Sixty Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during demonstrations at the fence surrounding Gaza on Monday, just as Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and high-ranking Israeli officials celebrated the dedication of a new embassy in Jerusalem.
The juxtaposition of the U.S. embassy dedication ceremony in Jerusalem and the bloodbath in Gaza shows the gulf that has emerged between the Israel that Americans see and the true face of Israel.
Americans see a tolerant, democratic state. The actual behavior displayed by the Israeli army in Gaza Monday, and during all of the weekly demonstrations that have taken place there since March 30, is that of a racist and brutal occupier. Palestinians are being treated as subhuman.
For the past six weeks, Palestinians have set up encampments near the fence that traps them inside Gaza. During demonstrations, Gazans move toward the fence, lined with Israeli snipers. Many have tried to breach the fence as a way of implementing their “right of return,” the right of Palestinian refugees and their families to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
In keeping with the instructions of organizers, most protesters are nonviolent. Some throw rocks and Molotov cocktails. They are met with brute force regardless.
Over the course of the protests, compiling figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israel has killed 111 demonstrators. A shocking 13,000 have been wounded, and almost 3,400 have been shot with live ammunition.
The preferred excuse of Israel’s apologists is that the protests are in fact violent riots organized by the terrorist group Hamas, with the goal of slaughtering Jews. But those pundits are having trouble getting that narrative across, since Hamas is only one of many factions backing the protests, and not a single Israeli civilian or soldier has even been injured in the entire six weeks.
Journalist and fellow at the Nation Institute Sharif Abdel Kouddous reported on Monday’s killings from the ground. He described the events as follows: “It’s not a barrage of fire. It’s methodical. It’s patient. It’s precise. You hear a shot, and someone falls down. Then his bloodied body is carried away. You wait a few minutes, you hear another shot, and another body falls. And that’s how 1,350 people were shot yesterday—slowly, by Israel.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville condemned Israel’s conduct, stating the obvious fact that “an attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition.”
As reported by NPR, much of the world has reacted in kind, but not the United States. The U.S., rather, has done everything it can in the wake of Monday’s massacre to show the world the U.S. government sees the lives and welfare of Gaza’s residents as utterly worthless.
The U.S. blocked a UN Security Council resolution calling for an independent investigation into Monday’s bloodshed. U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, isolated herself from the world, blaming all the violence on Hamas and not uttering a word critical of Israel. White House Press Secretary Raj Shah did the same.
The rage of Monday’s protestors was fueled by the simultaneous ceremony in Jerusalem celebrating the U.S. decision to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. This symbolizes Trump's recognition of all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in defiance of international law, which states East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory. Haley absurdly claimed the protests are unrelated.
As if Haley had not yet displayed enough disregard for the humanity of Palestinians, she proceeded to walk out of the Security Council meeting as soon as the Palestinian representative began to speak.
It’s not only the diplomatic cover and Trump’s illegal decision on Jerusalem that make Americans complicit in Israel’s brutality. The U.S. sends Israel several billion dollars in military aid every year — more than double what we give to any other country. We’re paying for the weapons that are killing and maiming these demonstrators.
Gaza’s residents are not infiltrating a sovereign border. They are risking their lives in a desperate attempt to escape a miserable ghetto that Israel controls from outside. The U.S. must stop abetting Israel’s despicable behavior.
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