The Israeli government has rejected UN calls for an investigation into brutal scenes in Gaza on Friday, where Israeli troops attacked large groups of Palestinian protestors, killing at least 17 and wounding over 1,400.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Israeli army fired live ammunition and used tear gas on thousands of protestors.
Friday’s demonstration commemorated the 42nd anniversary of Land Day, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens were killed by Israeli forces during protests against the Israeli government’s decision to expropriate gigantic areas of Palestinian-owned land.
This time around, even more were killed. According to the BBC, the first to be murdered was 27 year-old Omar Samour, a Palestinian farmer killed in Israeli shelling as he worked his land early on Friday, before the protests even began.
Then, as protestors gathered, Israeli troops unleashed a barrage of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas grenades. Videos released by Al Jazeera also show Palestinians being hit by sniper fire.
Pope Francis: Defenceless being killed in Gaza
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent investigation into Friday’s bloodshed. His appeal was echoed by Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Amnesty International, and by Tamar Zandberg, leader of Israel’s left-wing opposition Meretz party.
Pope Francis, in his Easter address on Sunday, 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”.
Asked for comment, Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, said:
“Israeli soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal. As for a commission of inquiry – there won’t be one.”
Yet in any case, an investigation would not be enough. And Palestinians know better than to expect one.
Palestinians face an awful reality twisted or ignored by Western media
The Western media does its best to downplay the inhumanity of Israel’s policies towards ordinary Palestinians.
Hi @guardian I fixed your shitty headline for you. Also, can you pls stop referring to soldiers shooting at unarmed civilians as "clashes". You're perpetuating the idea that this is a two-sided conflict as opposed to a powerful militarised state occupying & oppressing civilians. pic.twitter.com/UCud3RKiie
— Åsa Jansson (@hypergraphica) March 30, 2018
Yet here is the reality: between 2008 and 2014, Israeli troops killed well over 2,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza alone. According to Human Rights Watch:
“many of these attacks amount to violations of international humanitarian law due to a failure to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians. Some amount to war crimes, including the targeting of apparent civilian structures.”
In the West Bank, Israeli security forces regularly use excessive force as a crowd control tactic; killing or grievously wounding thousands of demonstrators, rock-throwers, suspected assailants, and others with live ammunition – when, crucially, lesser means could have averted a threat or maintained order.
Friday comes as little surprise then, when looking at recent Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank. Without doubt this is Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest breach of international human rights law – but certainly not the last.
It’s highly unlikely that the international community will do anything of substance in response. Sanctions, condemnation or even acknowledgement that this was a coordinated military attack, using excessive force including murder, on large groups of innocent people would be a step towards justice for ordinary Palestinians – many who have been refugees for decades after being forcibly removed from their homes.