The Gaza ‘Return March’ has begun – The refugees won’t stop until their voices are heard

Opinion  
Palestine Update  128
The Gaza ‘Return March’ has begun –
The refugees won’t stop until their voices are heard

Israel did what the world has come to expect of its army and political leaders – suppress peaceful protest with vicious violence. Israel’s ruthless response to the Gaza’s peaceful Return March followed the usual Israeli military design. The Israeli military rationalized their atrocities by invoking the fear that Hamas might prompt acts of violence. They set up snipers to shoot at the innocent regardless of any provocation.

Israel runs scared at the demands of Palestinian refugees for a right to return to their pre-1948 homes. The Gazans who live in what is almost a stone’s throw from their former villages understand this best and know how real and vital and legitimate this claim is.

Pope Francis classified Israel’s actions as “wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenceless”.  Israel has clearly incurred the wrath of the entire civilized world with leaders across continents confirming support for urgent talks that conclude with a viable peace based on justice, not compromise that leaves Palestinians disadvantaged.  The UN Security Council came down hard on Israel’s actions but failed to get a resolution through owing to a US Veto. At the Security Council it was observed that: “The developments in Gaza today are again a painful reminder of the consequences of a missing peace between Israel and Palestine and the need to step up our efforts in support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, condemned Israel’s use of military snipers against the civilian protesters adding “live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants…Israel is obligated to act in accordance with international law.”

Even after this horrific act, Netanyahu invoked the claim that Israel remains the most moral army in the Middle East. Was that meant to be a joke to commemorate April fool’s Day? Increasingly, the word views Israel as a rogue state. The brutal attack on peaceful protesters sets it apart as a fanatic racist State whose army and its generals, as well as the political class responsible for is barbaric decisions, are terrorists. No less. Israel has already rejected the option of an independent investigation. If her actions were moral by any stretch of imagination, why would it spurn an independent enquiry? With a cupboard full of skeletons, Israel needs to hide its venomous designs and crimes.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have a right to resist Israeli occupation by whatever means they choose. Resistance by Palestinians would weaken Israel. But it terrifies its allies because Palestinian resistance has inspired revolts and protests across the Middle East that open up the possibility for wider, progressive and even revolutionary change.

Ranjan Solomon


‘Defenceless’ killed in Holy Land: Pope

 Pope Francis, in his Easter address, has called for peace in the Holy Land two days after 15 Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border, saying the conflict there “does not spare the defenceless”. He made his appeal from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a mass. Francis appeared to refer directly to the Gaza violence referring to the “wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenceless.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, and other leaders have called for an independent investigation into the bloodshed. Israel’s defence minister has rejected calls for an inquiry into the killings by the military during a Palestinian demonstration that turned violent at the Gaza-Israel border.
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World condemns Israeli attacks on Palestinians

Over the weekend, a  growing list of world leaders condemned Israeli attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip that martyred 15 Palestinians during peaceful protests the previous day. The German foreign ministry voiced deep concerning for the tensions between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. The clash made evident it is “absolutely necessary” to “resume negotiations” between the Palestinians and Israelis, it said in a statement. “Only in this way can there be a solution that gives all people living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River the right to a dignified life and self-determination.”

In the U.K.’s minister of state for Middle East and North Africa expressed similar concerns. “Deeply concerned and saddened at events in Gaza. UK calls for calm and restraint and renewed and urgent commitment to political processes to resolve the issues which violence cannot.” Also joining the chorus of concern was Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, who urged both parties to find an urgent solution that would ease tension and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. In Iraq, a foreign ministry spokesperson said his country stands with Palestinians and affirmed Baghdad’s firm support for the Palestinian cause and denounced the use of live bullets against peaceful protesters in the Gaza Strip as an open violation of the international law.

“I firmly condemn the unnecessary and disproportionate violence of Israel, towards the unarmed Palestinian civilians who protest to highlight the hard situation they are in,” was the message from Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Izetbegovic demanded the UN, EU and international community end Israeli violence against Palestinians.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood also condemned the attacks and use of “deadly force” against Gazans. “The Great Return March is a revolutionary referendum against the projects to liquidate the Palestinian cause and a death certificate for the Deal of Century,” said Talaat Fahmi, spokesman for the group. Fahmi said Palestinians are defending the holy lands while the international community remains silent in the face of Israeli violations.

In addition to the martyred Gazans, hundreds of others were injured when Israeli forces opened fire on protesters marking Land Day, the annual commemoration of the deaths of six Arab Israeli citizens killed by Israeli forces in 1976, during demonstrations against government land confiscations in northern Israel. The rallies were the start of a six-week protest that will culminate May 15, the day Palestinians call Nakba, or Catastrophe, when Israel was founded.

Demonstrators are demanding Palestinian refugees be allowed the right of return to towns and villages which their families fled, or were driven out of, when Israel was created in 1948.

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Human Rights Groups Slam Israeli Crimes in GazaAdalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, released a statement on Friday condemning Israel’s use of military snipers against the civilian protesters.

“The Israeli military’s use of 100 snipers against unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters in the Gaza Strip is illegal, the statement said, adding “live gunfire on unarmed civilians constitutes a brutal violation of the international legal obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants…Israel is obligated to act in accordance with international law,” Adalah said, adding that it will be calling for an investigation into those responsible for the deaths in Gaza, and “will demand that those found responsible for the killings be brought to justice.”

According to the group, on Thursday, the day before 16 Palestinians were shot dead along the border with Gaza, Adalah and the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights sent a letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the Israeli Military Advocate General “demanding they act to prevent the use of sniper fire against protesters or for crowd dispersion, and to clearly and directly order Israeli forces to refrain from use of live ammunition of any variety – including sniper fire.” The groups also sent a second letter calling on the Israeli military “to remove all social media posts threatening participants in today’s Gaza march that they will be military targets and also remove social media posts threatening the civilian population in Gaza.”

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Security Council condemns killing of civilians at Israel-Gaza Border 

The Security Council members, in an emergency meeting tonight, condemned the killing of civilians in Gaza during a peaceful protest that had erupted in violence. United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefing the Council on the situation, said that what had begun early in the day as a demonstration had devolved into violence at several locations across Gaza, resulting in more than 15 deaths and 1,000 injuries of civilians, with some reportedly coming from live ammunition that had been used by the Israeli security forces.

 “The developments in Gaza today are again a painful reminder of the consequences of a missing peace between Israel and Palestine and the need to step up our efforts in support of a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said, strongly urging Palestinians, Israelis and the international community to take concrete measures to reverse the current course of the conflict and advance the goal of a just and sustainable peace based on the two-State solution.

The United States on Saturday blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, diplomats said. Kuwait, which represents Arab countries on the council, presented the proposed statement, which called for an “independent and transparent investigation” of the violence. The draft council statement also expressed “grave concern at the situation at the border.” And it reaffirmed “the right to peaceful protest” and expressed the council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.”

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Also see

Gaza Protesters met with lethal force
Thousands of Gazans marched to their border with Israel calling for an end to the more than 10-year blockade. Israeli soldiers used live ammunition and tear gas against the peaceful protesters, killing
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Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.
لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.
Mahmoud Darwish.