Why Hasn’t the US Condemned Indiscriminate Violence Against Gaza Strip Protesters?

Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year-old Palestinian journalist, was tasked with reporting on the continuing protests taking place along the Gaza Strip-Israel border. Aware that there had been violence between protesters and soldiers, Murtaja wore a blue flak jacket with “PRESS” printed clearly on both sides.

Despite international law strictly prohibiting the targeting of members of the press, Israeli soldiers open fired on Murtaja, shooting him in the stomach. He later died.

Since these protests began on March 30, thousands of Palestinians have been injured by Israeli soldiers. At the time of writing, Murtaja was just one of at least 33 individuals who have been killed so far. An additional 1,297 have been shot non-fatally; 1,554 others have been hospitalized due to tear gas inhalation and injuries from rubber-coated bullets.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli military authorities insist that these numbers, which come from sources within Gaza, are drastically inflated. They maintain that, at most, several dozen Palestinians had been shot.

These claims, however, haven’t provided any accompanying evidence. By comparison, individual reports from hospitals in Gaza show that, at the very least, Israel’s casualty estimates come far short of the reality.

For years, Israeli forces stationed on the Gaza Strip have operated on a policy of opening fire on anyone observed remotely near the border. The international community has largely condemned this policy as as an egregious breach of human rights laws.

With the Gaza protests approaching their third week, Israeli operations — as well as the world’s tolerance for them — are being put to the test. And so far, Israel seems to be wholly unconcerned about any meaningful backlash from the rest of the world.

Why are Palestinians protesting in the Gaza Strip?

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip — a small spot of land wedged between Israel and Egypt — has been effectively blockaded by its neighbors. Roughly two million Palestinians live here, but over the past decade they’ve been all but cut off from the rest of the world — including from fellow Palestinians in the West Bank. Some critics have come to label the Gaza Strip as the world’s largest open-air prison.

During Israel’s formation, an enormous number of Palestinians were forced to relocate to Gaza. From their perspective, their land has been stolen and their freedoms have been squelched by Israel. As such, today’s demonstrators are demanding the reclamation of Palestinian land.

Why demonstrate now?

It can be argued that these protests are the culmination of the sharp rise in resentment among the Palestinian community since the end of 2017. But what happened to precipitate such renewed ire? In December, with little forewarning, President Trump announced that the United States would both recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and relocate its embassy there. For more background on why these decisions and their significance, you can read about the issue’s nuances here on Care2.

Right now, hospitals in Gaza say they are completely overwhelmed with patients and struggling to make use of their limited medical supplies — a shortage produced by the blockade. Civilians — and even members of the press — are being indiscriminately targeted by Israeli soldiers with live ammunition. Israel is also using snipers; in one instance, a sniper was secretly filmed shooting an unarmed man across the border before cheering.

And by all indications, this will be the reality for the duration of the current unrest — especially given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s praise for the soldiers guarding the border. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

A Human Rights Violation

Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, especially those in the Gaza Strip, has been nothing short of appalling and inhumane. Under these circumstances, it should come as little surprise that protesters are demanding significant change. But Israel’s “shoot first” policy with protesters is antagonistic and a violation of human rights.

There’s absolutely no reason why snipers should be targeting unarmed demonstrators or journalists.

Considering the probable link between the revised U.S. policy on Jerusalem and ongoing unrest, it is the responsibility of the Trump administration — more than any other international leaders — to roundly condemn Israel’s indiscriminate violence.

Take Action!

Tell acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and future Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make it unequivocally clear to Israel that the U.S. does not in approve of the violence toward demonstrators in the Gaza Strip by adding your name to this Care2 petition! Be sure to share it with family, friends and on social media. Together we can make a difference!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

 

Photo Credit: Alisdare Hickson / Flickr

81 comments

Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini1 days ago

Chrissie R
I don't understand what you are trying to say. Could you explain please? Thank you.

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DAVID f
DAVID f2 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R2 days ago

@Brian F. History tells us that Israel won a defensive war when attacked by armies from 13 Arab countries...the same countries that expelled Jews to Israel in the Arab pogroms.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini3 days ago

Brian F
Be realistic. What happens to the inhabitants of the land in Germany where you want to relocate the Jews? Same as the Palestinians?

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Brian F
Brian F4 days ago

Germany should give up land for a Jewish state since it caused the Holocaust, and the deaths of 6 million Jews, and other people. It's really sad that the UN made such a horrible decission in 1947 to give Israel land that belonged to the Palestinians. I can't see the Palestinians accepting a two state solution, when it was their land, to begin with.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 days ago

Just to complete my thought and sorry if I'm being a bore about this:

The mistake the Israelis are making is seriously to underestimate human nature. When human beings are oppressed they rebel. For the past fifty or so years Israel has tried to subdue their neighbours by increasingly suppressing them. Surely after all these years of this policy failing, indeed leading to escalating violence on both sides, it's time for Israel's leaders to realise that more of the same DOES NOT WORK. You will only be able to live in peace with your neighbours when you respect their rights. As I say, it's human nature.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 days ago

Edward Vaughan
You honestly don't know what you are talking about, victim I'm afraid of exactly the propaganda I was mentioning. In this particular instance, Israeli snipers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who were obeying orders and keeping well back from the fence. This is documented FACT. If the more hot-headed Palestinians retaliated, what do you expect? Please do some research into how the Palestinians are treated, expanded settlements on Palestinian territory, air, sea and land blockades, water restrictions, endless check points to get to and from work and so on. The Israelis are the aggressors and the Palestinians fight back as best they can. The Israeli response is to bombard Gaza indiscriminately, destroying homes, schools and hospitals, killing men women and children in an attack that the entire international community condemned as excessive use of power against a defenceless population. So easy to lay the blame for all this on Hamas about which you apparently know only by second hand hearsay. Again, why not do some serious research?
By the way, I am not denying that some Palestinians do bad things, just let's try to get the balance of responsibility into focus.

Brian
Sorry but you are living in cloud cuckoo land if you think it would be possible to send the Israeli population off somewhere else (where?) after all this time. Of course it was the wrong decision in 1947 but somehow it has to be lived with.

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Brian F
Brian F4 days ago

Israel is the problem, and illegally occupies half of the West Bank, and imposes an illegal blockade of Gaza. Israel recently murdered 20 Palestinians for simply protesting. Who wouldn't protest an illegal occupation by an apartheid regime. Annabel I disagree that Israel should not give back all the land. Injustice does not end with time. It was the wrong decision to give Israel 60% of the land in 1947, when the Jews were only 10% of the population in 1900. An alternate homeland should have been allocated for a Jewish state. We cannot solve the problem until we return the land to the Palestinians. The UN does not have the right to take Palestinian land, as it did, when it made the decision in 1947, to create Israel. Israel must return the land it stole, to the Palestinians, and go find another homeland. That is the only solution.

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Edward Vaughn
Edward Vaughn4 days ago

BTW, I forgot to mention this: Take a close look at how much these barbarians care about the environment, polluting the earth with the toxic fumes of burning tires. Yep, these are the people we need to support. (sarcasm alert!)

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Edward Vaughn
Edward Vaughn4 days ago

Hamas is creating this problem. They offer nothing to their people but Jew-hatred. Not jobs, not education, nothing---just the lie that "They are the best people on earth" and that all Jews must be killed. Please note: It isn't Israelis who are attacking, only Muslims. Does that give you a hint to where the problem lies? The world changes. Muslims conquered this land 1400 years ago. Now the Jews are claiming it back. La-la-la. How about Justice for Israel? THEY are the one being attacked.

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