From Consortium News
Diana Buttu, a Palestinian human rights lawyer, former Bir Zeit University professor, and former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiation team.
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Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former Palestinian negotiator. On Monday, she and hundreds of other protesters were roughed up and brutalized by a phalanx of heavily armed Israeli security forces as they tried to raise the Palestinian Flag in front of the new Jerusalem-based US Embassy.
Buttu was outraged as she noted "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."
Buttu spoke to Dennis Bernstein on Tuesday May 15th, 2018
Dennis Bernstein: Diana Buttu very good to speak with you again. First of all, what is your understanding of the latest statistics? I understand the number of dead is over 60, the number of wounded is some 2,700, of which 1,300 were hit by gunshots. And please put the latest Israeli slaughter into historical context.
Diana Buttu: We are now at the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the commemoration of the establishment of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Today was a particularly difficult day, both because we had to bury over 60 Palestinians, including eight children and two people who were disabled. In addition to mourning the loss of our country and experiencing the everyday process of ethnic cleansing, we are seeing an effort on the part of the Americans and the Israelis to blame the victim. This is adding insult to injury and we are back at a place now where Israel can justify the unjustifiable.
Bernstein: What are hearing in terms of the ability to treat the wounded?
Buttu: It is important to keep in mind that this is not just a case of overloading at the hospitals, but of the capacity of the hospitals to begin with. These are hospitals that have been running on less than three hours of electricity per day because of the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip. They don't have the necessary medical supplies because of the blockade. So we are talking about people who are going to die because they are unable to get the necessary treatment. Add to that the kind of weaponry that the Israelis are using. We are hearing of two new types of bullets, one of which is designed to explode inside the body and maim. We are also hearing reports of a different kind of gas which is being used on Palestinians which is akin to a nerve gas. Israeli has a policy of shoot-to-kill.
Bernstein: This notion of the Israeli government that every single person in Gaza is guilty, that there are no innocent people in Gaza. What does that say to you?
Buttu: The Israelis have had this policy for quite some time. Avigdor Lieberman has said many times in the past that there are no innocents in Gaza. This is why we see them deliberately targeting children and people in wheelchairs. They can excuse the death of an eight-month-old child who died yesterday from gas inhalation. This process of demonization is what allows them to continue to perpetrate a massacre.
Bernstein: Some people refer to this as a war between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But there have been no Israeli casualties, none. How can you consider that a war?
Buttu: It is not only zero casualties, nobody has been even remotely injured. The Israelis are gunning Palestinians down. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. These are people who are nowhere near this electrified fence that the Israelis claim to be defending. [Buttu has been challenged about whether the fence is electrified.] This is a one-sided massacre, with a green light given to it by the Trump administration.
Bernstein: This slaughter is taking place on a day which the Israeli prime minister is calling one of the greatest days in Israel's history, with the decision of the US government to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Could you talk about the significance of the move in the context of what has been going on in Gaza?
Buttu: Yes, this is a great day for Israel. At its very core, Israel is about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It is ethnic cleansing and land theft that is being recognized and rewarded. Sunday was the 51st anniversary of the occupation by the Hebrew calendar. It is celebrating 51 years of the denial of freedom. The day after is when the US decided to move its embassy. Today is the 70th commemoration of the Nakba. What the United States has done is pour salt into a very open wound. It is sending a very clear message to the Palestinians that Israel will forever be rewarded for violating human rights, for stealing Palestinian land, for expanding settlements, demolishing Palestinian homes. They will never be sanctioned or censored. Instead they will be rewarded.
Bernstein: The Israelis are saying that this is a Hamas terrorist operation at the border. They shot at least 27 terrorists who were trying to plant bombs. But we didn't see any Hamas or any political flags.