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Gaza’s children carry mock coffins for dead children, and say, ‘We may also be carried’

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Marah Al-Abadseh was one of 20 child scouts in Khan Yunis city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, carrying 12 fake coffins to commemorate children killed by the Israeli troops during the 18 weeks of Gaza protests and throughout the years of wars and uprisings.

The terrified 13–year old Marah was shedding tears after carrying a small wooden coffin with a picture of Wesal Sheikh Khalil, a girl who was shot dead by Israeli snipers in May while participating in the weekly protest.

Marah Al-Abadseh. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

But Marah’s mother was trying to calm her down: “This show will end on that platform, not to the border fence, darling,” said the mother.

“I do not know Wesal or the rest of these children [in the pictures],” Marah said. “Maybe they were in my school or used to play in our neighborhood until recently.”

Mock coffins for slain children, Gaza border, July 27, 2018. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

“Today I carry a not real coffin for one who was killed by the Israelis. Maybe these scouts will carry my real coffin or I will carry a real coffin one day,” she told Mondoweiss.

“Were these children threatening the army? Do they not have children and know what a child means?” Marah wondered.

Since 30 March, hundreds of thousands of Gazans have marched each week on the heavily fortified border. The protest campaign calls for an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade on Gaza and for Palestinian refugees’ right of return to the territories that their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Children participating in the scout show continued to carry the fake coffins to the platform, while a scholar asked the participants to perform funeral prayer.

Participants perform funeral prayer. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

Photos of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the word “killer” was also held up during the rally.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has confirmed that Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, two Palestinians and injured 246 others, among them eleven who suffered serious wounds, 10 women, 4 medics, one journalist and 19 children. One of those killed was a child: an Israeli army sharpshooter shot Majdi Ramzi Kamal Satri, 12, with a live round in the head, east of Rafah city, in the southern part of the enclave, during the Great Return March procession, the Ministry said.

Wounded protester, July 27, Gaza, photo by Mohammad Asad.

Their deaths brings the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza since March 30 to 154, including 20 children and two women, according to Ministry data.

“This show is a message to the Arabs and the world that in every Palestinian house there is a wounded or a martyr child” said Scout Commander Emad Al-Abd, 49.

Trump and Netanyahu are killers, in children’s protest, Gaza. July 27, 2018. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

“Those kids came here to send their message to the international community to demand a decent life”. Al-Abd told Mondoweiss.

Israel has killed more than 3,000 children since 28 September 2000 when the Second Intifada began until the end of April 2017, according to The Palestinian Ministry of Information.

“A whole generation of children in Gaza is balancing on a knife edge where one more shock could have devastating life-long consequences,” Marcia Brophy, a senior health adviser at Save the Children, said in a statement in June.

Protest of slain children. Gaza border, July 27, 2018. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

Feelings of depression, hyperactivity, a preference for being alone, and aggression were reported by 95 percent of children in Gaza, research released by Save the Children has shown, Brophy added.

Israel has launched three major military operations on the besieged territory since 2008. The most recent, and deadly, operation took place in 2014 and killed over 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.

Protest of slain children. Gaza border, July 27, 2018. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

Injured protester. Gaza border, July 27, 2018. Photo by Mohammad Asad.

With up to 45 percent of Gaza’s population under the age of 14, children are disproportionately impacted by war and the blockade. For many, it is all they have known in their short lives.

Last April, Israeli government justifies killing child protesters in Gaza saying that “They’re not in school”.



Ahmad Kabariti

Ahmad Kabariti is a freelance journalist based in Gaza.

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2 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on July 29, 2018, 7:54 pm

    RE: “Israel has killed more than 3,000 children since 28 September 2000 when the Second Intifada began until the end of April 2017, according to The Palestinian Ministry of Information.”

    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. . .


  2. Misterioso on July 30, 2018, 10:54 am

    Jacobin, July 27/18

    “Israel Has No Right of Self-Defense Against Gaza”
    By Norman G. Finkelstein and Jamie Stern-Weiner
    “Israel has no legal right to use any kind of force in Gaza — under any circumstances.”

