Juan Cole — juancole.com March 31, 2018
Palestinians in Gaza staged an unarmed protest Friday, part of a planned multi-week event, near the Israeli line of control. They are demanding the right to return to their homes.
The Israeli army indiscriminately opened fire on the protesters with live ammunition, killing at least 17 and wounding dozens (perhaps hundreds). Hundreds were also sickened by military-grade tear gas. This was shooting fish in a barrel. There is no reason to think that the Israeli troops were in danger or received deadly fire themselves. There was rock throwing toward the fence that imprisons the Palestinians. No Israeli casualties have been reported. Some video circulating, which IC cannot confirm, appears to show victims shot in the back or while praying. This was more like a US police shooting of an innocent, unarmed victim.
Although the US press is reporting that those killed died in “clashes,” they appear all to have been on the Gaza side of the line of control and never actually to have encountered any Israelis. There was no “clash.” Shooting down innocent unarmed people on their own land is typically termed “murder.”
In 1948, lean, mean Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine attacked Palestinian villagers and townspeople in the south, in places like Beersheba and Nejd, and drove them into the Gaza Strip, where they live to this day, many of them still in refugee camps. On Nejd lands, the Europeans formed the Israeli town of Sderot, which they have peopled not only with Israelis but also Thai agricultural guest workers.
Families in Gaza displaced from Nejd could walk home in half an hour if allowed to.
70 percent of Palestinian resident families in Gaza were kicked out of their homes in what is now Israel by armed Jewish immigrants into British Mandate Palestine, and the Palestinians were consigned to 8 refugee camps. They would starve to death if it were not for aid via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the budget of which Trump has just kneecapped. There are now 1.8 million people in Gaza, most of them desperately poor. Since 2007 they have been under a military and economic blockade by Israel, which routinely shoots their fishermen and has limited import of building materials such as cement. Israel carefully dispenses the right to leave Gaza, essentially a large jail for the victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing, and several Palestinian children have died in recent times because they weren’t permitted to go get good medical care.
In the course of World War I, the British army conquered geographical Palestine away from the Ottoman Empire. The other Mandatory forces authorized by the Versailles Peace Treaty were charged with temporarily administering Syria, Iraq, Togo and other countries-in-waiting for the welfare of their inhabitants and in preparation for independence. Britain had some of these obligations in Palestine, for the then 1.3 million Palestinians, as well. But many British administrators thought of their charge as two-fold, since they also wished to establish what they called a “home” for the “Jewish people” in the midst of the teeming masses of Palestinians. They were paying off what they saw as a debt to Zionist leaders for their support in WW I. Their other debt was to the Hashemites of Mecca, to whom they awarded Transjordan.