“We have a right to defend ourselves” just as any other sovereign nation, proclaims Israel’s leaders as they give the order to use lethal force against peaceful protesters on the other side of the fence with Gaza.
Whether Israel is correct depends on two things:
(1) Does international human rights law apply to these facts or international humanitarian law (rules of war)? The question has been presented to Israel’s High Court of Justice.
Michael Lynk, the special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, said the killings on Monday reflected a “blatant excessive use of force by Israel” and likened them to “an eye for an eyelash.”
Mr. Lynk said that protesters appeared to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side. Under humanitarian law, he said, the killing of unarmed demonstrators could amount to a war crime, and he added that “impunity for these actions is not an option.”
(2) Is the fence between Gaza and Israel an international border or a fence separating two groups of people who each claim sovereignty over their territory?
You would be excused if you erroneously thought the fence was an international border because much of the mainstream media has adopted Israel’s framing of the issue. Israel wants us to believe it has a border with Gaza; that since its withdrawal in 2005 the Gaza Strip is no longer occupied territory; and the fence represents an inviolable demarcation between Israel and “those people we prefer to call Arabs, not Palestinians.”
If Israel’s argument was correct, then the right to defend that border might have some merit, leaving aside the important issues of “Right of Return” and method of defense.
However, we succumb to Israel’s narrative at the expense of jettisoning the law of belligerent occupation, international humanitarian law and the facts that led to the establishment of Israel 70 years ago.
The current borders of the State of Israel are a result of war and of diplomatic agreements. The borders with Jordan and Egypt have been confirmed by peace treaties. The border with Lebanon resulted from the 1949 Armistice Agreement. The borders with Syria and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have never been settled. In fact, Israeli Legislators have been passing laws to unilaterally extend Israel’s sovereignty into the West Bank, and they claim they no longer occupy the Gaza Strip. The U.N. and the international community have not recognized Israel’s unilateral pronouncements.
It’s time the mainstream media got the facts straight. Words matter.
Since the State of Israel does not have an internationally recognized border with the Palestinians in Gaza, the actions of both the Israeli military and the Palestinian protesters take on a significantly different cast.
The Palestinians are not trying to cross an inviolable border but rather exercising their Right of Return enshrined in Resolution 194 adopted by the United Nations on December 11, 1948.
The Israeli military is not protecting its sovereign border but rather killing unarmed protesters that have been caged in the world’s largest open air prison.
The State of Israel may have superior military weapons, thanks in large measure to American taxpayers, but we should not capitulate to Israel’s false narrative.
There is no internationally recognized border between Israel and Gaza. It’s just a fence; actually two fences. The New York Times is beginning to set the record straight. (May 16, 2018)