JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Raji Sourani, I'd like to also bring in Miko Peled, an Israeli peace activist. I wanted to get your response to the current violence. And also, if you could talk, as you have often talked about, the treatment of Palestinians who are -- who live within Israel, who are Israeli citizens, and yet they are also continuing to suffer under Israeli rule?
MIKO PELED: Sure, yes. I mean, look, the issue here is a threat to the Israeli legitimacy. As long as this humanitarian catastrophe continues to fester, there is a threat to the story that Israel somehow has legitimacy. And the people who have to pay the price are the Palestinians. And so, when they dare to stand, and they dare to challenge the claim that Israel has legitimacy, then they have to be shot.
The only reason that there's such poverty in the Gaza Strip, the only reason there's such poverty in the Negev desert, where Palestinians have Israeli citizenship, the only reason the Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship are on the lowest -- the lowest level, you know, the very bottom of the economic totem pole within what is called legitimate -- so-called legitimate Israel, is because they are -- Israel wants them either dead or out, because as long as they survive, as long as they are there, there's a challenge to the legitimacy of the state of Israel. If the existence of the state of Israel comes at a cost of what we see in Gaza, then there cannot be legitimacy. And this is why they're killing.
So the claim that somehow there is a threat to Israel from Gaza or a threat to Israel from any Palestinians, who never had an army, who never had a tank, who never had an F-16 fighter plane, is nonsense. The threat is that people will see that Israel has no legitimacy, that the price for the establishment and the existence of the state of Israel is Palestinian suffering, is Palestinian refugees, is the ongoing killing of Palestinians, denial of their rights, denial of their right to water and a normal life. I mean, 2 million people in Gaza live without access to clean water or medical care. The same goes for Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, who are -- who have no access to clean water and other services. So, it's an insult to the intelligence, really, when they start to claim that somehow this or any of the other Palestinian protests around Palestine at any point in time were somehow a threat.
And this nonsense claim that somehow Hamas was behind it and did not declare their intentions -- their intentions are very clear: It was a nonviolent protest. It was designed in order to remind people the Palestinians have a right to return, and they want to return to their lands and their homes, the lands from which they--in many cases, they can see from the border of the Gaza Strip. And the bottom line is that we have Palestinians--a young Palestinian child in Gaza with a curable disease will die, whereas a young Israeli child a few miles away will live, because Israel has declared it has the right to decide who lives and dies. You know, this is a reality. It's a question of legitimacy.
AMY GOODMAN: Miko Peled, you're the son of an Israeli general, the uncle of a -- your niece was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. What is the response right now of the Israeli people? I mean, you have this nonviolent demonstration, 18 Palestinians gunned down. More than a thousand have been wounded.
MIKO PELED: Look, if we want to see what Israeli society thinks, all we need to do is look at the makeup of the Israeli Knesset, of the Israeli parliament, and the Israeli government, because Israelis vote in very high numbers. So, from time to time, as in this case, you see a few hundred people protesting there, a few hundred Israelis protesting here, but the vast majority of Israelis support the government, support its actions and call for more and more violence. They see this as completely justified. If you look at the Israeli press, the narrative is that these were clashes, that there were somehow violent intentions on the part of the Palestinians. They're completely lock and step behind what the government spokespeople are saying. So, this is what the Israelis think. Israelis agree to this. They voted for these people. And it's not like it's only Netanyahu. Netanyahu has a broad coalition and broad support all over, you know, the -- among politicians, among the press and among people in the street. It's a very, very -- it's a very sad state of affairs within Israeli society, because there is support for this. If Israelis wanted to end the siege on Gaza, they could be out there, in hundreds of thousands, protesting, or vote for somebody else. They support this 100 percent.
AMY GOODMAN: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an independent, transparent investigation into the Gaza bloodshed. However, on Sunday, the Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told Israel's public radio that there will not be an inquiry. He said, quote, "From the standpoint of the [Israeli Defense Force] soldiers, they did what had to be done. ... I think that all of our troops deserve a commendation." Raji Sourani, can you respond, as we wrap up, what you're calling for and your response to what the Israeli military is saying?
RAJI SOURANI: I know the victims of 2008, '09, and I know the victims of 2012, and I know the victims of 2014. And we know what Israel is doing on day-to-day basis. I represent those civilian victims. I represented them all my life. And I know what Israel is doing, and what quality and kind of crimes they are doing. Israel doing ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, for Palestinians and Christians and Muslims. Israel building a new brand of apartheid in the West Bank and in Gaza with the siege. They are doing social, economic, health suffocation. That's the harvest of 25 years of Oslo Accords, which was intended to end by having a Palestinian self-determination, independent, and state in Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem.
Lieberman, first-class criminal, I can assure you one thing: One day he will stand for justice, and he will be held accountable for all the crimes and orders he gave to those criminal soldiers due to the chain of command.
They want to push us for one thing: to give up, to be good victims. Never, ever we will give up. And we will continue the fight for our freedom, for our dignity, for our people, for our right to be free, to have an end for this criminal occupation, in its 50th anniversary. They want to steal tomorrow from us, but tomorrow is ours. We are on the right side of history. And that will happen, irrelevant to what Lieberman is saying, our people so determined to go with this. And these peaceful demonstrations will continue to the day of Nakba, in 15th of May. And it will be, in 15th of May, a big day for Palestinians. In millions, there will be, with their friends, supporters, those who support rule of law, democracy and the human rights, and against the rule of --
AMY GOODMAN: Raji Sourani --
RAJI SOURANI: -- [inaudible] Israel is doing.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza; also Miko Peled, joining us from Washington, D.C., Israeli peace activist; and Diana Buttu, joining us on the phone from Haifa, Palestinian lawyer.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. We go to Memphis. Stay with us.