Photo from cpt.org in 2005
Israel plans violent IDF response to a non-violent Palestinian protest against Israel turning Gaza into a ghetto
Because encouraging Hamas to keep firing rockets into Israeli settlements so that you can respond with overwhelming force is working out well for both parties. I mean, really, the Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives are a small price to pay for Hamas and Israeli governmental “leaders” to play with their fun toys and continue the generational ethnic violence.
It seems that Hamas (who, like it or not [I certainly don't] is the “legitimate” Palestinian leadership right now) has chosen a different, more just way forward here in the short-term than rocket attacks of responding to Israel’s sealing off of the Gaza Strip. What Israel’s action has done is prohibit the import or export of many goods and services, including the shutting off of water and electricity into Gaza. The practical effect of this action is a splitting of many Palestinians’ land so that they can’t get from one side of their property to the other.
The fun news here is that Israelis have taken advantage of a generational land ownership system (fellahin communal ownership) that they do not recognize to seize Palestinian lands for the Israeli state. As this website very practically describes, a law dating from the Ottoman rule of the area, I believe, declares that if a land is “unoccupied” by an owner for a certain period of time, the land then can be “owned” by the party that squats on it for a certain period of time. It dates back to most inhabitants being Bedouin nomads, who roved the land. What Israel has done is to seal off a certain area that is owned by Palestinians and declare it a “closed military zone,” or “security zone,” splitting farms right down the middle; thus forbidding farmers from accessing their fields.
Photo from cpt.org
When the farmers try, they are often turned back or consistently beaten by soldiers and Israeli settlers. After a period of time, the Ministry of Agriculture issues confiscation orders regarding these fields due to “neglect” by owners, thus freeing Israeli settlers to purchase the land. Recently, some Palestinian farmers have undertaken what I would call a heroic effort to stay on their land despite beatings, blatant ethnic hatred, warning shots, harassment, and flock abuse. Here’s a link to their efforts.
The security wall, however, makes concrete (pun fully intended) the reality that farmers WILL NOT access that part of their land, thus making the land “neglected” immediately since it’s a little tough to get a herd of sheep over a 25 ft security wall.
All of that is the necessary context for the present situation, where a nonviolent protest was planned for massive numbers of Palestinian citizens to somehow scale the fence and climb over to protest the injustice of the wall and break the economic blockade of Gaza from Israel as well. But Israel found out about this plan. Take a gander at their response (from this story by Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz)
Israel is already enforcing sterile buffer zones near the fence, especially in areas near Israeli settlements. Which is to say the IDF shoots anyone who attempts to approach the fence in those areas…the IDF has also carved up the area inside the Gaza Strip, at least on the army’s maps.
The army intends to prevent the marchers from advancing on the fence when they are still inside the Strip, using various means for crowd dispersal according to a ring system: The closer the marchers get to the fence, the harsher the response.The army plans to fire at open areas near the demonstrators with artillery that the Artillery Corps has been moving to the area over the past couple of days. If the marchers continue and cross into the next ring, they will face tear gas. If they persist, snipers could be ordered to aim for the marchers’ legs as they approach the fence.
Am I going too far to suggest that an IDF soldier could *oops* shoot a little higher than the knees ever, you know, “in error?”
In a later comment, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said,
“We don’t plan to fool around in this regard,” he told Israel Radio. “We will use measures in the way we deem necessary to prevent people breaking into the state of Israel’s territory.” Asked if this could include using live fire against Palestinians, Vilnai said: “Anything that must be done, will be done.”
This quote came from the same man who in late February said, “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” Link to story here. In case you’re not familiar with the terminology, “shoah” is a word rarely used in Israel beyond being a name for the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. Yeah, the guy was threatening genocide; as if it hasn’t already taken place before in recent history.
It seems this threat and military buildup dampened some of the Palestinian spirits and plans for the protest, though 20,000 people showed up on February 25th and formed a human chain 25 miles long in (relatively) peaceful protest. Leader Rami Abdu of the Popular Committee Against the Siege said, “Our message to the world is that we will not be silent until the siege is lifted.” Protestors carried signs that read, “The siege will only make us stronger,” “The world has sentenced Gaza to death,” and “Save Gaza.”
In case you didn’t know about Israel has been doing recently in Gaza, you may want to look up what the Nazis did to Jews in Germany and Poland and surrounding territories in the mid-twentieth century, herding them into ghettos where they limited or shut off the inflow of supplies and prohibited commerce. I’m assuming you’ve heard of the Nazis? Now this disgusting practice is being carried out by the Israelis.
This is putrid.
But, hey, who am I to judge? Keep that cycle of violence going, Israel! Forget this change in approach by Hamas, because who wants an end to ethnic strife anyways, especially when any significant peace agreement will involve concessions on both sides that limit “sovereignty”?
Maybe the children can inject some sense into this disgusting situation. Please watch this video and pay attention to the little girl’s story and wisdom midway through.