On Friday, March 30, Israeli forces opened fire on thousands of unarmed Palestinians at a non-violent protest along Gaza’s border with Israel.
According to available reports, at least fifteen protesters were killed by Israeli troops. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that 805 were wounded by live ammunition. Over 1,400 were injured—with bullets, tank rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas. On Saturday, March 31, 49 more unarmed demonstrators were wounded by Israeli fire.
This massacre is taking place in the context of the Trump/Pence regime’s bellicose posture in the Middle East, its unqualified support for Israel, and its decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, signaling its full backing for even more genocidal Israeli assaults on the Palestinian people.
Premeditated Mass Murder
Israel immediately claimed the protest was a “terror gathering” and that the Palestinians had initiated the violence. These are lies.
The evidence—including Israel’s own words—overwhelmingly points to Israel’s attack being unprovoked, premeditated mass murder to terrorize the Palestinian people from holding a non-violent demonstration.
On Friday, some 30,000 Palestinians had gathering for the first day of a planned six-week encampment and protest. They were demanding that Palestinian refugees have the “Right of Return” to land stolen from them during the 1948 war to found Israel and over the decades since. Thousands of Palestinians also turned out because Israel and Egypt’s crippling, 11-year long blockade has turned their lives into an intolerable hell, and they’re demanding that it be lifted.
In the days before this planned gathering, Israel’s military unilaterally declared that Palestinians could not gather—on their own land!—within 300 meters of the Gaza’s border with Israel or they’d be shot. The day before the protest, an Israeli government official used video of an unarmed Palestinian being shot in order to “threaten Gazans,” according to an Israeli human rights activist.
Israel also pre-positioned military forces on the border, including some 100 snipers, as well as tanks and helicopters.
Then, on March 30, before dawn and before the protests had begun, a Palestinian was murdered by tank fire while working on his farm near the border. The Israelis claim he was acting “suspiciously.” He was picking parsley.
During the protest, demonstrators were being hit by Israeli bullets hundreds of yards from the border fence. One video shows Abdul Fattah Abdul Nabi, an unarmed 19-year-old, being shot in the back of the head by Israeli snipers. He didn’t have a gun or a Molotov cocktail, he was only carrying a tire. “Does that harm the Israelis, a tire?” his brother Mohamed Abdul Nabi asked. “He wasn’t going toward the Israeli side. He was running away.”
One 20-year-old had just arrived at the protest. “He asked for a cigarette, I gave it to him, he had two puffs, and then he was shot in the head,” his brother told the Washington Post. “He’d only been there 10 minutes.”
One protester tweeted, “I was there we were protesting peacefully and Israeli were shooting directly toward us!!” The New York Times reported an 18-year-old protester saying that “holding a Palestinian flag in one hand and a rock in the other would be enough to get him killed by an Israeli soldier.” Some Palestinians threw stones to signify this was their land. But as one demonstrator said, “The stones never even reached the fence.”
“We Know Where Every Bullet Landed”
Afterward, the Israeli Army posted the following message—seen and screen copied by an Israeli human rights activist—before the Army quickly removed it:
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.
Read this again. It is nothing less than an admission of, taking credit for, and bragging about carrying out a pre-planned massacre.
This was underscored by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who declared: “Well done to our soldiers.”
Murder and Terror to Silence Exposure of Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinians
Why did Israel carry out this savage, blatant massacre? For one reason, the Gaza protest was putting before the whole world the core truths and core crimes of Israel’s founding in 1948: the violent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands—lands their forebears had inhabited for centuries. Most of Gaza’s two million inhabitants are refugees from the 1948 war or descendants of those refugees. The first day of protest took place on the 42nd anniversary of Land Day, a day of remembrance of Israel’s murder on March 30, 1976 of six Palestinians protesting the theft of their land in northern Israel.
The six-week protest and encampment is due to culminate with a “Great March of Return” on May 15—the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 founding as a settler outpost for imperialism, a date Palestinians mark as the Nakba (“the catastrophe”).
This history and Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people have been relentlessly suppressed and lied about. This six-week encampment is shining a global spotlight on it at a time when more and more people around the world are protesting and questioning Israel’s apartheid atrocities.
The six-week protest encampment would also highlight the ongoing crime of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, a small, isolated section of Palestine on the border with Egypt. This blockade has collapsed Gaza’s economy and turned this 25-mile long, 5-mile wide strip of land into an open-air prison. Palestinians have been robbed of jobs, electricity, freedom of movement, the minimum requirements of survival, and any future, leaving them with barely enough to survive. The blockade has created a “humanitarian crisis” that has already killed more than 1,000 Palestinians.
“Life in Gaza is hard,” Atef Abu Saif writes in a devastating portrayal in the New York Times. “Then it gets worse and we think it’s intolerable. Then it gets even worse.”
Israeli activist and author Miko Peled argues the blockade has “a very clear intent, to see the people of Gaza die a slow death and we’re talking about 2 million people.” (See Peled’s interview on The Michael Slate Show.)
America’s Hands Dripping With Palestinian Blood—Trump/Pence Give Green Light for Far Worse
Israel has carried on ongoing violent ethnic cleansing, including spasms of mass murder and massacres from the Nakba to the latest massacre in Gaza. The U.S. rulers—whether Democrats or Republicans are in power—have staunchly backed Israel (whatever tactical or face-saving criticisms they occasionally raise) for decades, and they have rivers of Palestinian tears—and blood—dripping from their hands.
But now, as part of his America First fascist agenda to more violently and directly impose U.S. dominance around the world, Trump has loudly signaled that Israel has a green light to do whatever it chooses, and there will be no criticism—even the kinds of tactical critiques or differences that have sometimes come up between this attack dog and its U.S. master.
The message of U.S. support for Israel’s escalating ethnic cleansing was sent loud and clear by the pending transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is due to take place on or near May 15—the day Palestinians commemorate the Nakba. (See A Dangerous Escalation: Trump Plans to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem) And following this latest massacre, the U.S. representative at the UN blamed the Palestinians, saying that “bad actors” were using the “protests as a cover to incite violence” and “endanger innocent lives.”
Israel’s massacre is taking place in the context of ominous U.S. moves in the Middle East (and around the world). Trump is targeting Iran, and on May 12 he may break out of the nuclear deal the U.S. signed with Iran and other global powers—a deal Netanyahu and other powerful forces in Israel have opposed. This would radically escalate tensions in the region, and possibly lead to a U.S.-Israeli war on Iran.
Israel’s deliberate, pre-planned March 30 massacre, as well as its threats to “expand” its attacks if Palestinians continue to protest, is aimed at terrorizing the masses of Palestinians and people across the region, ahead of the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and the possibility greater U.S.-Israeli crimes to come.
Palestinians have denounced Israel’s mass killing as a crime and are demanding justice. All people of conscience, no matter where they are, should join them in loudly and unequivocally condemning Israel’s massacre!
Revolution newspaper/revcom.us, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, provides the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the whole process of carrying out our strategy for revolution. Through publishing works of Bob Avakian, and through many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, Revolution enables people to really understand, and act to radically change, the world.
Originally published at revcom.us