On Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered in Gaza for the funeral of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was fatally shot by the Israeli army while covering a fresh round of deadly protests along the Israel-Gaza border. Photos show the 30-year-old journalist was wearing a flak jacket clearly marked ”PRESS” at the time of the shooting. He’s one of at least nine Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during its brutal crackdown against Friday’s protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed 31 people in total since Palestinians kicked off a 6-week-long nonviolent protest late last month, dubbed “The Great March of Return.” Both the International Criminal Court and the United Nations have rebuked Israel in recent days and warned its actions on the border could violate international human rights conventions. For more, we continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: On Saturday, hundreds of mourners gathered in Gaza for the funeral of Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, who was fatally shot by the Israeli army while covering a fresh round of daily protests along the Israeli-Gaza border. Photos show the 30-year-old journalist was wearing a flak jacket clearly marked ”PRESS” at the time of the shooting. He’s one of at least nine Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army during its brutal crackdown against Friday’s protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces have killed 31 people in total since Palestinians kicked off a 6-week-long nonviolent protest late last month, dubbed “The Great March of Return.”
AMY GOODMAN: Both the International Criminal Court and the United Nations have rebuked Israel in recent days and warned its actions on the border could violate international human rights conventions.
We are continuing our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Glenn, can you talk about what’s happened in Gaza over the last two weeks, with Avigdor Lieberman, the high-level Israeli official, saying that no Gazan is innocent?
GLENN GREENWALD: I think it’s just time to acknowledge and accept the reality of what Israel is. Whatever you thought of Israel in the past, believing that it was some kind of bastion of liberal democracy in the Middle East, that it was surrounded by primitive brutal enemies, all the propaganda, what’s clear now is that Israel is something quite different than all of that. And even people who once believed that are now starting to come and see that Israel is an apartheid, rogue, terrorist state. The conduct that it engages in, continually and without apology, proudly, and the comments that it makes, including the one you just referenced from the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who said there are no innocent people in Gaza, which is basically the mentality of a genocidal maniac, is reflective of what Israel is.
And I think the context here is so critical, which is that a lot of people have come to realize that Benjamin Netanyahu is this far-right, bloodthirsty, militaristic figure. And what’s amazing about it is that in the context of Israeli politics, Benjamin Netanyahu resides in the center of Israeli politics, if not almost now on the left. There’s very little political force to his left. All the political force is to his right. The younger generation of Israeli leaders think that Netanyahu is too moderate, that he’s too centrist, that he’s too soft on the Palestinians. They don’t believe in a Palestinian state. They don’t pretend to support the two-state solution. They want to dominate that land forever. They believe they’re religiously entitled to it. They want to—basically, they believe in apartheid, a policy of apartheid, forever suppressing what is soon to be the majority, the Palestinians, ruled by a minority of Israelis, using whatever war crimes and slaughter and murder they need to in order to suppress and intimidate that population.
And if seeing the Israeli military gun down children on a Gazan beach in 2014 while they played soccer, or end the life of a journalist on purpose, who is wearing a press jacket, by putting a bullet in him, through a sniper, doesn’t show you what the Israeli government really is, what will? And I think the question now is, you know, all these people in the West who love to go around urging humanitarian intervention, and the West needs to stop Assad, the West needs to stop Gaddafi, the West needs to stop Saddam Hussein—doesn’t the West need to stop the Israeli government? At the very least, stop arming it and sending it money and sending it intelligence and providing diplomatic cover? Because the Western governments that do that, led by the U.K. and the United States, are very much complicit in everything that’s being done to the Palestinians, which are war crimes and, increasingly, apartheid and genocide.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Glenn, quickly, the impact of the Palestinian nonviolent protests now that are occurring, the constant protests that—of the people pouring out of Gaza to the barrier with Israel?
GLENN GREENWALD: Look at how—what Western discourse says, Juan, about what Palestinians are permitted to do. So, if Palestinians kill troops, Israeli troops, occupying their land, which every country in the world would claim the right to do—if there were Russian troops occupying the U.S., it would be cheered if people killed them. But when Palestinians kill military soldiers occupying their land, they’re called terrorists. When Palestinians advocate a nonviolent boycott of Israel in order to pressure them to end the occupation, the way people did in the ’80s successfully against the South African apartheid regime, that’s called anti-Semitism. When Palestinians nonviolently protest at the border, they’re accused of being agents of Hamas who deserve to be slaughtered.
The discourse of the West is that Palestinians have no right to resist or protest this decades-long occupation. They don’t have a right to do so violently, and they have no right to do so nonviolently. The only thing Western discourse tells Palestinians they’re permitted to do is to meekly acquiesce and submit to and obey the dictates of the Israeli government. And I think the world is finally starting to wake up to the fact that this discourse is incredibly immoral and that—
AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.
