Abbas is pissed, meaning more violence in Gaza

Our media coverage of events in Gaza falls so short of being factual it’s actually laughable. Al Jazeera reports on the latest round of violence in Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority has declared Saturday a day of national mourning after 17 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as thousands marched near Gaza’s border with Israel in a major demonstration marking the 42nd anniversary of Land Day.

“Schools, universities, as well as all government institutions, across the country will be off on Saturday, as per President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to declare a day of national mourning for the souls of the martyrs,” a statement issued on Friday said.

Organisers of Friday’s march, dubbed “the Great Return March”, said the main message of the demonstration was to call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Some 70 percent of Gaza’s two million population are descendants of Palestinians who were driven from their homes in the territories taken over by Israel during the 1948 war, known to Arabs as the Nakba.

Gaza peaceful protest image Times of Israel

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City on December 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED

That old chestnut keeps getting rolled out that Israelis forced Palestinians to flee.  It is arguable most left when warned by the invading five Arab nations to flee from Israel or be crushed in their attempt to annihilate Israel 70 years ago.  Rather than blame their own forbears they expect Israel to take the blame, again!

But let’s look at a version of recent events from the other side of the fence as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

Hamas called on Gazans to participate in a protest that is slated to begin on Friday near the border with Israel. The protest, which is scheduled to last six weeks, aims to achieve the return of Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) to their former homes and villages in Israel, according to organizers. Hamas also called for protesters to commit to “peacefulness” during the protest and “avoid any behavior that could cause it to deviate from its goal.” Hamas rarely makes explicit calls on Palestinians to adhere to peaceful protest and frequently advocates for violence against Israelis.

All in agreement so far, a peaceful protest from “peace loving” Hamas.

Israel has accused Hamas of orchestrating the protest. However, Ahmad Abu Ratima, an organizer of the protest, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Hamas is only one of many parties organizing the event. Abu Ratima said that the protest will be “nonviolent and peaceful.”We have even decided that no rocks will be thrown,” he said. Abu Ratima also said the protest on Friday will take place some 700 meters away from the border fence. However, he said that at a later date in the coming weeks, the protest’s leadership could decide to call on protesters to approach the fence.

So both accounts record a peaceful protest well away from the Israeli border, with not even a rock to be thrown in anger, and the IDF warn what will happen if the peaceful protest becomes life threatening to Israelis.

Several Israeli officials have said security forces will respond forcefully to anyone who threatens Israeli lives. “If there will be a danger to lives, we will authorize live fire,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said in interviews published in several Hebrew newspapers on Wednesday. “The orders are to use a lot of force.”

Now that we know 17 Palestinians died, what went wrong?

On Friday at least 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces confronting protesters. The military said some had shot at them, rolled burning tyres and hurled rocks and fire bombs towards troops across the border.

This is far from a peaceful protest.  The IDF also claims to have foiled four attempts by armed militants to cross into Israel under cover of Palestinian protesters.

Hamas said five of them were members of its armed wing. Israel said eight of the 15 dead belonged to Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Israel and the West, and two others belonged to other militant groups. Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered on Friday along the fenced 65-km (40-mile) frontier, where tents had been erected for a planned six-week protest pressing for a right of return for refugees and their descendents to what is now Israel. But hundreds of Palestinian youths ignored calls from the organisers and the Israeli military to stay away from the frontier and violence broke out. Israeli military spokesman Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis said Hamas was using the protests as a guise to launch attacks against Israel and ignite the area. He said violence was likely to continue along the border until May 15. “We won’t let this turn into a ping-pong zone where they perpetrate a terrorist act and we respond with pinpoint action. If this continues we will have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip,” Manelis told reporters.

The Jerusalem Post describes the return of a seven year old Palestinian girl found on the Israeli side of the fence.  Hard to imagine how a seven year old scaled that formidable border fence on her own; perhaps she chanced upon a tunnel and ventured through it alone?

Hamas sent a seven-year-old girl across the Gaza border fence, said the IDF on Friday afternoon. “A seven-year-old Palestinian girl was sent by Hamas across the fence, opposite IDF soldiers. “IDF forces immediately recognized that it was a girl and ensured that she returned safely to her parents. “The Hamas terror organization uses women and children in a cynical manner, sending them to the fence and threatening their lives.”

Woman injured at Gaza border a day ago Image

Getting to the heart of the matter is the United States’s 50% funding cut to the United Nations Works Relief Agency which supports Palestine.  This followed the threat by President Trump in the event Abbas would not commit to discussions on a two-state solution. No idle threat and Abbas is pissed.  Nikki Haley also embarrassed the Palestinians at the United Nations when she said she would not “shut up” regarding recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas in his usual fashion is using Palestinian women, children and youth as cannon fodder to instigate violence resulting in Palestinian death and injury. Abbas must be delighted at the number of fatalities from this latest round of “peaceful” protest near Gaza’s border.  No doubt the martyrs will have streets named after them and their families financially compensated by Hamas for the supreme gift of their young lives to the cause.  But better still, Mahmoud Abbas is back to pleading innocence and demanding protection from the United Nations and the Security Council.  It is, after all, a peaceful protest on the Gaza side of the border, and someone’s gotta pay for Israeli aggression, right?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “independent and transparent investiation” and reaffirmed “the readiness” of the world body to revitalise peace efforts.

However, Mansour al-Otaibi, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the UN, issued a statement criticising the Security Council’s for failing to take action against Israel. “People in occupied Palestine are disappointed that the Security Council met, but did not take action yet to stop this massacre and to hold those responsible to account.”

Same ol, same ol, some things never change.  Fortunately, the US is now a voice of reason on the international stage, especially at the UN, and Abbas is clearly worried people might start listening.

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