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Emergency statement: Gaza protests and Israel’s military response

Israel/Palestine

The Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP HAC) issues this statement out of grave concern about the Israeli Military’s use of excessive force, including live ammunition and tear gas against protesters in Gaza. For the past four Fridays, demonstrators within Gaza were met by the Israeli military firing live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, and teargas across the border fence. The disproportional response of the Israeli military to a mostly unarmed civilian demonstration reflects a disregard for the basic human rights of Palestinians and for the safety and health of the people of the besieged Gaza Strip, where dire humanitarian conditions exist. This military response violates international law. Of further concern is the obstruction by the Israeli and the United States governments to the United Nations’ issuing a statement condemning these actions.

According to the New York Times, the Israeli military response to these protests has resulted in 37 deaths (4 people under the age of 18) and over 3000 wounded.

Over 1000 of the wounded were hit by live ammunition, 300 by rubber-coated bullets, and 1000 by large doses of tear gas. Among those targeted were journalists (wearing identifying vests)—1 was killed and at least 6 have been wounded, and medics. Those with lethal wounds were shot in the chest, the back, and abdomen. Many also had been shot in the legs, pelvis, and hands.  There have been no Israeli injuries.

The Israeli military response violates international law, which requires that lethal force only be used when there is the threat of bodily harm. Given the well-fortified barrier fence, electronic surveillance, and inhospitable terrain, there is no justification for this response.  Israeli snipers inflicting life-threatening wounds from considerable distance from the fence constitute violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Eric Goldstein, Deputy Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch stated, “Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations.”  The Israeli military tweeted that, “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

We speak out as health workers concerned about this ongoing impunity of the Israeli military to use lethal and harmful force on those demonstrating for an end to the brutal occupation and conditions they endure. The context for the weekly protests by the Palestinians is the political reality under which the population lives and suffers— an intransigent and harsh military occupation and siege. In Gaza, over half the population consists of refugees and their descendants forced from their lands when the State of Israel was founded. The Great March of Return, as this protest is called, represents the Palestinian yearning to exercise the right of all refugees to return to their homes—a right guaranteed by international law. The Gaza protests are also demanding an end to Israeli occupation and a lifting of the siege that has devastated the Gaza infrastructure and caused severe shortages and hardships on the 2 million inhabitants of that tiny area of land.

Those wounded in the protests face a health care system that lacks adequate medications and supplies. Electricity restrictions require the use of backup generators to maintain critical services. Patients with wounds beyond the capacity of the Gaza medical system are being denied exit visas to receive care in Israel or on the West Bank.  As in past assaults on Gaza where medical facilities and personnel have been targeted, on Friday April 13 an emergency medical clinic near the encampment in Khan Yunis was hit by teargas, causing severe illness symptoms in some of the personnel. Physicians for Human Rights Israel stated “The Palestinian health care system (is) ‘one of the major victims’ of Israel’s blockade.”

The JVP HAC calls for the following:

  1. A full and impartial investigation of the Israeli military’s actions since March 30 in response to the Gaza protests. The investigation must be conducted by an international human rights body such as the United Nations. The investigation should look at not just the actions of the soldiers at the Gaza border, but the orders from commanding military and government officials.
  2. An end to the siege on Gaza. This is creating a humanitarian crisis as restrictions are imposed on: basic human services and goods including health supplies and services, food, and the economic infrastructure, leading to massive unemployment, poverty and aid dependence, and the obstruction of the right to movement, thus restricting and delaying transfer of patients for essential medical care outside of Gaza.
  3. Lethal force must always be a last resort and used ONLY when there is a threat to bodily harm. International law stipulates the conditions under which lethal force can be used. Such conditions are clearly not present and Israeli military preemptive planning including the positioning of “military sharpshooters” at the border fence is a clear violation of international human rights standards.
About Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council

The Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC) is a network of JVP members who work in health, including physicians, nurses, mental health workers, social workers, public health workers, allied health professionals, complementary health practitioners, as well as others interested in human health.