GLENN GREENWALD: —Palestinians have just the same rights as everybody else to protest and resist.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 12, 2018
Contact: Ron Boehmer 202-225-2906
Members of Congress Release Statement on Protests in Gaza
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04) released the following statement in advance of demonstrations scheduled to take place on Friday within the territory of Gaza. The Members of Congress are urging Gaza protesters to carry out their right to assembly nonviolently, while also calling on members of Israel Defense Forces to exercise utmost restraint in the use of deadly force and to fully comply with international law.
“We are deeply disturbed by the tragic loss of life over the past two weeks of protests carried out within the territory of Gaza, with more than a dozen Palestinians killed by sniper fire – including an unarmed teenager and a respected photojournalist – and many hundreds more injured by live ammunition.
“While it appears that the vast majority of Palestinians who have gathered to protest have been peaceful, we object to reported cases of non-peaceful actions carried out by some Gaza protesters, and we call on them to exercise their rights nonviolently. We also urge Israeli soldiers to refrain from shooting live ammunition at unarmed Palestinian protesters from hundreds of meters away, across the fence separating the two territories.
“We strongly reject the dangerous contention made on April 8 by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman that ‘there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip.’ Media reports suggest that on Friday, Israeli soldiers will once again be ordered by high command – in contravention of international law – to engage in sniper fire on Gaza residents who come within 300 meters of the border fence or engage in other non-life-threatening actions.
“We applaud Israeli human rights groups that are calling on Israeli soldiers to resist such illegal orders from their superiors, and are urging IDF forces to fully comply with international law and exercise utmost restraint in their use of deadly force. Such measures must only be used as a last resort to stop an imminent threat to life.”
Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, 30, is evacuated after being fatally wounded by Israeli fire while covering the Palestinian demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja covered plenty of funeral processions during the 2014 war in Gaza.
Now his colleagues are covering his death.
They encircled his body, holding their cameras high, as he was carried out of Gaza’s main hospital on Saturday. They marched through the streets on their way to funeral prayers at the territory’s central mosque. Draped across his body was a Palestinian flag and a blue reporter’s flak vest.
Just one day before, Murtaja, 30, was at the Gaza-Israel border with his camera, covering demonstrations of some of the bloodiest violence Gaza has seen since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Palestinian territory.
Over more than a week, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered near Israel’s fortified border fence with the stated aim of demanding to return to lands their families lost in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s founding. But Israel accused Hamas of fomenting violence under the guise of a civil protest.
Many demonstrators stayed far back from the border fence, picnicking in the barley fields and holding a tent camp sit-in, but some young Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks toward the fence. Israel said there were also attempts to lob rudimentary explosives and damage or penetrate the border fence, as well as a pair of militants who shot at soldiers.
Israel said its troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire to prevent masses from crossing into Israel and in order to protect its border fence and soldiers. Gaza officials said Israeli troops have killed at least 29 Palestinians since last Friday and wounded hundreds. Palestinians and some rights groups say troops are firing on people even when they are unarmed or pose no immediate threat.
On Friday afternoon, Murtaja stood about 300 yards away from the fence, documenting Palestinians burning tires, said photographer Rushdi Serraj, a close colleague who said he was next to Murtaja when he was shot. “Suddenly, he shouts, ‘I’m injured, I’m injured, my stomach,'” Serraj recounted.
Photos show Murtaja on the ground, wearing a protective vest marked “PRESS” in big English letters. His family said he was hit by a bullet to an exposed side of his torso not covered by the front or back part of his vest.
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in Gaza said an additional five Palestinian reporters covering the border protests were wounded by Israeli fire. NPR met two of them, in hospital beds with serious leg wounds, who said they were shooting photos on the border and wearing PRESS-labeled vests when they were shot.
Adham Hajjar, 32, says he was wearing a vest marked “PRESS” when he was shot in the leg while covering protests at the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. Daniel Estrin
The Israeli military said it does not intentionally target journalists and is looking into the matter. Hours before Murtaja was shot, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said soldiers employ lethal fire only as a last resort.
“No one gets shot by standing and looking. They are shot after commanders specifically approve it against a specific person or threat,” Conricus said.
Late Saturday, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman seemed to suggest Murtaja had flown a drone above soldiers when he was shot. He also said Hamas men had dressed up as journalists. He did not provide evidence to back the claims.
“You don’t know who is a photographer and who is not,” Lieberman said. “Whoever employs drones above Israeli soldiers needs to understand he is endangering himself.”
The Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories called on the Israeli army to conduct a fast and open investigation, and to show restraint in areas where journalists work.
