Evoking memories of the South African apartheid regime’s massacre of peaceful protesters in Sharpeville in 1960, Israel’s military committed a new massacre against Palestinian civilians as they were peacefully commemorating Palestinian Land Day, calling for an end to Israel’s brutal blockade of Gaza and asserting the UN-stipulated right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Israel’s impunity for the murder of Palestinians, emboldened by the unprecedented level of support from the xenophobic Trump administration in the US and the ongoing complicity of the European Union, must come to an end.
Supporting calls for an independent, international investigation, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society and the leadership of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian rights, calls for effective accountability measures against Israel, particularly a two-way military embargo, as was imposed against apartheid South Africa.
As tens of thousands of Palestinians peacefully marked Land Day on March 30th in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli military forces, or what Israeli journalist Gideon Levy calls, “the Israel massacre forces,” opened fire with live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, following deliberate plans to use “a lot of force.”As a result, at least 17 civilians were murdered and more than 1,400 injured, mostly from live ammunition. Almost half of the injured are youth.
Land Day has been commemorated by Palestinians every year since 30 March 1976, when Israeli military forces killed six Palestinian youth in mass peaceful protests in the Galilee against Israel’s large scale policy of confiscating their ancestral land to create exclusionary Jewish-only colonial settlements.
The murder and mass injury of Palestinian civilians inside the occupied Gaza Strip, in an area which Israel arbitrarily defines as its “buffer zone,” was premeditated. Israel had announced the deployment of 100 snipers to target the nonviolent protesters, ignoring warnings by Amnesty International. An Israeli military spokesperson has accidentally provided evidence that the massacre was premeditated by proudly stating that “nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured. We know where every bullet landed.”
The peaceful protests on Land Day marked the beginning of six weeks of popular mobilization, which will culminate on 15 May, Nakba Day, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing of the majority of the indigenous people of Palestine. Protests and marches are being held by Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugee communities around the world, all upholding the fundamental right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and land, and for an end to Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing.
Palestinian refugees, including internally displaced persons, constitute more than two thirds of the Palestinian people.
Palestinian popular protests are not just against Israel’s decades old policies of ethnic cleansing, siege and denial of human rights. They also target the US administration, which is set to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, defying the international consensus that rejects Israel’s sovereignty on any part of the city and considers its eastern part illegally occupied and annexed.
Last Friday, Israel yet again used Palestinian civilians as guinea pigs in its weapons laboratory, testing its new teargas-firing drones against civilians in Gaza. The export of Israeli military technology, “field-tested” on Palestinians, contributes substantially to financing Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and military aggression against other nations.
The BDS National Committee welcomes the recent resolution of the UN Human Rights Council calling on states to ensure respect of international law, among others by preventing arms trade with Israel.
We reiterate our call on people of conscience across the world to:
- Mainstream the demand for all private and public entities in your country to end all cooperation and/or trade with the Israeli military and “security sector.”
- Join military embargo campaigns targeting Israeli military companies and other companies involved in Israel’s military and security sector.Examples include the campaign against Elbit Systems, which tests its weapons on Palestinians; the campaign against the security company G4S, which trains Israeli police in enforcing Israeli apartheid; and the campaign to pressure the Hewlett Packard (HP) group to end provision of vital technology to the Israeli checkpoint system and the Israeli military imposing the siege on Gaza.
- Join or build campaigns against cooperation between Israeli police and police forces abroad, through which Israel’s tested doctrines and techniques of brutal repression of peaceful protests are exported to the world. An example is the Jewish Voice for Peace-led “Deadly Exchange” campaign.
- Join or build campaigns to end all transactions with Israeli banks and pressure international banks and investment funds, like HSBC and Axa to end their complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.