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Violence in Gaza Today Captures the Attention of…No One

Gaza is back in the headlines, grabbing, if only for a moment, the fickle international spotlight. The two million Palestinians living in the 141-square-mile spit that hugs the Mediterranean have no such luxury. They cannot escape the misery, manufactured by powers greater than themselves, that has been Gaza’s fate for much of the last generation.

Gaza today is a prison, bound to its north by Israel and its south and east by Egypt, both of which for their own reasons are conspiring to continue its penury and isolation. To the west lies the Mediterranean, deceptively open but just as impenetrable. In a faraway time Gaza was once an entrepot—a thriving seaport on the Mediterranean linking the west with the Arab heartland to the east. Its location along the hotly contested Mediterranean coast, where an abundance of natural gas has recently been discovered, is a cruel reminder of what Gaza—which the World Bank warns will be uninhabitable by 2020 if current policies continue—could be.

In recent days 17 Palestinians have been shot and killed [1] by Israeli forces positioned along the 32-mile fortified border separating Israel from the impoverished enclave. An extraordinary 1,416 have been wounded in clashes [2] between Palestinian protesters and the military, including 750 injured by live fire.

The UN Security Council was poised to approve a statement expressing “grave concern at the situation at the border,” reaffirming “the right to peaceful protest” and expressing the Council’s “sorrow at the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.” The draft called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians.” Council members “called upon all sides to exercise restraint and prevent a further escalation,” and endorsed an “independent and transparent investigation” of the confrontations. The U.S. then blocked [3] the approval of the statement.

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“As for a commission of inquiry—there won’t be one,” Minister of Security Avigdor Lieberman flatly stated [4] to Israel Army Radio.” Israeli soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal.”

The scale of the violence, not seen since the war between Israel and Gaza in 2014, even muscled its way into the Pope’s Easter address, which called for “reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.”

The confrontations were the opening volley in planned Palestinian protests that are meant to culminate on May 15 in a massive nonviolent march by Gazans, more than two thirds of whom are refugees or their descendants, across the tense border to Israel.

Those demonstrating opposite Israeli troops are the grandchildren of the refugees memorialized in 1957 [5] by then-chief of staff Moshe Dayan as “a surging sea of hatred and vengeance, yearning for the day that the tranquility blunts our alertness…. Why should we complain of their hatred for us? Eight years have they sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and seen, with their own eyes, how we have made a homeland of the soil and the villages where they and their forebears once dwelt.”

A decade later, Dayan, as minister of security, made the momentous decision to remove the border fences, erasing the border that separated the Palestinians living in the just-conquered Gaza Strip and West Bank from Israel. In 1982, Security Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the removal of the two conscripts manning a portable checkpoint that marked the all-but-invisible border between Israel and Gaza. For a generation, Palestinians traveled all but unhindered across the old border, providing grist for the myth of Israel’s “benevolent occupation.” That all came crashing down in the waning days of 1987, when a traffic accident in Gaza sparked the first intifada (uprising) against Israel.

Thus began decades of restrictions on Palestinian movement that have found their most destructive expression in the permanent siege of Gaza.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon startled many when he ordered the removal of all settlements and troops from Gaza in September 2005, not least PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who never believed until Israeli forces locked the gate at the Karni crossing that Sharon would make good on his promise.

Abbas and most everyone else did not understand that Sharon was not leaving Gaza. He was unilaterally redefining Israel’s relationship with it. Israel, notwithstanding its historic 1993 deal with the PLO, remained an occupying power constrained by its international obligations to safeguard the welfare of the local population. After the Gaza disengagement, Israel unilaterally redefined Gaza as enemy territory, where the rules of war, rather than the obligations of occupation, apply. But for Israel’s retreat, the draconian restrictions on Palestinian movement, production, and commerce, the continuing “siege” on Gazans heartlessly described as a “diet” by a Sharon confidante, would have been all but impossible.

