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The Gaza protests are challenging every facet of Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinian people

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“We have reached a level of insanity and delusion”, said Israeli Minister of Hasbara Gilad Erdan to Israeli radio. For once in my life, I agree with this propagandist 100%. But Erdan’s statement was of course meant cynically – he meant that there was no reason to criticize the snipers who were filming themselves shooting an unarmed and motionless Palestinian from long distance across the Gaza fence – and celebrating afterwards. By Erdan, this is a completely natural response, because the soldiers are “under stress” and thus should not be judged “from the armchairs in Tel Aviv”. To judge them would be “insane and delusional”.

This sentiment seemed to be shared by Minister of Defense Lieberman, who even appeared to be celebrating the shooting himself. He was once again offering medals to the snipers, while condemning whoever filmed it: “The Gaza sniper deserves a decoration, and the photographer a demerit.”

So by Lieberman, the act of shooting itself was not only appropriate, but even heroic, and yet filming it and allowing the world to see what is being done is the cardinal sin.

Indeed, this is the logic that the Israeli army is running with.

A preliminary army inquiry after the video went viral concluded that the soldiers acted “appropriately”, but that “the exuberant soldiers heard in the video acted improperly and will face disciplinary proceedings” (as reported by Haaretz).

According to the army, the video is from December 22nd, when there were widespread protests against Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That day, Israeli troops shot dead at least two Palestinians and wounded about 60 with live fire (Reuters).

The Israeli army admission that the video is authentic, and that the soldiers acted “appropriately”, shows beyond doubt that this policy of shooting unarmed protesters has existed long before the current wave of protests under the Great March of Return.

But how long?

The Israeli whistleblower organization Breaking the Silence seem to indicate that this is essentially not new, even if the explicit policy may be new:

“Whether this video was filmed a month or a week ago, as those who served in the occupied territories, we know – over 50 years of occupation have resulted in moral corruption to the degree to which unarmed innocent demonstrators are now being killed. What we are witnessing on the border with Gaza is no different than what we did within Gaza as Israeli soldiers. This complete disregard for the lives of the innocent is indicative of the fact that it is impossible to control millions of people against their will without morally degenerating. Responsibility for this lies first and foremost in the hands of our government, which continues to send the IDF to perpetuate the regime of occupation”.

So Breaking the Silence is telling us that essentially, what causes all this horror, what brings this policy as a ‘natural outcome’ is the occupation of 1967.

But actually, the saga of such policies is much older.

Israeli historian Benny Morris has written extensively about Israel’s policy of shooting unarmed Palestinian refugees (which were considered ‘infiltrators’, just like African refugees today), documented in his book Israel’s Border Wars 1949-56. Here is a partial summation by Avi Shlaim:

“The evidence gleaned by Morris from the various sources he consulted, suggests that infiltration into Israel was a direct consequence of the displacement and dispossession of over 700,000 Palestinians in the course of the Palestine War and that the motives behind it were largely economic and social rather than political. Many of the infiltrators were Palestinian refugees whose reasons for crossing the border included looking for relatives, returning to their homes, recovering possessions, tending to their fields, collecting their crops and, occasionally, exacting revenge. Some of the infiltrators were thieves and smugglers; some were involved in the hashish convoys; while others were nomadic Bedouins, more accustomed to grazing rights than to state borders. There were terroristic and politically-motivated raids, such as those organised by the ex-Mufti, Hajj Amin al Husayni, and financed by Saudi Arabia, but they did not amount to very much. In the period 1949-1956 as a whole, 90 per cent or more of all infiltrations, in Morris’s estimate, were motivated by economic and social concerns” [….] “Altogether between 2,700 and 5,000 infiltrators were killed in the period 1949-1956, the great majority of whom were unarmed.”

So this is way before the 1967 occupation. And it was a “direct consequence” of what is widely understood today as a massive ethnic cleansing – the Nakba events of 1948 and the years that followed.

The timing of the Great March of Return conveys very crucial messages. We are approaching the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, directly related to Israel’s establishment. The March will end on the Nakba Day as its culmination. President Trump has made moves to take the most central issues of Palestinian statehood off the table – by diplomatic force – through the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moving of embassy to there. That move is indirectly saying to the Palestinians ‘drop dead’, as Jerusalem is one of the central ‘final status’ issues relating to Palestinian statehood. And if Jerusalem is being taken ‘off the table’, you can bet that the refugee issue is being taken ‘off the table’ as well. The Trump administration is also using the refugee issue as leverage in its attempt to force Palestinians into acquiescence with this end-game which Trump calls the ‘ultimate deal’ – as we have seen recently with the US freezing of funds to the UN refugee agency UNRWA.

Seventy percent of Gazans are refugees. Through this protest they are desperately trying to put this issue back on the table, against this massive assault and denial of their rights.

But the march also points to an even larger story of Palestinian dispossession – Israeli Apartheid within Israel’s 1949 ceasefire lines, known generally as the ‘pre-1967 borders’, (although Israel has not delineated these borders), this is what is often referred to as ‘Israel proper’. Because the Great March of Return started on Friday, March 30th – which was the 42nd anniversary of Land Day. Land Day was a protest of Palestinians (citizens of the state, as well as occupied and refugees) against a massive Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land for state usage, under the notion of the “Judaisation of the Galillee”. In these protests, 6 Palestinians died, and about 100 were injured.

The March of Return is demonstrating that this is all connected. That the dispossession of Palestinians is an ongoing saga, that the Nakba is ongoing, that it affects all Palestinians, and that when Palestinians seek to make the world remember them, they are mowed down, and Israelis laugh and celebrate.