    “…the fact is, Israel cannot claim a right to use any force in Gaza — whether moderate or excessive, proportionate or disproportionate; whether protesters are unarmed or armed, don’t or do pose an imminent threat to life. If it appears otherwise, that’s because the current debate ignores critical caveats in international law and abstracts from the specific situation in Gaza.

    “What International Law Says
    To justify its use of force in Gaza, Israel claims the right to prevent alien intrusion into its sovereign territory. An Israeli legal commentator observes that this professed concern for the sanctity of the Gaza ‘border’ is opportunistically selective. Israel invades Gaza at will; only when Palestinians seek to cross in the other direction does the fence become sacrosanct. Setting this hypocrisy aside, Israel’s purported right to self-defense still lacks any legal basis. On the contrary, Israel’s resort to force contravenes international law.

    “The Palestinian people in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza are struggling to achieve their internationally validated ‘right to self-determination’ (International Court of Justice). As preeminent legal scholar James Crawford notes, international law prohibits the use of military force ‘by an administering power to suppress widespread popular insurrection in a self-determination unit,’ whereas ‘the use of force by a non-State entity in exercise of a right of self-determination is legally neutral, that is, not regulated by international law at all.’

    Demonstrators in Gaza have chosen to use nonviolence in pursuit of their internationally validated rights — a tactic that, of course, international law also does not prohibit. But this prudential decision is not a legal requirement. Even if Gazans opted to use weapons against Israeli snipers who obstruct their right to self-determination, Israel’s resort to military force would still be legally debarred.

    “The allocation of rights and obligations in standard Western discourse — which effectively accords Israel the right to use violent force in self-defense against Gazans, even as it obliges the people of Gaza to wage nonviolently their self-determination struggle — upends international law.

    “It might be objected that inasmuch as Israel is a belligerent occupier in Gaza, it has the right, under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to use force in order to maintain public order. But this objection falls on three counts.

    “First, the Fourth Geneva Convention obliges a belligerent occupier to provide for and ensure the welfare of the occupied population. Indeed, ‘Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War’ is the convention’s raison d’etre. Israel, however, has subjected Gaza’s civilian population to a protracted siege that amounts to illegal ‘collective punishment,’ according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and that has rendered Gaza physically ‘unlivable,’ according to the UN. The Fourth Geneva Convention does not sustain Israel’s right to preserve order in Gaza even as it flagrantly breaches its complementary obligation to guard the welfare of Gaza’s civilian population. In fact, the disorder Israel claims the right to suppress directly springs from the criminal blockade it has imposed.

    “Second, even if Israel qualified as a belligerent occupier in Gaza, the right of a people to self-determination is a peremptory norm (jus cogens) of international law from which no derogation is permissible. If, as in this case, the law of belligerent occupation overlaps with the right to self-determination, then Gaza’s right to self-determination trumps Israel’s right to maintain order; and if, as in this case, the struggle for self-determination is being waged non-violently, then Israel’s purported right to use armed force to maintain order is manifestly ill-founded.

    “Third, in point of fact, Israel’s occupation of Gaza has by now become illegal, and it has consequently forfeited its rights as a belligerent occupier. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1971 that since South Africa had refused to conduct good-faith negotiations to end its occupation of Namibia, that occupation had become illegal. Israel’s refusal over a full half-century to conduct good-faith negotiations on the basis of international law to withdraw from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza has likewise delegitimized its occupation.

    “There is also another critical legal dimension that has been ignored. It is a fundamental principle of international law that no state may resort to forceful measures unless ‘peaceful means’ have been exhausted (UN Charter, Article 2). This principle is as sacred to the rule of law as the analogous Hippocratic oath, primum non nocere (first, do no harm), is to medicine. The impetus behind the protests at Gaza’s perimeter fence is Israel’s illegal siege, and their objective is to end it. Even Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu conceded: ‘They’re suffocating economically, and therefore, they decided to crash into the fence.’”

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