These Members of Congress Are Trying to Visit Gaza — Israel Should Let Them Do So

Representatives Mark Pocan, Dan Kildee, and Hank Johnson Jr. were denied the opportunity to witness conditions on the ground firsthand

John Nichols, The Nation, 5/14/18

Gaza masacre nakba may2018A Palestinian demonstrator shouts during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border on May 14, 2018. (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

The Trump administration’s response to the killings of dozens of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli soldiers was to fault the organizers of mass demonstrations by people who are living in nightmarish conditions on the Gaza Strip. While a White House spokesman claimed that “the responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” the man Donald Trump has charged with renewing the Middle East peace process, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, literally faulted protesters amid reports of the mass killing and wounding of Palestinian men, women, and children who were objecting to Israeli policies. “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Kushner claimed at a ceremony marking the opening of the new United States embassy in Jerusalem.

But responsible members of Congress—many of them with long experience observing the Middle East—saw the circumstances more clearly, and responded in more realistic terms.

    “This is horrific.”
    — Barbara Lee on the killings of Palestinians this Monday

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Gaza: Do Palestinian Lives Matter?

A Palestinian child holds a sign on Land Day.

Samir El-Omari and Barbara Olson, Madison365, May 11, 2018

For the past six weeks, Gaza has been in the news as residents have been protesting near the barbed wire fence and free-fire “no-go” zone that traps them under Israel’s siege and blockade of the impoverished territory.

The protests began on March 30, commemorated by Palestinians as “Land Day” annually since 1976, when six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel (including three women) protesting government confiscation of their lands for Jewish-only settlements in the Arab-majority Galilee area were shot dead by the Israeli army and police, who were not punished.

In Gaza and elsewhere this “Great March of Return” demonstration by all factions and sectors of Palestinian society asserts their international legal right to return to the villages and towns Israel expelled them from in 1948 – lands that for Gazans lie just a few miles away on the other side of the barbed wire, and to which they have been forbidden to return solely because they are not Jewish. The demonstrations are set to culminate on May 15, Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when Palestinians protest their ongoing dispossession by Israel and the western powers.

In the early hours of March 30, before any demonstrations had started, Israeli soldiers fired a tank shell at two farmers “acting suspiciously” in their fields, blowing one to pieces and injuring the other. Later that day, snipers Israel had placed behind earthworks along the fence with openly-declared shoot-to-kill orders began firing on the unarmed protesters. At least 18 were killed and more than 1400 injured that first day. As of this writing, the death toll stands at over 50, including five children and two journalists. Over 6,000 have been injured, with hundreds suffering devastating injuries caused by exploding bullets that rip through flesh and bone according to Doctors without Borders. No Israelis have been injured.

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Judith Laitman and Tsela Barr: On Israel’s 70th anniversary, we remember the Nakba

In this Wednesday, April 4, 2018, file photo, Palestinian protesters wave flags in front of Israeli soldiers on Gaza’s border with Israel near Beit Lahiya. (ADEL HANA, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Judith Laitman and Tsela Barr, Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison Chapter, May 3, 2018

This month, Jews around the world are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

These celebrations reflect the gratitude of Jews who view Israel as the symbol of freedom from centuries of persecution that culminated in the Holocaust.

We are Jews who will not be celebrating. The reason lies in a tragic irony: While Israel was intended as a safe haven for dispossessed Jews, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced to make room for the future state of Israel. In fact, Palestinians were forced out through a deliberate policy of expulsion and terrorism in order to create an exclusive homeland for Jews.

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Why I March in Gaza

Palestinian demonstrators on a sand plateau during clashes with Israeli forces last Friday east of Gaza City. Residents of Gaza are mounting a series of protests called the Great Return March. (Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Fadi Abu Shammalah, New York Times, April 27, 2018

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Early in the morning on March 30, my 7-year-old son, Ali, saw me preparing to leave the house. This was unusual for our Friday routine.

“Where are you going, Dad?”

“To the border. To participate in the Great Return March.”

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The Palestinian women at the forefront of Gaza’s protests

In socially conservative Gaza, women have been leading the Great Return March movement, uniting all Palestinians.

Mersiha Gadzo & Anas Jnena, 20 Apr 2018

‘I loved the sense of unity we all felt when both young men and women helped each other during the march protest,’ said Taghreed al-Barawi, seen in the photo [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Gaza Strip – On one side of the fence, dozens of Israeli soldiers lay positioned behind sand dunes, tracking the Palestinian demonstrators through the crosshairs of their snipers.

On the other side, young women, with keffiyeh scarves covering half their faces to avoid tear gas suffocation, stand in front of the young protesting men, providing cover.

“Women are less likely to be shot at,” said 26-year-old Taghreed al-Barawi on April 13, while attending the third consecutive Friday protests in Gaza near the Israeli border with her younger sister and a group of friends.

“We live in a male-dominated society and women’s participation in protests can be a strange scene for some people in Gaza. However, this time men somehow were more accepting and encouraging. It seems like they finally realised that we’re all part of this and women should be present,” Barawi said.

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“Apartheid, Rogue, Terrorist State”: Glenn Greenwald on Israel


Democracy Now! April 9, 2018

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.

Transcript
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.

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Palestinian Journalist Fatally Shot While Covering Gaza Protest

Daniel Estrin, NPR, April 7, 2018

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.

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