But for Israeli leaders like propaganda minister Erdan , it’s “insane and delusional” not only to protest this policy, but even to criticize soldiers for celebrating their hunting down of Palestinians like in a safari, but actually more like in a zoo, behind a fence, as if they were animals.

Palestinian lives are basically confirmed to be worth absolutely zero for Israel, and that apparently needs to be celebrated. And it will be celebrated on a grand scale this year, as Israel celebrates its 70th year, having brought Palestine to near total erasure, and exposed itself as the monster that it was destined to be.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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12 Responses

  1. John O
    John O
    April 11, 2018, 1:49 pm

    Anecdotal, I know, but … On Facebook, I try to steer clear of politics, except for Brexit – and then I restrict my comments largely to discussions within the appropriate forums. But it’s been noticeable in the last few weeks that more and more of my friends are sticking their heads above the parapet and posting condemnations of Israel and support for the Palestinians. And, yes, quite a few of them are Jewish.

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr
      April 11, 2018, 3:59 pm

      @j
      quite a few.

      • JosephA
        JosephA
        April 12, 2018, 1:12 am

        It’s great to know that self-loving Jews can speak out against a self-hating zionism. We can all recognize that zionism is very anti-Jewish by its very nature; it causes people around the world to feel negatively towards those who purport to be Jews, but are actually just rabid, racist nationalists.

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    April 11, 2018, 2:46 pm

    Good to have history. One may wish to believe that Israeli murders of innocents (or of unarmed people at all events — maybe cross-border returnees are not “innocent” in Israeli eyes) goes back to 1948. I know I wish to believe it. It makes all the rest so much more simple. 1967 was a stage in Nakba, not the beginning but merely a stage. 1948 was the beginning and there has been no end. Gaza-2018 is merely the latest episode.

    State terrorism (by murder in some cases) is Israeli doctrine of long standing. They see no evil in it, or they approve of evil.

  3. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    April 12, 2018, 12:29 am

    RE: “Palestinian lives are basically confirmed to be worth absolutely zero for Israel, and that apparently needs to be celebrated. And it will be celebrated on a grand scale this year, as Israel celebrates its 70th year, having brought Palestine to near total erasure, and exposed itself as the monster that it was destined to be.” ~ Ofir

    PUT ANOTHER WAY: Palestinian lives are basically fodder for Israel’s narcissistic rage, and that apparently needs to be celebrated (since the alternative would be Israel’s opting for its Samson Option). And it will be celebrated on a grand scale this year, as Israel celebrates its 70th year, having brought Palestine to near total erasure, and exposed itself as the raging narcissistic monster* that it was destined to be.

    * SEE:
    ■ ISRAEL AS YOUR CLASSIC NARCISSIST HAVING RECURRENT FITS OF ‘NARCISSISTIC RAGE’ – http://mondoweiss.net/2018/04/grassroots-pressure-impunity/#comment-912052

  4. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    April 12, 2018, 12:42 am

    RE: The Israeli army admission that the video is authentic, and that the soldiers acted “appropriately”, shows beyond doubt that this policy of shooting unarmed protesters has existed long before the current wave of protests under the Great March of Return. But how long? ~ Ofir

    MY GUESS: Since Time Immemorial?

    SEE: “The Dogs of War: The Next Intifada”, By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 9/03/11

    (EXCERPT) . . . The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.

    This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground.

    All in all, during the second intifada 4546 Palestinians were killed, of whom 882 were children, as against 1044 Israelis, 716 of them civilians, including 124 children…

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/02/the-next-intifada/

  5. Mayhem
    Mayhem
    April 12, 2018, 8:46 am

    They’re even complaining that Israel has stopped allowing the import of tires into Gaza!

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 12, 2018, 9:56 am

      || Mayhem: They’re even complaining that Israel has stopped allowing the import of tires into Gaza! ||

      They must be mistaken. Zionists insist that Gaza is not under occupation so surely there are plenty of truck/plane/boatloads of tires arriving in Gaza every day.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      April 12, 2018, 4:37 pm

      Mayhem, you are one sick puppy.

      Meanwhile, the entity known as “Israel’ rots within while people around the world, increasingly aware of its truly monstrous crimes against Palestinians, shake their heads in shock and disgust. Zionism is in free fall. It’s only a matter of time!!

      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-gaza-killings-don-t-believe-a-word-israel-says-1.5990064

      “Gaza Killings? Don’t Believe a Word Israel Says”

      “Let’s face it. If being a ‘central inciter’ is grounds for capital punishment, Netanyahu and his cabinet would have to hold their weekly meetings on Death Row”
      By Bradley Burston. April 10, 2018, Haaretz.

      “People who hate Israel will tell you that all you need to know about the country is embodied in a newly viral video clip. The clip shows an IDF sniper taking aim at and shooting a Palestinian – apparently unarmed, standing stock-still on the Gaza side of the border fence – to the raucous congratulations of the marksman’s comrades.”

  6. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    April 12, 2018, 12:01 pm

    The people of Gaza are decent. They tried the peace process. For 20 years. They have been bombed relentlessly. And Israel says this is the only option. The people of Gaza are creative. Israel is not.
    The people of Gaza have nothing to lose.
    Israel can’t win.
    What makes it really interesting is what Israeli brutality means for perceptions of Judaism. There is no such thing as a free bombing .

  7. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    April 14, 2018, 12:44 pm

    I remember reading somewhere about a case during the Holocaust when a German soldier on the eastern front took photos of shootings of Jews and showed them to his friends and relatives at home while on leave, disturbing some of them. He was arrested and sentenced to a prison term for the unauthorized photography. Not an exact parallel, of course, but the same logic.

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