Al-Quds (GPA) – Israeli forces responded to several thousand Palestinian protestors in Gaza with live fire this weekend: killing 17 and injuring over 1,400. The United Nations and European Union urged a “transparent and independent” investigation into Israel’s Gaza massacre. The United States has already blocked a UN statement on the matter.
About 30,000 Palestinians planned the protests to take place on Friday, March 30th. Dubbed the “Great Return March,” demonstrators seek to lift the devastating Israeli siege on the Gaza strip and assert their right to return home.
Gaza Massacre: Israeli Forces Kill or Injure Nearly 1,500 Palestinians
Prior to the demonstration, Israel announced plans to use live ammunition on protestors for “security” concerns such as damaging fences. The Israeli forces also fortified area around Gaza with tanks, troops, and over 100 specialized snipers. This resulted in the deadliest massacre since the 2014 Gaza War: 17 Palestinians died and over 1,400 were injured without justification. About 20 remain in critical condition.
Israeli forces killed at least one teenager in the deadly Gaza massacre named Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi. Gaza’s health ministry says fire from the tanks killed at least two Palestinians while the United Nations reported a devastating shortage of medical supplies. “Medical facilities in Gaza, which have already been overstrained by the longstanding shortages of medical supplies, electricity, and fuel, are struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of casualties,” a UN spokesperson stated.
US Blocks UN Statement to Conduct Independent Investigation
Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, praised the occupational forces for their Gaza massacre.
כל הכבוד לחיילינו ששומרים על גבולות המדינה ומאפשרים לאזרחי ישראל לחגוג את החג בשקט. ישראל פועלת בתקיפות ובנחישות כדי להגן על ריבונותה וביטחון אזרחיה.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 31, 2018
Much of the international community does not share this sentiment regarding Israel’s deadly attacks.
Iran’s foreign ministry swiftly and strongly condemned the deadly attacks.
“Although the Zionist regime (of Israel) has a long record in occupation, killing and (committing) crimes, Mr. Trump and the US ruling elites’ unwavering support as well as shameful efforts by some regional leaders in order to establish overt, covert, disgraceful and ignominious relations with the (Israeli) regime have unfortunately further emboldened Zionist regime leaders to turn Palestinian youth’s peaceful rally into a bloodbath on the Eve of Passover,” Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.
“Overt, covert, disgraceful, and ignominious relations” likely refers to Saudi Arabia’s recent warming of ties with the Israeli entity: a blatant backstabbing to the Palestinian people and the entire region. Qassemi’s comments also likely refer to Egypt’s facilitation of Israel’s occupation bordering the Sinai at the heavily fortified Rafah crossing.
The European Union also condemned Israel’s Gaza massacre. Diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called for an “independent and transparent” investigation to determine circumstances surrounding the 17 deaths and nearly 1,500 injuries.
“The use of live ammunition should, in particular, be part of an independent and transparent investigation,” Mogherini said.
The United Nations also urged a probe into this weekend’s deadly attacks. Secretary-general António Guterres mirrored Mogherini’s statements calling for an “independent and transparent” investigation.
The Security Council held an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss Israeli forces’ use of live fire on 30,000 non-violent protestors. Kuwait proposed a draft statement calling for a transparent investigation which the United States unsurprisingly vetoed. The statement also reportedly called “for respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including protection of civilians.”
U.S.-backed Israeli Siege and Occupation of Gaza
Israel has forcibly occupied the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian territories since the Six-Day War in 1967. At this time, Israel began building settlements not only on Palestinian land in Gaza but also Syrian land in the Golan Heights and Egyptian territory in the Sinai Penninsula.
Although Israel dismantled Gaza settlements in 2005, their military occupation remains. After Hamas won the popular election in 2007, Israel initiated their blockade. Israel continues to expand settlements throughout the occupied West Bank as well.
Israeli forces have become increasingly violent towards the occupied population following the U.S. regime’s announcement to relocate their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most of the Arab world knows “Jerusalem” as “al-Quds” — Palestinians consider this city their eternal capital despite the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation and imposed state.
Protests planned throughout Gaza began six weeks ago and culminate on May 15th marking Nakba Day: the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homelands.