On that day in 1976 Israel shot and killed six unarmed Palestinian protesters. Here we are 40 years later, with people commemorating the killings, Israel does the exact same thing, this time killing three times that number.
Dennis Bernstein: The Israelis have declared that there will be no investigation.
Diana Buttu: Yes, and this is nothing new. There has never been an investigation into the actions of the army. After the massacre at Jenin in March of 2002, when 52 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army, the government would not allow an investigation and announced that everything had been justified.
I do not expect any justice coming from the Israeli military establishment. Trump has made it very clear in the Security Council that there will never be any investigation of these 18 Palestinian deaths.
Dennis Bernstein: And this happens at a time when people in the Gaza Strip are suffering on many levels. This protest took a lot of courage, given the fact that everyday life is a struggle. People often refer to the Gaza Strip as one of the largest open-air prisons in the world.
Diana Buttu: It has gone beyond that. The analogy was perhaps true in 2005 but now it has gotten worse than that. In prison at least you have electricity, you are still fed three times a day. Israel is making sure that the Palestinians only get electricity two or three hours a day. There is a waiting list of some 30,000 people who want to be able to leave, who have valid visas but are not allowed to leave. Imports are curtailed by the Israelis.
You and I do not measure the quality of our lives by the amount of goods that we have. We assess the quality of our lives by the things we are able to do and the time we are able to spend with friends and loved ones. In the Gaza Strip, people are completely unable to visit one another.
I myself have not been able to enter the Gaza Strip since 2007, which means that I have left behind all of my friends. And I am one of the lucky ones. My friends have been unable to leave or even think of leaving. Life for people in Gaza is completely miserable, with unfit drinking water, with an electricity infrastructure that is barely functioning, with a healthcare system that is on the verge of collapse, with malnutrition rates soaring, with unemployment rates through the roof. It is little wonder that the UN has said that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.
Dennis Bernstein: How far away are you from these friends who you are not able to visit?
Diana Buttu: About 50 miles. The only chance I have of seeing my friends is if they, by some miracle, are able to get a visa and exit and we meet in a third country. The last time this happened was several years ago when we happened to meet in the United States.
Dennis Bernstein: So the idea of a two-state solution in this context is really a crazy thought. A paper like The New York Times loves maps, but I have never seen a map of independent Palestine. This is the nature of occupation, in the context, wouldn't you say, of ethnic cleansing?
Diana Buttu: Absolutely. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine has been the one common thread since 1948. Politicians and diplomats have tried to mask it by calling for things like a two-state solution.
Part of the ethnic cleansing process is to get rid of Palestinians so that they don't have to see them. The tragedy is that no one is labeling it that. Instead they try to hide behind some diplomatic initiative or other.
Once we start looking at it as an ethnic cleansing process, we can move away from all these false attempts to come up with resolutions and put in place mechanisms to stop the process.
Dennis Bernstein: Where did the ammunition come from that was used to kill these 18 protesters and wounded some [1,000] more?