The ‘Great March of Return’ Massacre
My speech on Saturday 7th April at the vigil for Palestinian victims killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza
Last Friday, 30th March which we know and celebrate as our ‘Good Friday’, 15 unarmed Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza were fatally wounded by snipers in the Israeli Occupying Forces as they were non-violently protesting their right of return as refugees to their homes. Others later succumbed to their injuries; over 1400 more were injured, the majority of which by live ammunition.
This ‘right of return’, for which they were protesting, is enshrined in international law in both the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in numerous UN Resolutions, some written immediately after the Nakba of 1948 and reaffirmed in subsequent councils.
Israel claims as it always does “self-defence”, but let us consider the facts:
1. Days before the protest for ‘land day’ which has been an annual commemoration since the 30th March 1976, when Israel killed 6 Palestinian youths at a mass peaceful protest in Galilee, organised in response to the mass appropriation by Israel of ancestral land; Israel had already declared the march to be violent before it had even taken place and used the usual argument of Hamas organising the event, despite the political group stating they had had minimal involvement. Even if it had been approved by Hamas, this does not change the fact that the civilians were unarmed.
2. Israel deployed 100 Israeli Snipers against an unarmed civilian population living in the biggest open-air prison in the world, a people that have no tanks, no F16s, no drones, no tear gas and a negligible army, if it can even be described as that.
3. Israeli snipers shot dead an unarmed farmer the morning of the 30th, before the march had even commenced
4. Footage, which I personally was watching live with horror, demonstrates that the victims posed no risk to the Israeli soldiers or indeed the fence imprisoning the Palestinians; what it shows is Palestinians being shot in the back whilst running or walking away from the fence; one of these a young man, Abdul Al Fatr, had nothing but a tyre as he was shot in the back, another Palestinian held nothing at all. We also witnessed a female waving nothing more threatening than a Palestinian flag when being shot.
5. Israel claims that they were protecting their borders, despite the fact that firstly, Israel, subsequent to 1948, has never defined its borders, they are the ONLY nation in the world to not have done this and secondly the Israeli snipers were positioned on Palestinian land recognised internationally as being occupied, land beyond the ‘green line’. Even if some believe there to be any weight in the argument of concerns regarding the fence that illegally imprisons the Gazans being damaged, the victims were all over 100 metres away from it when being shot.
6. The fact of the matter is that the visual evidence from the day, was that the 30K strong crowd were UNARMED! They were met with live ammunition, including bullets called “butterfly” bullets, which explode upon impact with a victim, rubber coated steel bullets, with drones dropping tear gas. There is no argument of defence when you illegally besiege a people and open fire on UNARMED PALESTINIANS.
This massacre led Jewish Israeli Journalist for the Haaretz newspaper, Gideon Levy to dub Israeli Occupying Forces “the Israeli Massacre Forces”.
A fact which is very important for us to remember is that Israel perceives Palestinian’s very existence as a threat … because when you build a racist colonialist ethnostate and subject the indigenous people to a brutal apartheid and occupation, your nation’s foundations will never be secure, as those who are oppressed will always fight for their right to self-determination, to be free, to live as equals and to live with dignity as was the case with African slaves, with Jim Crow’s segregated America, with Black South Africa and all other indigenous people around the world. Who of us would accept living in these conditions and accept anything less than being granted the fundamental rights of any human being on this planet?!
Israel’s obsession with maintaining a Jewish majority to enable its control means that every single Palestinian born is an existential threat and thus a “terrorist” and here lies the root of all Israel’s responses, no matter whether Palestinians have chosen armed resistance against their oppressors, or non-violent. We have heard people, often Israeli apologists, ask: Where is the Palestinian’s Ghandhi?… well, along with the likes of Issa Amro, Iyad Burnat, Ahed Tamimi and many others, they were out there protesting on Friday, 30th March and plan to continue to do so for the next 6 weeks leading up to the 70th Anniversary of the Nakba, but As Israel’s most senior defense policy official once famously told American diplomats “we don’t do Gandhi very well.” Israeli security forces Defense Ministry policy chief, Amos Gilad, explained that they don’t really have the means or patience to suppress mass, nonviolent Palestinian protests without employing disproportionate violence themselves, nor are they willing to allow such protests to occur without being suppressed.
