Monday, April 2, 2018

Daniel Amir: Gaza protests another example of how the Israeli right is immune to criticism // Juan Cole - Shooting Protesters in Cold Blood: How Israel became a Typical Middle Eastern Dictatorship

 On Friday, as Jewish people prepared to celebrate Passover and Christians gathered for Easter, tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip participated in largely non-violent protests as part of the Great Return March. Palestinian participants began walking towards the fence that separates the strip from Israel and were met with live fire that saw hundreds of people injured and 16 killed. 

The protests were held to commemorate Land Day and demonstrate for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be resettled in Israel. Israel’s response was that Hamas, which controls the strip, had “cynically” sent women and children to the fence as a human shield. Rather than expressing the grievances of Palestinians at large, then, the protests were to be seen in the context of long-standing tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. 

The ever-deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the stagnation of negotiations for a lasting solution for peace in the region, Israel argued, were less relevant.  The Israeli response drew widespread criticism around the world, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling for an independent inquiry into Friday’s events. But Israel has already hardened itself against such international attention. As a focus on Hamas in its narrative of the march shows, the Israeli right constantly strives to portray a naive international community that fails to appreciate the existential threat the country must face. .. read more:

Some information for Israelis (and the rest of us)

Shooting Protesters in Cold Blood: How Israel became a Typical Middle Eastern Dictatorship

The Israeli army snipers who were ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian protesters last Friday at the Gaza border, killing 17 outright and wounding hundreds of others, were acting according to the contemporary script of Middle Eastern dictators. The Israeli army initially admitted in a tweet that the tactic was premeditated and precise, but then deleted the tweet, as the Israeli peace group B’tselem pointed out

Sociologists who study how people mobilize to challenge an oppressive situation have noted that one possible response of any regime under pressure from below is to raise the cost to dissidents of their social action. Imposing the death penalty is of course the ultimate in raising such costs. But randomly shooting into crowds is more than just threatening people with death. It is a means of terrorizing the dissidents. Simply taking hundreds of people out and executing them has dangers as a course of action for the oppressive rulers, as well, inasmuch as it threatens to create large numbers of martyrs and impel reprisals. Moreover, large massacres can impose costs on the regime in the form of boycotts from other states or civil society actors. Randomly shooting into a crowd, killing a few people but wounding many others, has the advantage for the regime of creating uncertainty and fear.

This tactic was deployed during the youth protests of 2011. Secret police in Tunisia shot into peaceful rallies in provincial towns in late December 2010 and early January 2011 and then denied it and ordered the state press not to cover it. Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni took her smartphone to the hospitals down there and got pictures of and interviews with the victims and put them up at her blog (very bravely, since the regime could have direly punished her; but it fell before it could do so).