Tale of an atrocity foretold: the latest Israeli atrocity in Gaza

There are a few important points that should be made about the murder of some 16 Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, and the injuring of over 1000. That is:

  1. The protest was explicitly planned to be a large, non-violent demonstration.
  2. Israel responded by openly trying to intimidate protesters, threatening large-scale use of force, and the deployment of snipers.
  3. Israel openly planned for this use of force against those protesters.
  4. Aside from the death and injury toll, there is video footage of unarmed, unthreatening Palestinians being shot by Israeli forces.

I’ll take these points up in turn:

Intended to be non-violent protest

Organisers planned their march to stay 700m from the Israeli forces, and the border. Organisers told Ha’aretz their goal was “to present the Palestinians’ case to the world and not to engage in confrontations with the Israeli army. Hamas will deploy patrol units in the area to prevent marchers from approaching the border, he added.” Get that? Hamas was specifically going to try to prevent any confrontation. In an interview with +972, an organiser stressed the plan was to stay non-violent, and avoid confronting Israeli fores, or even getting close to them. He also argued that Hamas wasn’t involved in organising the protest, though they were supportive of it.

Israel responds by threatening force, and other intimidation

The Israeli Defence Minister, the guy who is in charge of the Israeli army, is Avigdor Lieberman. Before the protest occurred, he issued a threat on twitter: “The leadership of Hamas is playing with your lives. Anyone who comes close to the [border] fence today puts himself at risk. I suggest to you to continue your lives and not participate in a provocation,” Lieberman wrote.

The Israeli army admitted on Arabic language TV that they had contacted bus company owners and threatened them if they transported people to the protest. They said, “ We’ve contacted more than 20 bus companies in Gaza who received money from Hamas to transport people to the violent demonstrations and we warned that they would take personal steps against the owners of the companies.”

Israel plans to use force, building mounds for snipers

The threats by Lieberman were no joke. As reported in Ha’aretz, “ Bulldozers were at work until Thursday evening to raise high mounds of earth near points where Palestinian protesters are expected to approach Friday during a march to the border fence”.

Journalist Sol Salbe posted these pictures of the mounds of earth created for Israeli snipers.

Mounds for snipers

Ha’aretz report goes on: “More than 100 snipers are backing up IDF forces along the border. Over the last few months, the approval of a brigade commander was required to open fire in a situation where there was no threat of life in protests along the border fence. But on Friday, orders to open fire can come from lower ranking officers.”

Let us review. In advance of the protest, Israel specifically used bulldozers to set up mounds for Israeli snipers. It loosened the restrictions on the use of fire “where there was no threat of life”, so that the order for that kind of fire “can come from lower ranking officers.”

Unarmed Palestinians being shot by distant Israeli forces

Here you can see a Palestinian man, totally isolated, walking by himself. He’s then shot.

Here you can see a kid running with a tire. He’s running away from Israeli forces, to the Palestinian crowd. He’s also shot.

There’s also other unpleasant scenes, like Israeli soldiers preventing medics from evacuating injured Palestinians. A longer round up of social media content was provided by Robert Mackey. (the medics video may not embed, it’s on the medics link in the first sentence of this paragraph)

Photos show the protest had a very large turnout.

Israeli human rights group condemned the murders: “ Shooting unarmed demonstrators is illegal and the command that allows it is manifestly illegal”. This refers to a famous judgment from decades ago, where the Israeli Supreme Court established the duty of soldiers to refuse to obey commands with a “black flag” flying over them.

The Israeli army itself admitted it in advance, and afterwards too. They sent out this tweet, which they deleted for some mysterious reason (h/t B’Tselem)

from B’tselem

To review: the Palestinians organised a huge non-violent demonstration, and craffully avoided clashing with the Israeli army. Israel responded by injuring over a thousand, and shooting on camera isolated and unarmed Palestinians hundreds of metres from their soldiers, posing no threat. They announced in advance that they would do so, that protesters were risking their lives, and created mounds for snipers to shoot Palestinians.

There is no mystery here. It is all clear, and announced.

As for Australian reactions?

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had nothing to say.

Same with Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong

However, a few weeks ago the UN Human Rights Council voted on some resolutions, dealing with issues like Palestinian self-determination, and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Australia voted against four of the motions, and abstained on the other one. Otherwise they overwhelmingly passed.

this is virtually the only media coverage of our vote (they are wrong about Australia voting against all 5)