militant groups with deadly force in response to rocket fire, on the other hand, runs the risk of escalating into full-fledged armed conflict that would bring with it far greater consequences for Israel militarily, diplomatically, and geopolitically.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Tommy Goldberg

      Makes sense. Peaceful protests pose a MUCH greater threat to the Israeli right’s priorities between river and sea than crude rockets ever could.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      @Ido: The question is why the rest of the world should believe that Israel is defending itself against the Palestinians or whether it’s the reverse.

      I vote for: reverse. Gaza is a giant open air prison, adequate medicine and food are not let in, electricity and water are scarce, and Israel controls all of it; request for travel abroad for education and medical treatment are routinely denied. What’s your vision of the end game, Ido?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      We’re talking Gaza, this is relevant: it’s an interview with some Israeli activists about the situation, “The Killing Fields of Gaza”:

      https://theintercept.com/2018/04/27/deconstructed-podcast-israeli-activists-speak-out-against-the-occupation-of-gaza/

      …the Israelis decide who can go in and out of the Gaza Strip and what can go in and out of the Gaza Strip. At one stage, they bombed that well-known bomb-making ingredient cilantro. Yeah, cilantro. Why cilantro? They banned cilantro from going into the Strip, which is why even pro-Israeli, Western leaders such as the former Conservative prime minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, have said:

      Prime Minister David Cameron: Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      To those who pretend to be mystified–or are mystified, I am not sure which I’d rather own up to if I were them because neither possibility reflects well on them–the Israelis have always violently shut down peaceful non-violent protest just as categorically and forcefully as violent protest. If not more so. This point is perfectly clearly made my Michael Omer-Man.

      As Noam Sheizaf says, if I were Palestinian I might come to a disturbing conclusion:

      Why do we only listen to violence?
      Two intifadas increased Israeli willingness to make territorial withdrawals. Wars in Lebanon and Egypt led Israel to withdrawals from those territories. Despite all that, the Palestinian Authority is trying to maintain quiet and security for Israelis but receives nothing in return. If I were Palestinian I might come to a disturbing conclusion.
      https://972mag.com/why-do-we-only-listen-to-violence/117773/

      Reply to Comment
    5. john

      ido, none of your links provide evidence anybody’s being paid to be ‘riot’.

      Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “the price list”

          What a low level propaganda sheet the JPost is. And allied disinformation troll we have here.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Reality is now ‘low level propaganda’ ? how detached from reality do you have to be for this ? So Arab News is also ‘israeli disinformation’ ?

            http://www.arabnews.com/node/1279766/middle-east

            This is a fact: Hamas has a price list for victims. Are you a child ? you think saying ‘no it isn’t!’ will somehow make this go away ?

            I’m honestly curious, how do you keep this state of denial ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh blah blah blah, more of the same. “Price list” is a very typical IdoGellerian distortion. You live inside the smuggest cocoon of denial. The contempt you radiate for Israel’s victims is very ugly. You are absolutely nothing more than a propaganda dispenser. As mechanical as it comes. Really you incessantly bring this site down to a risible JPost talkback level. You must be a transplanted American. Who thinks he has racial manifest destiny rights to kick indigenous people off their land. But hides behind fake protestations that he really really wants a two state solution so bad. Just like Ben Caspit was really really saying in his heart of hearts that aaalll he really really wanted was for Ahed Tamimi to be arrested. Suuuure. Bye bye.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Um, I just proved, again, that you were wrong and it wasn’t a “low level propaganda and disinformation”. With cited proof. You were wrong, at least accept it with some dignity and not like a child.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The problem you have is that we know you. We are well acquainted by now with your intractable delusions of “proof.” A word you use far too often. And we are well acquainted by now with you intractable habit of twisting and distorting. You have a record. You’re not the first rote propagandist to come along and you won’t be the last.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            This is truly fascinating. So the cited proof I provided 4 posts up, proving without a single doubt that I was correct and you were wrong, from Arab News no less, can’t penetrate the shield of denial you are in ? how do you rationalize this to yourself ? the proof is right there. you’re having a minor stroke each time you scroll by it, making it evaporate from your memory ? I’m truly interested.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Stop wasting our time. If you can’t see that “price list” is your distortion and ripping from context then we can’t help you. It is not our job to provide your education. Truly interested? You’re not curious about anything. This is the statement (you made elsewhere) that is the statement of a totally non-curious individual who smugly knows what he knows and knows nothing else and does not want to know anything else (and is too cheap to pay for basic knowledge about his own country from its only serious mainstream newspaper but he already knows what it contains because he knows what he knows):

            “You should educate yourself that posting articles of premium content behind a paywall is not going to make me pay for their content even though I enjoy opinion fantasy fiction pieces with tenuous relation to reality.”

