The March of Return

Protests at the border between Gaza and Israel have resulted in at least 18 Palestinian deaths by Israeli military forces.

UPDATE 04/16/2018 11:36 AM PST: Palestinian protesters gathered along the border with Israel for the third Friday in a row in the ongoing “March of Return” protest. Thirty Palestinians were injured Friday, and Israeli soldiers have killed at least 34 Palestinians since the protests began on March 30.

The protest was planned to coincide with Palestinian Land Day, which marks the anniversary of the confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government in 1976. It is being called the March of Return.Roughly 70% of Gaza’s 2 million residents are descendants of those Palestinians who were evicted from their homes and lands as a result of the Israeli occupation.

As of Saturday, at least 1,749 protesters had been injured by the Israeli forces and the U.S. has blocked a move by the United Nations Security Council to open an investigation into the killings after the country of Kuwait requested an emergency meeting late Friday.

The Turkish, Qatari, and Jordanian governments have all issued statements condemning the violence and placing the blame squarely on Israeli forces, while Kuwait criticized the Security Council’s ultimate lack of substantive action.

“These peaceful demonstrations posed no threat whatsoever to Israel or its heavily armed soldiers. Yet its trigger-happy soldiers used live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets to shoot indiscriminately at those nonviolent protesters, who were demonstrating inside the Gaza Strip near their side of the well-fortified barrier that separates them from Israel. How could that be condoned?”  – Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N.

Israeli Captain Keren Hajioff, head of public diplomacy in the Israeli Defense Forces, claims that the protests are “anything other than [peaceful],” asserting that the Hamas terrorist organization has sent agents to the protests.

Indeed, Hamas has acknowledged that at least five of the fatalities were members of their organization.

In response to the violence, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared Saturday a national day of mourning, and called for a general strike across all the Palestinian territories.

“There is no future for the youth, it was destroyed, they wanted just a better life. Unfortunately there is no better life but for dead people.”  – Faiyeq Sabbagh

Meanwhile in the U.S., Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has decried the violence in Gaza, arguing via Twitter that the Israeli military forces “over-reacted” in their response and calling for greater U.S. effort towards relieving the “humanitarian disaster.”

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Considering our current president has willingly jeopardized years of political maneuvering and peace-brokering by moving forward with his decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, thereby infuriating and alienating Palestinian leaders, it seems unlikely that our government will intervene on behalf of the protesters.

*** Listen to DemocracyNow!’s interview with Raji Sourani, award-winning human rights lawyer, activist, and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza.

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