Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Why Are Palestinians Protesting in Gaza?

By Mike Merryman-Lotze | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

Once again, the Israeli military has turned its guns on Gaza — this time on unarmed protestors, in a series of shootings over the last few weeks. Gaza’s already under-resourced hospitals are straining to care for the 1,600 protesters who have been injured, on top of 40 killed.

According to a group of United Nations experts, “there is no available evidence to suggest that the lives of heavily armed security forces were threatened” by the unarmed demonstrators they fired on.

The violence is getting some coverage in the news. But the conditions in Gaza that have pushed so many to protest remain largely invisible. So do their actual demands.

The Great Return March was organized by grassroots groups in Gaza as a peaceful action with three key demands: respect for refugees’ right to return to their homes, an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Seventy years ago, Palestinians were expelled from their homes en masse when their land was seized for the state of Israel. Many became refugees, with millions of people grouped into shrinking areas like Gaza. Fifty years ago, the rest of historic Palestine came under Israeli military occupation.

While these refugees’ right of return has been recognized by the international community, no action has been taken to uphold that right. Meanwhile, the occupation has become further and further entrenched.

For over a decade, the people of Gaza have lived under a military-imposed blockade that severely limits travel, trade, and everyday life for its 2 million residents. The blockade effectively bans nearly all exports, limits imports, and severely restricts passage in and out.

In over 20 visits to Gaza over the last 10 years, I’ve watched infrastructure degrade under both the blockade and a series of Israeli bombings.

Beautiful beaches are marred by raw sewage, which flows into the sea in amounts equivalent to 43 Olympic swimming pools every day. Access to water and electricity continually decreases, hospitals close, school hours are limited, and people are left thirsty and in the dark.

These problems can only be fixed by ending the blockade.

As Americans, we bear direct responsibility for the horrific reality in Gaza. Using our tax money, the U.S. continues to fund the Israeli military through $3.8 billion in aid annually.

A group of U.S.-based faith organizations has called out U.S. silence in a statement supporting protesters and condemning the killings: “The United States stood by and allowed Israel to carry out these attacks without any public criticism or challenge,” they said. “Such U.S. complicity is a continuation of the historical policy of active support for Israel’s occupation and U.S. disregard for Palestinian rights.”

The signatories include the American Friends Service Committee, where I work, an organization that started providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Gaza as far back as 1948.

While the U.S. does give money to the United Nations and international aid groups working in Gaza, it’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to our support of the military laying siege to the territory.

As my colleagues in Gaza have made clear, what they need isn’t more aid. That humanitarian aid is needed because of the blockade. What they need is freedom from the conditions that make life unlivable — like the blockade itself — and a long-term political solution.

Ignoring the reasons Gaza is in crisis only hurts our chances to address this manmade humanitarian horror.

Mike Merryman-Lotze has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as the Palestine-Israel Program Director since 2010.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On eve of rally, Israel threatens to kill Hamas leaders

MEMO | March 29, 2018

Israel on Thursday threatened to assassinate top Hamas leaders in the event of any major “escalations” during mass demonstrations planned for Friday in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“We will not allow Hamas leaders to continue to hide in Gaza while women and children are sent to the border fence,” Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adaree tweeted.

Adaree’s warning comes only one day before planned demonstrations during which Palestinian protesters plan to converge en masse on the Gaza Strip’s roughly 45-kilometer eastern border with Israel.

“If necessary, we will respond — near the fence and inside the Gaza Strip — against those promoting violent demonstrations: the military wing of Hamas,” Adaree said.

All major Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, have endorsed the planned rally, in which thousands of Gazans are expected to participate.

According to organizers, the demonstration — dubbed the “Great Return March” — is to be entirely peaceful in nature.

Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant, however, said: “If the situation on the Gaza border escalates, the assassination of Hamas leaders is an option that remains on the table.”

Speaking to Israel’s Walla news website, he added: “In times of conflict, everything is allowed.”

The planned rallies are intended to pressure Israel to lift its decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip and reaffirm the Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homes in historical Palestine.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

March 29, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel army to use live ammo to disperse border rallies

MEMO | March 28, 2018

The Israeli army will use live ammunition to disperse planned Friday rallies in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel’s army chief-of-staff.

“We are reinforcing the barriers [along the Gaza-Israel border] while large numbers of [Israeli] soldiers will be stationed in the area to prevent infiltration attempts,” Israeli Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Wednesday.

Soldiers have received permission to open fire on protesters “if Israeli security infrastructure comes under threat,” Eizenkot told Israeli daily Maariv.

“Last year, hundreds were injured after they tried to destroy parts of the [border] fence,” he said. “We will not stand for this.”

Speaking to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Eizenkot said the Israeli army had deployed more than 100 sharpshooters in advance of Friday’s planned rallies.

“If lives are in jeopardy, [soldiers will have] permission to open fire,” he said.

Eizenkot made the remarks only two days before planned demonstrations during which Gazan protesters hope to converge en masse on the Gaza Strip’s 45-kilometer eastern border with Israel.

Dubbed the “Great Return March”, the event is intended to pressure Israel to lift its decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip and reaffirm the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes in historical Palestine.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli/Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its more than two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

March 28, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 6 Comments