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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/2/18

Massacre in Gaza: Israeli Forces Open Fire on Palestinians, Killing 18, Wounding As Many As 1,700

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And the Israeli soldiers on the other side, 100 to 150. I can assure you one harvest of this day: Not a single Israeli soldier was hurt or injured or shot. But we have almost 1,500 people injured, many of them in critical conditions. Many of those in a critical conditions are children. And we have 16 killed that day. We are talking about purely civilians people, peaceful demonstration. It was very costly.

And Israel wanted to provocate people, to have the retract for the Gazan total, to retaliate, to retaliate in a violent way. But people were committed to this notion: peaceful, peaceful demonstration. And they wanted to show their moral superiority on criminal, aggressive occupation, who do flagrantly war crimes and crimes against humanity on the daylight. This was on the record, in front of the media. It wasn't, I mean, hide. And I challenge if Israel can prove one single violent act was taken by the demonstrators at that day. It was, for us, day of pride and day of challenge for this anniversary of 50 years of criminal occupation.

AMY GOODMAN: Raji Sourani, we're going to break and then come back to this discussion. Raji Sourani, award-winning human rights lawyer, activist, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. He is on the executive board of the International Federation for Human Rights, a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award winner. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we'll continue our discussion about what took place in Gaza. It's believed 18 people killed by Israeli forces on Friday, more than a thousand wounded. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: "The Night Has Fallen Down" by Rim Banna, a Palestinian musician who recently died of cancer. Banna has performed all over the world calling for the end of the Palestinian occupation. This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonza'lez, as we continue to look at the crisis in Gaza, where 18 Palestinians were killed after Israeli forces opened fire Friday on a protest near the Gaza Strip's eastern border with Israel. As many as 1,700 Palestinians were wounded.

In addition to human rights activist Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza City, who was there on Friday, we're also joined by Diana Buttu in the Israeli city of Haifa. She has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel, previously an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. And in Washington, D.C., we're joined by the Israeli peace activist and writer Miko Peled. His father was an Israeli general, a military governor of the Gaza Strip and a member of Parliament. In 1997, his niece was killed in a suicide attack in Jerusalem. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I'd like to bring in Diana Buttu to talk about the claims of the Israeli Defense Forces, one, that the protesters turned violent, and also that most of the people killed were young men between the ages of 18 and 30, including several folks that they've identified as Hamas leaders. Could you respond to that portion of what the Israelis have claimed?

DIANA BUTTU: Well, of course the Israelis are going to try to claim that this was anything but a peaceful protest, because they have no way of justifying what it is that they did. I think it's important, Juan, to keep in mind exactly the layout of the Gaza Strip. We've got the Gaza Strip, which is completely fortified on both the north and eastern side by an electrified fence. And then, in addition to that electrified fence, that people cannot pass, Israel has imposed a 350-meter, about a thousand-foot, buffer zone that is unmarked in that area, as well. And that buffer zone, that no-go zone, is an area where if Palestinians go there, they will be shot by the Israeli army.

And so, their claim is that they were somehow trying to protect Israel. But, first, there was no -- there was absolutely no sign whatsoever that there was any -- any of that sort of thing. And then, secondly, the type of force and the weaponry that was used, they made it clear, from even the day before the protest was taking place, that they were going to use live ammunition to shoot to kill. And they announced as much by saying that they were going to be using and putting forth a hundred snipers on the border that day. So, this idea that this was somehow not a peaceful protest is simply their attempt at revisionist history. But video footage and all the footage that is coming out of Gaza has clearly demonstrated the opposite.

In terms of the people who were killed, there were people -- the vast majority of the people or all the people who were killed were under the age of 30, because that is the composition of the Gaza Strip right now. More than 50 percent of the population is under the age of 18 years of age. So, what Israel was shooting at was a child population. It's a defenseless population, a civilian population and a refugee population. And they made it very clear that they were shooting to kill, and so they did.

AMY GOODMAN: On Saturday, the Israeli army tweeted, "Yesterday we saw 30,000 people; we arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed." The tweet was later deleted. The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the tweet was akin to saying, "Israeli army takes full responsibility for the killing of all unarmed protesters and the injuring of hundreds with live ammunition." Raji Sourani, in Gaza, your response to what Israel is saying and the fact that Israel is saying they will not investigate this, despite what the U.N. Security Council is calling for?

RAJI SOURANI: "...investigated. And my experience for the last 40 years as practicing lawyer in the Israeli legal system, never, ever, I mean, they hold accountable anybody, I mean, for crimes, you know, have been committed, vice versa, I mean, even with the cases we submitted once and again. I mean, all the way along, the Israeli legal system provided full legal cover for organized, systematic crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army. On the other side, Israel never cooperated with any investigation committee ever, by the U.N. or any other body. They only recognize their justice. And they know how to justify for themselves all these willful killings and crimes they are perpetrating against international law.

We do act according to very simple formula, supported by international community. There is facts, standards, conclusions. The facts, we know. I mean, we are living here, and I think we have enough credibility and professionalism to say this is peaceful demonstration. And Palestinians can be peaceful. We are not terrorists. We are freedom fighters. We are romantic revolutionaries. We have absolute legitimate right of be free of occupation, and the history never, ever spoke about just or fair occupation. It's vice versa. The Israeli occupation showed, by default, I mean, how criminal they are.

Now, the demonstrations were peaceful. And the Israeli army, before this Friday, in a clear-cut way, politicians, a spokesperson, army spokespersons and different army and security leaders said, "We are going to use the snipers. We are going to kill any who come close to the borders, peaceful or not." And these statements are on the record. Believe me. Believe me, Amy, I was there. It can be me who was shot and killed or injured. In short, lottery numbers. Snipers are hundreds of meters away, and they are shooting, picking people like animals -- I mean, shooting at them, for no reason whatsoever. I mean, you can see people falling down among those peaceful demonstrators -- you know, one injured, one killed, one in the back of his head, one in his spine. And you don't know, I mean, where your lottery number can be. So, Israel really committed very intentionally crime. They did willful killing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Raji --

RAJI SOURANI: This was -- in advance, has been decided.

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Democracy Now!  is a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program hosted by journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Pioneering the largest public media collaboration in the U.S., Democracy Now! is broadcast on (more...)
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