For Israel in this new era, the border with Gaza has become sacrosanct, both as a symbol and as an instrument of Israeli sovereignty—to be defended, as we have seen, without mercy for the refugees pressing against the barbed wire. Palestinians may have no use for a border that constrains them and confers upon them nothing but misery and the bitter memory of their personal and national defeat. The international community is exhausted and bored with the conflict. Even when the Trump White House has an idea—the latest being a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza—it has no enthusiasm for its success. In the absence of any consensual diplomatic process that can offer an alternative, moderating narrative, the “March of Return”—set to culminate on May 15—and Israel’s ferocious defense of the border, will prevail.

Geoffrey Aronson is chairman and co-founder of The Mortons Group and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.

67 Comments (Open | Close)

67 Comments To "Violence in Gaza Today Captures the Attention of…No One"

#1 Comment By Begemot On April 7, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

For those here who have taken a supportive view of Israel and an unsympathetic view of the Palestinians, a question. If it was Palestinians who had caged 2 million Jews in Gaza and blockaded them, shot them whenever they got uppity and rebellious, would you support the Palestinian position, like you support the Israeli today? Or would you be screaming bloody murder about the barbarism of the Palestinians towards the Jews?

#2 Comment By Daniel (not Larrison) On April 7, 2018 @ 11:30 pm

Jeeves wrote:

In just which document is it stated that “refugee” status is heritable.

Well, in that Zionism teaches that if your ancestors lived in a land 2,000 years ago then you have a right to take it back…I’m guessing the document is the Bible.

Oh, wait…that only works for Jewish people. Arabs? Sucks to be you. The statue of limitations is something less than a few decades.

#3 Comment By John Vrolijk On April 8, 2018 @ 2:41 am

So, first you decline your own state. Then you start, and lose, a war.
And than you become a ‘victim’ who still wants to destroy Israel, rocketing and tunneling towards the enemy for decades now instead of developing your own society ?
To me it’s obvious who is the real victim in this one.

#4 Comment By a room of one’s own On April 8, 2018 @ 9:01 am

@Jeeves : “In just which document is it stated that “refugee” status is heritable”

Why, the Bible, for one. There would be no modern Israel if diaspora Jews didn’t believe themselves to be refugees from a land promised to them by God, entitled to live in a land from which they were “exiled” for millenia and countless generations.

So perhaps you will forgive Palestinians for imagining that they are still refugees from lands where their fathers and mothers or grandfathers and grandmothers lived within living memory.

#5 Comment By Jonny v On April 8, 2018 @ 12:34 pm

Peaceful protest??? They are throwing stones, burning tires, and trying to break through the border. Trump already sent troops to the Mexican border and there’s no one there. In Gaza, 20,000 on the border with Hamas’s history of launching missiles, planting IEDs and digging tunnels to Israel. Why wouldn’t they do their “peaceful protest” in Gaza city? Because they want to instigate sending their women and children to fight. If they wanted peace, they could have had it many many times, but they want Israel’s destruction and don’t even care about building up their society, terrible leadership. As Trump would say: Sad!!

#6 Comment By Donald On April 8, 2018 @ 1:02 pm

“Ceaselessly relitigating who SHOULDA won the civil war in British Palestine 70 years ago is, far and away, the most useless approach, yielding the fewest gains, in all of modern politics or activism.”

Ignoring the Nakba is precisely why Israel receives unblinking mindless support in the US. I sometimes see people stating in apparent good faith that Israel’s occupation can’t be the real source of the problem because the PLO and Palestinian terrorism began before 1967. They conclude from this that is is Arab antisemitism that is the real problem. They either don’t know or care that the Palestinians were forcibly expelled and thousands were shot in the late40’s and early 50’s when they tried to return,

We can’t possibly be an honest broker when we adopt the basic Israeli framework that Palestinians had no right to live in their own homeland. But by adopting that framework, we then see the 67 lines as the maximalist Palestinian position and that is portrayed as unreasonable, so then they are asked to give up still more.

I don’t think we can be an honest broker. In a purely accidental way, Trump and Netanyahu have done something constructive by destroying that illusion.

#7 Comment By Harold MacCaughey On April 8, 2018 @ 1:07 pm

What more can be said that the Pro-Israeli absence of media coverage, a Pro-Israeli media bias, is a shameful disgrace.