Some in Israel have tried to say that the killing of unarmed protesters was accidental, but all we need to do is consider the tweet by the official IDF twitter account, which was deleted shortly after being used by human rights groups to prove false these claims:
“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people, we arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.” Let that sink in…“everything was accurate and measured”, no death of a Palestinian was accidental it was absolutely deliberate, it was premeditated murder.
So what has happened since last Friday? Well, as is the usual case, the UN called for an investigation in to the deaths, which has been vetoed by the US, we see mainstream media woefully failing in its duties to report the truth, we hear and read of “clashes”, a suggestion of some kind of equivalence. How can there be equivalence when one side are unarmed civilians protesting their right to exist as all human beings, who are merely calling for Israel to comply with International Law and the other side being the 4th most equipped army in the world and more than that, they are OCCUPYING FORCES.
Would we accept as Jersey folk the suggestion of some kind of equivalence in actions of those who resisted our Occupation in the 1940s and those that occupied us?
WE WOULD NOT!
There is no doubt this was a wholesale massacre. If we are confused whether this is the right description, then we can look at history and also ask, would it be reported in this manner if this was Russians killing protesters? Or even if Palestinians had opened fire in this way on Jews that run through East Jerusalem shouting ‘death to Arabs’, as they frequently do during Jewish holidays.
Palestinians have been allowed to be dehumanised to the extent that their murder does not even warrant a mention, never mind provoking an outcry by those in positions of power in the International Community and what of the liberal interventionists of the world?… their silence is deafening!
During this week I read of some pressure being but on Israel to try to exercise some restraint, however, an official in the Israeli Forces was said to have stated that Palestinian loss of life was a price he was willing to pay and this is the point, that Israel pays no price for its crimes, it commits them with utter impunity as the International Community do nothing other than issue hollow condemnations, it is only ever the Palestinians that pay the price, too often with their very lives. Yesterday after another protest the numbers of lives taken goes up, with 9 more deaths, including 13year old Hussein Mohammad Adnan Madi, 15yr old Aladdin Yahia Ismail Zamali and journalist, Yaser Murtaja.
Well ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
What can we do? as it is clear that the hope of change needs to be driven by us as ordinary people.
We need to raise awareness… challenge the mainstream media’s narrative through complaints to them, as I did recently to the BBC and by sharing on social media reports by Human Rights groups and articles by groups such as Btselem, Human Rights Watch, Electronic Intifada, 972 Mag and others, for anyone interested we share countless articles from respected sources on both our FB page ‘Jersey Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ and on our Twitter account: @Jerseypsc
We can educate others, our friends, family members and others, not harass them, but when it is appropriate raise the subject, or challenge inaccuracies.
We can sign petitions, of course we have our group’s Child Prisoners petition, but there are many online, most recently one directed to Boris Johnson asking him to intervene.
We can write to our States Members and ask them to condemn this massacre.
I saw this week in the JEP the demand for the island to sanction Russia…. Well I say the time to sanction Israel is long overdue! We need to start setting our bar a little higher in terms of who we do business with as an island, yes that includes Saudi Arabia, but absolutely this must include Israel. Oppression must be called out no matter who the perpetrator or the victim and we should certainly not find ourselves as enablers of oppression and war crimes; enough of building our economy on the backs of the oppressed.
We say to you in Palestine, the brave resisters and those just trying to endure, we hear your voices, we stand in solidarity with you, as we do with courageous Israelis breaking ranks to do likewise.
We demand for the Palestinians, freedom from occupation and apartheid now! we demand justice — The right of refugees to return, we demand full and equal democratic rights under the law. We demand Israel immediately comply with International law and remind them that you will never be free until the Palestinians are.
And we stand here along with millions around the world as a testament to the fact that you, Israel, will not be allowed to keep committing your crimes with impunity and that regardless of what mainstream media and the international community imply through their disgraceful reporting and failure to meet their obligations both morally and under international law…. PALESTINIAN LIVES MATTER.