By Ray Hanania
On March 30, 2018, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began holding weekly protests against Israel’s harsh blockade.
The timing was symbolic, as it commemorated the day in 1976 when six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed while protesting against Israel’s plans to seize thousands of acres of Arab-owned land for “state purposes.”
Palestinian protesters called the Gaza protests the “Great March of Return” and the world saw thousands of civilians waving Palestinian flags while marching to the border of Gaza, which is essentially an open-air prison managed and controlled by Israel. The protests ended in December 2019.
During the near-two-year period, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza gathered every Friday at the border with Israel to protest. Israeli soldiers, positioned safely behind armored fortifications, used sniper rifles to shoot dead 223 protesters, while wounding 8,000 more.
Among those killed by the heavily armed Israeli soldiers were journalists, women, children (46 victims were under the age of 18), elderly people and emergency first responders, including several nurses.
In response to rising international outrage, Israel announced it would conduct its own investigation into the killings.
This week, two human rights groups — B’Tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights — released the results of an inquiry into Israel’s investigation, concluding that the probe was a ruse and none of the officials responsible for ordering the shootings were ever investigated. The 31-page B’Tselem and PCHR report, “Unwillling and Unable: Israel’s
Whitewashed Investigations of the Great March of Return,” can be read in full online.
Meanwhile, Israel is seeking to create a legal defense in anticipation of an unfavorable outcome at the International Criminal Court, which is investigating its abuses in the Gaza Strip. Israel is hoping to undermine the ICC probe by asserting, falsely in this case, that the charges were investigated and that it has been accountable and fair.
The ICC investigation and accusations that Israel is whitewashing war crimes are likely among the main reasons the Tel Aviv government is seeking to ban six human rights organizations, confiscate their computers and evidence, and arrest their staff. It wants to silence the critics who have gathered evidence that contradicts and exposes the Israeli government’s lies.
Israel’s so-called investigation was not conducted by an “independent” group, as it contends, but was in fact carried out by the same group accused of the killings: The Israel Defense Forces.
Israel asserts that it wants peace, but in reality it is the single greatest contributor to the violence. Far more Palestinians are injured and killed at the hands of Israeli soldiers, police and armed settlers inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories.
Individuals who are bewildered by how US politicians pander to Israel — closing their eyes to its human rights violations and violence, while exaggerating Palestinian violence — have a responsibility to help them see the truth.
Every American who believes in human rights and opposes violence of any kind should make a copy of the 31-page report and mail it to their member of Congress. They need to speak up. They need to help open the eyes of members of Congress who are willing to turn away from justice in order to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from pro-Israel political action committees.
As long as Israel has Congress in a campaign finance headlock thanks to PAC contributions, the truth will be killed almost as fast as it injures and kills Palestinians. For the record, between 2008 and 2020, Palestinians have killed 251 Israelis, while Israel has killed 5,590 Palestinians. That figure does not include the 115,000 Palestinians who have been injured, compared with the nearly 5,000 Israelis who have been hurt.