#8 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 8, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

Not long ago (July 16, 2014) TAC Founding Editor Scott McConnell wrote a column about Israel and Gaza which began like this:

“At this writing, one Israeli has been killed by Hamas fire; hundreds of Hamas rockets have either fallen harmlessly or been destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense. The toll among Palestinians in Gaza is roughly 200 dead, and about 1,500 wounded. This then is not so much a war as a high-tech slaughter. Israel could kill Palestinians more rapidly of course, but seems to have judged it can go on at this pace, killing 15 to 20 a day, without provoking an international reaction. For some Israelis it is pure entertainment: yesterday The Independent reported that Israelis had set up couches and were serving popcorn to watch their air force’s destruction of Gaza’s homes from the nearby hills.”

#9 Comment By Thaddeus Kozinski On April 8, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

The Gaza protestors deserve the support of Christians. Israel deserves our condemnation and its leaders should be tried and convicted for deliberate mass murder. Those Christians who parrot Israeli propaganda are endorsing murder and apartheid.

#10 Comment By Donnie Bob On April 8, 2018 @ 4:03 pm

This article poses the basic question about why the latest Palestinian Arab provocation and the lethal Israeli reaction to it have generated so little interest in the wider world. I offer a simple answer.

This event is essentially just like the previous Palestinian Arab provocation and the Israeli reaction that followed it, which, of course, was just like the Palestinian Arab provocation prior to that, and the Israeli reaction to it, following as it did the Palestinian Arab provocation before that, and the Israeli reaction to it, etc., etc.

Some of us are slow learners, but more and more of us have started to figure out that all of this is little more than a sick game that the Palestinian Arabs are playing, and we no longer have any interest is playing along with them as the attentive and sympathetic audience they so desperately want us to be.

If the Palestinian Arabs want to continue to provoke the Israelis and then to get one beat-down after another, so be it. Sometimes you just have to let people get what they ask for, however insane it may be.

#11 Comment By Ole Glory On April 8, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

@TTT – “And it’s pretty clearly a go-nowhere red herring in all discussions of real issues today. “How should or shouldn’t Israel guard its borders?” “Well you see first Israel should be erased from history…” This pointless, negationist fabulism is the reason why there is no Palestinian state. “

The biggest red herring of all is the assumption that America cares or should be involved in any of this. Articles like this and the accompanying comments create the false impression that Americans care about this. They don’t. Americans aren’t talking about the rights and wrongs of Israel/Palestine at the corner bar, or Starbucks, or the office water cooler, and not too many are even talking about it on social media. Regular Americans don’t care about this fight or who wins it, and in the last election they voted to get our people out of the Middle East.

#12 Comment By John Blade Wiederspan On April 8, 2018 @ 10:43 pm

The reason no cares about the violence is that it is yesterday’s news, and last week’s and last month’s and last year’s and the past…..how many decades? Both sides firmly, self righteously believe they are in the right and anything they do to their enemy is fully justified. Violence without end, amen.

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 9, 2018 @ 9:07 am

“The problems aren’t so much with Phil Giraldi’s columns, per se, often extremely insightful. It’s when it verges on a monomania…” (Fran Macadam, April 7 2:09 am)

“Monomania”? Philip’s columns “verge on monomania”? Of the 75 articles that Philip posted at TAC in 2016 and 2017 only four (July 28, May 3 and May 12, 2017; April 6 2016) had anything to do with Israel.

Philip’s years of experience with the CIA gave him unique and valuable insights into dozens of topics of vital interest to Americans – information that Philip passed along to TAC readers:

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#14 Comment By paradoctor On April 10, 2018 @ 3:47 pm

Gayle:
TL;DR.

#15 Comment By paradoctor On April 10, 2018 @ 3:48 pm

If you like law, or nations, or sausage, then don’t watch them being made.

#16 Comment By virginian no. 9 On April 10, 2018 @ 7:08 pm

Don’t confuse the hasbara with facts, Kurt. It makes you look naive.

#17 Comment By Going My Way On June 1, 2018 @ 12:39 am

Some of the insensitive comments (with crocodile tears of equivocation) about the suffering in the Gaza are beyond the pale. If we forget Gaza we forget our morality.