From the Front Lines in Palestine
Monday, April 9
Multicultural Student Center
Red Gym, UW-Madison
716 Langdon Street
7:00 – 9:00 pm
In 2002, the International Solidarity Movement grabbed world attention by bringing volunteers from around the world to defend Palestine through nonviolent resistance. They stayed with resistance fighters in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. They brought medical supplies to the besieged Palestinians in the ancient Nablus Casbah. They documented and filmed the destruction and mass killing of Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. In 2002 and 2003, thousands participated at their own expense.
One was Rachel Corrie, who was killed trying to prevent demolition of a home in Gaza. Another was Tom Hurndall, killed by a shot to the head. ISM has operated continuously since then, serving at the request of the Palestinian community through participation in Palestinian nonviolent resistance. In 2009, 2012 and 2014, ISM volunteers were with the Palestinian people in Gaza, reporting the Israeli invasion and helping in the hospitals, clinics and schools that were attacked even as they served the refugees.
But ISM is today unable to fill the demand from the Palestinian popular movement. We need to recruit more volunteers, so we have brought the ISM to North America to talk to interested groups. The speaking team consists of one of our Palestinian coordinators and an experienced international volunteer.
The presentation includes a screening of an abridged version of Radiance of Resistance, a film produced by three ISM volunteers serving in Nabi Salih and featuring Ahed Tamimi and her cousin, Janna Jihad.
Sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine-UW Madison. Free and open to the public.
About the Speakers
Islam Maraqa is a Palestinian activist and electrical worker from Hebron. He has been a human rights activist since the second Intifada, in 2003, when Israeli military forces closed his university. Since then he has founded and been an active member of many groups.
He joined ISM in 2006, first as an activist and then as a coordinator and trainer of international volunteers. During that time, ISM work in Hebron included accompanying children to school along routes near settlers, direct confrontation with military forces, resistance against house demolitions and remaining with threatened families. He conducted liaison with localPalestinian committees, organizations and families, for the purpose of assuring that ISM is always Palestinian-led.
Islam is a recognized and active member of his community, and especially in the resistance against human rights violations. Outside of his ISM activities, Islam started the Marmara Housing Project with a group of Palestinians and internationals, to rebuild eco-friendly and practical homes for the Palestinian families whose homes have been bulldozed by lsraeli Forces.
Joe Catron went to Palestine’s Gaza Strip in March 2011, on the first international solidarity delegation to cross the Rafah border after the fall of Egypt’s Mubarak government, and lived there through October 2014. Over three and a half years in the besieged coastal enclave, he accompanied farmers and fishermen in Israeli-enforced access-restricted areas, joined popular protests along Israel’s separation barrier, supported campaigns in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners, and assisted local organizations through editing and training.
During Israel’s military offensive in summer 2014, he and other international volunteers established a constant presence in hospitals threatened by Israeli bombardment and accompanied rescue efforts in conflict areas.
His writing and photography from Palestine have appeared in +972 Magazine, BBC, Electronic Intifada, Middle East Eye, the New York Times, Newsweek, and various other media. He is in Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen’s new documentary, Killing Gaza, and was profiled by Ramzy Baroud in his latest book, The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story. He lives in New York and is the U.S. coordinator of Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
Featuring Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie
Sunday, April 8
St. James Catholic Church
1128 St. James Court, Madison, WI
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Joe Catron and Islam Maraqa from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) will also be presenting. Rachel was volunteering with this group on March 16, 2003 when she was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar bulldozer as she protested the demolition of a Palestinian family home in Rafah.
A clip from from the new film, Radiance of Resistance, about Palestinian youth activists Ahed Tamimi and Janna Ayyad will also be shown.
PLUS hummus and tabbouleh; desserts including baklawa; and the ever-popular DOOR PRIZES. Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, zaatar & maftool, embroidery and other crafts will be available for purchase.
The event is free and open to the public, with a $5 suggested donation to cover cost of food. Donations will be gratefully accepted to help support the Samira Remedial Education Project for disadvantaged and traumatized children in Rafah, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, and the ISM tour.
Co-sponsored by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; Good Shepherd Parish Social Justice Committee; Amnesty International Group 139; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-Madison Branch; Colombia Support Network; Students for Justice in Palestine-UW Madison; and Bright Stars of Bethlehem. Welcomed by WORT Radio.
If possible, please RSVP to rafahsistercity at yahoo.com so that we are sure to have enough food.
Thursday, April 5, 12-1 pm, WORT 89.9 FM: A Public Affair host Allen Ruff will interview Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, about their daughter’s legacy and their work on behalf of peace and justice in Palestine during the 15 years since Rachel’s death in 2003. Call in at 256-2001 with your questions and comments, or listen live online.
Joe Catron and Islam Maraqa from the ISM will be speaking and showing the Radiance of Resistance film clip on the UW-Madison campus on Monday, April 9 from 7-9 pm, at the Multicultural Students Center in the Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, Madison. See UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine for more details.