From Consortium News
The latest Israeli slaughter of Gazans falls into the category of shooting fish in a tank. Indeed, as tens of thousands of Gazans protested the longest occupation in modern history and demanded their historical Right to Return, last Friday, March 30, Israeli snipers raised their rifles repeatedly and, from behind a wide-buffer and an electrified fence, opened fire on the Palestinians.
The latest stats of killed and wounded from the so-called confrontation between Israeli sharp-shooters and Palestinians is at least 18 Palestinians killed and over 1,000 wounded. On the Israeli side, zero casualties. Zero!
Diana Buttu is a Palestinian/Canadian lawyer based in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine. She is a former Palestinian negotiator. I spoke with her in Haifa on April 2nd, 2018.
Dennis Bernstein: Maybe you could begin with your best information in terms of what happened.
Diana Buttu: I can give you the rough numbers. 18 Palestinians are confirmed dead. Others are in very critical condition and unable to get the medical attention they need. Over [1,000] Palestinians were wounded. They are unable to receive treatment, both because of the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip and because of the lack of electricity. Palestinian human rights organizations are calling for the wounded to receive treatment elsewhere, but so far the Israeli government has refused.
Dennis Bernstein: What do we know about how this unfolded? I heard in an NPR report that this was not just a protest, that these were militants.
Diana Buttu: We know that the Israeli government announced days in advance that they were going to be positioning snipers along the border. Now, there are multiple sets of borders in effect here. There is an electrified fence on the eastern and northern sides of the Gaza Strip. A cement wall is on the southern border with Egypt. The water is blockaded by the Israeli navy on the western side.
In addition to those physical borders, the Israeli army has been enforcing what they call a buffer zone, which is about 1,000 feet away from the electrified fence. We know that when Palestinians approached the buffer zone on the eastern side, the Israelis immediately started shooting Palestinian protesters.
From video footage we can see that people were shot in the back. Others were shot for carrying tires or for simply walking into these areas. These were individuals who posed no threat whatsoever. Even if they were attempting to cross the border, you don't use live fire to kill people who are crossing a border.
And secondly, the point of this was to highlight the fact that Palestinians cannot return. 80% of the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip does not come from the Gaza Strip. They are actually refugees driven out by the Israelis. While Israel keeps claiming that there were attempts to "infiltrate," in any case this is not a proper response.
The fact that Israel was positioning snipers on the border indicates that they were ready, willing and able to shoot protesters in the back. The head of the Israeli defense establishment has said that every one of these snipers should be commended.
Dennis Bernstein: How many Israeli soldiers were wounded and killed?
Diana Buttu: Zero. Again, this was not a question of the protesters posing any danger to any individual. It was the mere fact that Palestinians were out in protest.
I want to put this in its proper historical perspective. The reason they were out on March 30 is because this day, in 1976, the Israelis did the exact same thing to Palestinians who were citizens of Israel. At that time, Palestinians were protesting the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land by the Israeli government in order to make way for Jewish towns.