How do Israeli journalists report on a place they can’t reach?

Cameras belonging to news crews stationed at the Israeli side of the border with Gaza attempt to capture the clashes near the fence, May 15, 2018. (photo: Oren Ziv /

For the past 11 years, Israeli journalists have been forbidden from entering Gaza. This has affected not only their reporting, but also the way fellow Israelis understand what is happening there.

By Oren Ziv | +972 Magazine | May 19, 2018

This was never Hamas’ decision; it was Israel’s.

The main obstacle that faces anyone who wants to report on what is happening at Gaza protests from the Israeli side of the border is that one can hear the gunfire, see the smoke, report on the army’s conduct, and estimate the number of protesters — and yet, you cannot get the full story. A journalist from East Jerusalem who often covers the goings on at the border summed it up perfectly: “We can hear the bullets, but we can’t see the blood.” Since Israel placed Gaza under siege 11 years ago, Israeli journalists have been forbidden from entering the Strip, both in times of conflict and calm. This was never Hamas’ decision; it was Israel’s.

Continue reading “How do Israeli journalists report on a place they can’t reach?”

Israel cannot fulfill its promise perpetuating apartheid

A Palestinian man falls to the ground after being shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Monday. (photo: Khalil Hamra / The Associated Press)

As an American Jew, I feel compelled to speak the unspeakable: It is in Jewish best interests, morally and pragmatically, to rethink the notion of Israel as a Jewish state.

By Lauren Goldman Marshall | The Seattle Times | May 18, 2018

Imagine what a new Israel could be, an Israel for all peoples. If all the young lives, Jewish and Arab, cut short by this violence could instead be harnessed to irrigate the desert, desalinate the sea, create music and translate love poems into each other’s (very similar) languages! Now that would be an Israel to inspire the world.

Nineteen years ago, I rehearsed a play with Israeli and Palestinian teenagers at Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine. Forging a script both sides could stand behind took perseverance. But at our cast party, Arabs and Jews leaned on each other and sang songs. It gave me a glimpse of what could be.

I contrast that hopeful moment with the appalling news coming out of Israel and Gaza. While Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces were firing on (mostly unarmed) Palestinian protesters gathered along the fence between Gaza and Israel, killing at least 60, and injuring more than 2,000.

Israel defends its response, claiming that the demonstrators were trying to breach the border. But the absence of any casualties on the Israeli side proves the response was grossly disproportionate. This is not an isolated incident, but an ongoing saga since 2007, when Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza following Hamas’ election victory. Nearly 2 million Gazans are squeezed into a virtual prison one-ninth the size of Rhode Island. Israel and Egypt control the borders and access to water, fuel, medical supplies and electricity. It doesn’t take a leap of logic to see that Gaza has become a concentration camp, and the demonstrations at the border are a desperate response to a humanitarian crisis.

Continue reading “Israel cannot fulfill its promise perpetuating apartheid”

As Gaza sinks into despair, a new book makes the case against Israeli brutality

Palestinians inspect the Israeli-bombed Zeitun district of Gaza City on Jan 23, 2009.
 (photo: Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP / Getty Images)

“This book is not about Gaza,” the author writes. “It is about what has been done to Gaza.”

By Charles Glass | The Intercept | May 13, 2018

Gaza is sinking, if not into the sea, into desperation. The Israeli embargo has rendered 65 percent of Gazans under the age of 30 unemployed. Health care suffers from lack of equipment and medicine. People cannot leave to find work outside, and children live with the trauma of never knowing when their homes will be bombed. When I was there in 2002, Dr. Eyad Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program told me that almost half the children under 16 suffered bed-wetting due to constant fear. That was before the military invasions of the last 10 years.

Israel celebrates a double anniversary on May 15 this year, the founding of the state and the formal establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces, the name the state gave to its combined army, navy, and air force. Armed statehood fulfilled the political Zionists’ dream of gathering Jews from the ancient Diaspora under their own government in what they declared to be their “promised land.” During the battle over the land between 1947 and 1949, the IDF expelled three-quarters of the indigenous population. Of the 750,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled, 250,000 took shelter in Gaza, a tiny pocket of southwest Palestine then occupied by the Egyptian army. The destitute and traumatized refugees were three times more numerous than the 80,000 Gazans who took them in.

