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May 21, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Kushner’s Peace Plan for the Middle East Dies Along with 62 Palestinians

As Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were busying themselves opening the United States’ newest Embassy in Jerusalem — with a speech saying “peace is within reach”, no less — a largely peaceful protest in Gaza turned to bloodshed when Israel Defense Force (IDF) snipers opened fire on protesters. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 62 were killed and nearly 3000 more were injured. All in all, a fairly ironic time for Kushner to be advertising his long awaited “peace plan”.

This is one of the worst massacres to occur in Palestine in years, and is the bloodiest episode in the six weeks of protests in Gaza, in which over 100 people have been murdered. The “March to Return” protests are centered around the 70th anniversary of the expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral lands.

World leaders all over have denounced the atrocity, with South Africa withdrawing its ambassador in protest. Turkey took this one step further and recalled its ambassadors to both Israel and America, and invited the Israeli Ambassador to leave Turkey.

Following the attack, the Palestinian and Israeli representatives to the United Nations gave each other a good tongue lashing, with the Palestinian representative Riyad Mansour excoriating “the odious massacre in the Gaza strip […] a crime against humanity”. Israel’s Danny Danon shot back that Hamas had “taken the people of Gaza hostage […] they incite people to violence, place as many civilians as possible in the line of fire to maximise civilian casualties, then they blame Israel and come to the UN to complain. It is a deadly game they play at the expense of innocent children”.

Personally, I’d say the Israeli claim seems a bit tenuous. After all, the protests are anything but unpopular with the people of Gaza, especially after several of those killed appear to have been shot in the back.

One Israeli Government spokesman went so far as to say the killings were justified, in that several of the protestors lit fires, and tried to damage the fence and cross the border. Now it might just be my bias showing through, but when the Government’s position is that a fence is worth more than 62 people’s lives, it tends to make you wonder what sort of vile regime this is.

This recent surge in violence has its roots in three salient events that are ongoing.

The most important being that this month marks the 70th anniversary of the “Nakbar” — or “catastrophe” — where 700,000 Palestinians were ejected from their homes during Israel’s birth.

The second, to borrow a phrase from Kim Jong-Il, is in regard to the “dotard” Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. For anyone not super up to date on what’s happening with Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem is considered illegally occupied territory by the international community — i.e. a spectacularly bad place to put one’s embassy. Naturally Mr Netanyahu of Israel applauded Trump’s “brave” and “just” move, while the Palestinians – and numerous other countries – blasted the move as inflammatory. This act has, arguably, finally quashed the notion that the US is a “neutral arbiter” in the ongoing dispute.

Finally, Hamas, the militant Islamist group currently in control of Gaza, appear to be initiating a policy change which involves outright violence, to counter the “March to Return”. The March involves Palestinians gathering at the border fence for the past month to protest the poor treatment by Israel. According to the IDF, these marches are instigated by “terrorists who are bent on the destruction of Israel”. Now I might be on my own here, but I find this fairly hard logic to follow — a people who being starved under siege wouldn’t seem to be overly capable of wiping out Israel, even if they wanted to. On top of this, we can see the Israeli Government accuse anyone who disagrees with their narrative of being an “anti-semite” — a somewhat trite claim that seems to be used as a bland rhetorical cudgel these days.

Overall, this massacre serves to highlight how far Israel has fallen in recent years, especially under the Likud-National Liberal Movement, with harsh repression and killings of Palestinians being the order of the day — something the international community seems disinclined to do anything substantial about. It would appear Israel’s claim “purity of arms” has also gone the way of the Dodo.

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