Why is Israel using lethal force against unarmed protesters in Gaza?

Smoke rises as Israeli soldiers are seen on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip, Israel, May 14, 2018. (photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters)

When Hamas sends young demonstrators towards a firing squad, that doesn’t mean Israel has to keep pulling the trigger.

By Ilene Prusher | Haaretz | May 15, 2018

Do we really imagine this so-called “March of Return” to be an existential threat to the strongest army in the Middle East? Demonstrators might be wild with rage and even psyched up by Hamas slogans, but they’re not armed and equipped to take on Israel.

The loss of life in Gaza at the ends of Israeli army snipers is not only gruesome, it’s reprehensible — because lethal force is not the only way to confront protesters.

We in America know that from our own history.

We’ve been thinking a lot about civil rights in America, recently. Last month marked 50 years since the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

In the year-and-a-half since Donald Trump was elected, we’ve seen a resurgence of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic incidents, and signs of white supremacist groups moving out of the shadows and into town squares not en masse, but enough to make us realize that America remains rife with racism.

When most Americans look back on how police dealt with civil rights protesters in the 1960’s, particularly African-Americans, it’s with a wince and a degree of shame. Water cannons turned on demonstrators were a degrading and painful way to beat back crowds. The blunt force of the water sometimes caused facial fractures, lost eyes and forced falls that led to other injuries.

But rarely death.

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