The United Nations passed but did not enforce annual resolutions calling for the refugees’ return. Israel invaded the territory in 1956, withdrew under American pressure in 1957, and invaded again in 1967. As its population grew to nearly 2 million souls packed into a pocket five miles wide and 40 miles long, Gaza has become a byword for misery. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron, no advocate of the Palestinian cause, called it “an open-air prison.”

Continue reading “As Gaza sinks into despair, a new book makes the case against Israeli brutality”

Israel’s use of fatal fire in Gaza

Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian protesters who tried to approach the fence at the de facto border with Gaza. (photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)

Excessive force or justified mob control?

By Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | May 16, 2018

“Cutting or attacking the fence is an offense. It has to be countered, but countered with reasonable force. There is no meter that I know of that would put the safety of the border fence at the same importance of the life of a 14-year-old.”
— Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer

Fourteen-year-old Wisal Sheikh Khalil had wire cutters out and was trying to break through Gaza’s boundary fence into Israel when she was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on Monday, according to her younger brother, who was with her at the time.

She was one of at least 60 Palestinians killed by Israeli troops during protests this week along the fence, according to local health officials.

Israel’s sharpshooters, looking down from their nests on mounds of earth on the other side of the fence, have been permitted to use lethal force against those “endangering” the barrier, Israeli military officials say. These officials also say that Israeli soldiers have been allowed to use live ammunition to shoot “instigators” among “rioters” on the de facto border.

In both cases, the orders are to aim for the legs, they say, though Khalil was shot in the head.

Continue reading “Israel’s use of fatal fire in Gaza”

A grotesque spectacle in Jerusalem

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman sits next to White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner as he speaks during the dedication ceremony of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. (photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters0

Trump has empowered what’s worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity. But some day, Trump will be gone.

By Michelle Goldberg | The New York Times | May 14, 2018

The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America’s relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.

On Monday, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and other leading lights of the Trumpist right gathered in Israel to celebrate the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture widely seen as a slap in the face to Palestinians who envision East Jerusalem as their future capital.

The event was grotesque. It was a consummation of the cynical alliance between hawkish Jews and Zionist evangelicals who believe that the return of Jews to Israel will usher in the apocalypse and the return of Christ, after which Jews who don’t convert will burn forever.

Religions like “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism” lead people “to an eternity of separation from God in Hell,” Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America’s most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

Continue reading “A grotesque spectacle in Jerusalem”

What the Gaza protests portend

A Palestinian woman on the Gaza side of the fence on a day of bloody protests at the buffer zone with Israel, May 14, 2018. (photo: Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

From Sharpeville to Selma, the history of marches for civil and political rights is long and bloody.

By Tareq Baconi | The New York Review of Books | May 15, 2018

This mass mobilization around the core principles of Palestinian liberation — arising from civil society independently of discredited political leaderships — holds immense power to disrupt the status quo. Whether this movement, from East Jerusalem to Gaza, Israel to the West Bank, eventually bends toward justice depends on whether the international community will tolerate Israel’s capacity to deny an entire people their basic rights and rob them of a future because they are not Jewish. The past record is not encouraging, but something new has started.

“The battle against infiltration in the border areas at all times of day and night will be carried out mainly by opening fire, without giving warning, on any individual or group that cannot be identified from afar by our troops as Israeli citizens and who are, at the moment they are spotted, [infiltrating] into Israeli territory.”

This was the order issued in 1953 by Israel’s Fifth Giv’ati Brigade in response to the hundreds of Palestinian refugees who sought to return to homes and lands from which they had been expelled in 1948. For years after the war, the recently displaced braved mines and bullets from border kibbutzim and risked harsh reprisals from Israel’s army to reclaim their property. The reprisals included raids on refugee camps and villages that often killed civilians, as the Israeli historian Benny Morris and others have laid out. Still, refugees persisted in their attempts to return, and Israel persisted in viewing these attempts as “infiltration.”