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8 Responses

  1. Tuyzentfloot
    Tuyzentfloot
    April 23, 2018, 5:00 pm

    A consensus has been building that disreputable posts on social media should be suppressed and discouraged. What these are exactly is subject for debate but with clearcut cases as fakenews, Russian trolls, hatespeech and incitement, bots and antisemitism we can be sure the mainstream media knows how to do the right thing. And the mainstream media is very good at identifying what is a reputable source and what is a disreputable source. They are very sensitive to that and will automatically and instantly shun disreputable sources, or if they have to confront them, do so in a very critical manner making clear they are keeping these sources at a safe distance. Advertisers also know that they do not want to be shown adjacent to a disreputable news item so they are really fighting the same battle.
    So what we need to do is to push disreputable sources away, make them harder to find through google, make it harder for them to find online advertising, make them less visible on youtube , facebook and twitter. You can also discourage everyone from linking to them by making clear this ‘disreputabilty’ is contagious.
    I feel that with the new vigilance towards fake news things will quickly move in the right direction.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      Tuyzentfloot
      April 23, 2018, 5:27 pm

      ? this belongs in the Finkelstein-youtube-removal thread

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      April 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

      Well done. This comment is a strong contender for this year’s prize for sarcasm.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        Tuyzentfloot
        April 24, 2018, 5:01 am

        I don’t like it but it’s not really sarcasm. I think it’s simply how it works. I doubt Chomsky realizes how important reputation is in explaining the Propaganda Model.

  2. Kay24
    Kay24
    April 23, 2018, 5:55 pm

    As the world now sees Israel has come to an ugly point where it does not give a damn about the world, or what it thinks. It does not care that these violent killings, will result in world condemnation. It does not care that they do not act like a democratic nation, when they deliberately murder protesters, who have every right to protest their brutal occupation, and the fact that the occupier thumbs it’s nose at the world, bulldozes homes, and steals land. The US has created a monster, aided it, armed it, protected it, and should be held responsible for enabling these butchers. The number of civilians killed and injured is totally unacceptable, but do we hear the outrage from the world? How about the Arab world? Crickets.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      April 24, 2018, 10:21 am

      https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/22/the-guardian-view-on-the-gaza-protests-a-new-challenge-to-israels-blockade?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&__twitter_impression=true

      “The Guardian view on the Gaza protests: a new challenge to Israel’s blockade Editorial” April 22/18

      “The use of lethal force to cow nonviolent demonstrations by Palestinians erodes Israel’s standing internationally and damages its democracy at home.”

      EXCERPT:
      “This weekend the United Nations Middle East peace envoy asked: ‘How does the killing of a child in #Gaza today help #peace? It doesn’t! It fuels anger and breeds more killing.’ Nickolay Mladenov was right to be outraged. He tweeted after a Palestinian teenager was shot in the head apparently by Israeli army snipers while peacefully protesting near a border fence. The Israeli government at first dismissed calls for an investigation, only to concede to one after the international community called on the military to ‘stop killing children.’ The soldiers’ use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators is an affront; but it is in line with the brutal attitudes towards Palestinians that have become normalised by Israeli politicians. The snatching of life from a few dozen people and the maiming of 1,700 more over the past four weeks are an indication of what Israel thinks is a fair price to pay to keep Gaza in check. A journalist has been shot dead and ambulances fired upon. This awful pummelling of a besieged population is not solely, as the Israeli military claim, to protect a border fence. It is to cow people into submission. The signs are that it will not.”

  3. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    April 24, 2018, 6:05 am

    “syvanen November 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm
    I have difficulty blaming these individual Israeli soldiers for their violent attitudes towards the destruction of Gazan properties. They are simply expressing the attitudes of any group of youth that are indoctrinated in their own military culture. They have been trained to accept violence as normal.
    What is sad is that this typical military training that any military force on the planet expects of its late teen soldiers, has infected the entire Israeli society. I am afraid that is what happens when a country exists in a mental state of war for almost a century which is what happened to Prussia and if ancient history is accurate, what happened to Sparta. What has happened is that once military thinking dominates, then violence, not negotiated settlement, is the only solution.
    Israel may have become a perpetual war state with all of the militaristic thinking that goes with that. I fear that is the state of the Israeli people today. And the only solution they will accept is military victory or defeat. Even if “victory”means that the war will continue, while defeat will be irreversible”

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 24, 2018, 6:46 am

    Nothing on cable tv news shows about this. Comcast, Time-Warner, R. Murdoch tell us what’s news fit to hear, see, read.

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