            I regard you as fundamentally uneducated and ignorant. But hey, those are my standards. You’re free not to live up to them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Cited proof, more than one, for a fact I pointed out how Hamas has a price list for their cannon fodder is now “distortion and ripping from context” ? so the price list for the wounded rioters is not a price list for the wounded rioters ? you fail to see how this is incentive ? and what is the Palestinian “Martyr Fund” A.K.A Pay for Jew Slay ? “disinformation” ? you need to seek professional help regarding your inability to accept reality.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            With you it’s hard to know if you are really this obtuse or if you just pretend to be. Either possibility does not reflect well on you, But as I said, you are free to not live up to our standards. And we are free to uphold them. Bye bye.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Hard not to notice how you didn’t explain how cited proof, more than one, for a fact I pointed out how Hamas has a price list for their cannon fodder is now “distortion and ripping from context”. Why is this hard for you to clarify ? so the price list for the wounded rioters is not a price list for the wounded rioters ? I hope the cognitive dissonance isn’t too uncomfortable, knowing that I’m right again but still clinging to your delusional ignorance.

            Reply to Comment
      • john

        those payments aren’t bringing people to the ‘riots’, they are paid after israeli soldiers maim and kill protesters

        Reply to Comment
        • Ido

          Of course they are, you honestly think they are not an incentive for the violent riots at the border ? wounded are a propaganda tool for Hamas and that’s what they are paying for.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ido

          So you are not aware what is going on near the border ? haven’t seen the videos from yesterday ? calling it ‘riots’ is an understatement. I would say it’s more an attempt of armed terrorists to cross the border into Israel. To hand flowers to the Israelis no doubt, and the knives were to help the Israelis peel oranges.
          Hamas are desperate for a “winning” photo of Palestinians crossing the border into Israel, and judging by what they carried, with dead Jews around them.

          Reply to Comment
        • john

          israel could stop that propaganda coup by not shooting at protesters.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Protesters should not riot at the border and try to cross it into Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • john

            palestinians are to blame for their actions and israeli reactions. got it. i won’t address you anymore than to correct your fictions. you are a troll

            Reply to Comment
          • Ido

            Why do you treat the Palestinians like children with no responsibility for their own actions ? why the Palestinians who didn’t riot at the Gaza border were never hurt ? pure coincidence ? go watch the videos from last Thursday, that’s an interesting interpretation of “peaceful protesters”. Maybe they just wanted to show the Israelis their new weapons.
            How can you fail to grasp that what is happening in Gaza is the result of the Palestinians own actions ? do you also in denial about the Hamas-Fatah inner conflict which is a major cause ?

            Reply to Comment
    6. Bruce Gould

      Who controls the electricity situation in Gaza? The Washington Post wrote a piece on this. The PA-Hamas split doesn’t help things, but basically everything is controlled by Israel and, to a lesser extent, Egypt.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/02/05/who-is-responsible-for-solving-gazas-massive-electricity-crisis/?utm_term=.e892e2ef1a81

      Some might think Gazans should pay for their own electricity consumption, like everyone else. Of course this would, eventually, make the most sense. But since Hamas took control of the coastal strip in 2007 and Israel initiated a blockade, an ethical dilemma has emerged. As the elected ruling party, Hamas would appear to be responsible for facilitating access to basic goods. But Gaza’s inability to trade with its neighbors and, relatedly, its anemic economy, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, have resulted in a virtually nonexistent tax base.

      Gazans are also aware that most of their power supply comes from Israel, and therefore most of their payments end up in Israeli coffers or in PA-controlled banks, not in the hands of any government that can serve them.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ido

        Your own link states that Electricity from Israel and Egypt is paid for by the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority. They are the ones responsible by preventing payments to Gaza as part of their inner conflict with Hamas. Thank you for validating my post in the Facebook comments above.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Knowing that it is better not to provoke the Israeli army. If you do that means that you are are really stupid.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        They said that about the German Army once upon a time. They say it today about any number of brutal states’ armies. You approve and get pleasure from that. Duly noted. We can see with whom we are really dealing.

        Reply to Comment
    8. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      An investigation has shown that Hamas is sending women and children to the IDF to create a diversion. Behind the smoke of burnt tires, meanwhile armed men are trying to damage the fence and enter Israel. (videos prove it).
      In a Swiss television report broadcast Sunday night, Arabs in Gaza say their goal is to enter Israel, take possession of the land and liberate Jerusalem. To say that it is only peaceful protest is ridiculous. Only leftists and Jewish traitors can be (willingly) abused

      Reply to Comment
    9. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Even Abbas has asked the Hamas not to send children provoke the Israeli army.

      Reply to Comment
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