Over the past six weeks, Israeli soldiers have killed some forty Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the majority of them unarmed civilians, and injured more than five thousand protesters. As the US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem Monday, the violence escalated alarmingly. Israeli forces shot dead at least another fifty Palestinians and injured more than 2,400, making it by far the bloodiest day yet in the current round of protests in Gaza.

Continue reading “What the Gaza protests portend”

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.

Continue reading “Why is Israel using lethal force against unarmed protesters in Gaza?”

Six “must-read” articles on the Gaza protests and embassy move

Palestinians clash with Israeli forces along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel near Gaza City on May 14, 2018. (photo: Mahmud Hams / AFP)

Haaretz correspondents’ top takes on the latest round of battles between Israel and the Palestinians and on Trump moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

By Haaretz | May 15, 2018

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

1. A predictable disaster in Gaza: Israel did not lift a finger to prevent lethal clashes

The plumes of smoke rising in the distance from Gaza were already visible on the drive from the Negev town of Netivot Monday morning. Over the next several hours, the smoke from burning tires grew thicker at dozens of protest sites along the entire Strip, from the area across from Moshav Netiv Ha’asara in the north to the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings in the south. Read Amos Harel’s full analysis here →

2. Messianic US–Israel axis showcased at Jerusalem embassy ceremony is gut-punch for most American Jews

The stark contrast that played out on split screens throughout the world Monday, between the Israeli celebration in Jerusalem and the Palestinian casualties in Gaza, was worthy of Charles Dickens’ immortal opening to A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Read Chemi Shalev’s full analysis here →

Continue reading “Six “must-read” articles on the Gaza protests and embassy move”

Eyewitness account: Raw nerves and shots fired

A group of Palestinian women who had gathered near the fence were standing next to another woman when she was shot. (photo: Declan Walsh / The New York Times)

A reporter’s account of a sniper shooting at the Gaza-Israel fence.

By Declan Walsh | The New York Times | May 13, 2018

I finally learned the wounded woman’s name — Alaa Asawafiri — when I found her mother in a hospital corridor, her cheeks smeared with tears, clutching her daughter’s silver sneakers in a plastic bag.

A nervous frisson ran through the crowd as it pushed toward the fence between Gaza and Israel on Sunday evening, halting 75 feet from the wire.

I had traveled to Gaza from Cairo ahead of what are expected to be enormous demonstrations at the border fence this week. I wanted to first see the site of the protests on what I thought would be an uneventful evening.

It did not turn out that way.

Continue reading “Eyewitness account: Raw nerves and shots fired”

Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian demonstrators: 2,771 wounded, 58 killed yesterday

The funeral of a Palestinian killed during Monday’s clashes in Gaza. (photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

UN officials condemn “outrageous human rights violation” as Palestinians prepare to bury their dead.

By Oliver Holmes, Hazam Balousha and Peter Beaumont | The Guardian | May 15, 2018

“The mere fact of approaching a fence is not a lethal, life-threatening act, so that does not warrant being shot. It seems that anyone is liable to be shot dead. . . . It is not acceptable to say that ‘this is Hamas and therefore this is OK.’”
— Rupert Colville, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman

International condemnation of Israel’s killing of 59 Palestinian protesters in Gaza escalated as thousands rallied in the coastal enclave to bury the dead from the latest round of violence.

The killings took place on Monday during demonstrations at the Gaza border fence, which coincided with a high-profile ceremony to mark the controversial transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the Trump administration that overturned decades of US foreign policy.

As senior UN rights officials condemned the killings as an “outrageous human rights violation” — adding that it appeared anyone approaching the Gaza border fence was liable to be killed by Israeli soldiers — Ireland summoned Israel’s ambassador to protest against the fatalities.

Continue reading “Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian demonstrators: 2,771 wounded, 58 killed yesterday”