This year marks 70 years since the Palestinian Nakba – or catastrophe – when 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948 by zionist Israeli settlers.
It is a time of remembrance of all the humiliations, violence, murder, exile, and theft of the property of the Palestinian people by the Israeli aggressors who now occupy most of historic Palestine, and who starve and terrorise those living in the few parts it doesn’t directly occupy. It is also a time of protest.
To mark the 70th anniversary, and in desperation at the disintegration of the US-sponsored ‘peace process’, which has ground to a complete halt over the last decade, Palestinians held six weeks of mass protests all along the border, dubbed the Great March of Return.
The huge crowds that turned out to declare their intention of returning home were particularly heavily suppressed in Gaza, where desperation at the conditions in the world’s largest open-air prison is greatest and where fear of an ‘outbreak’ highest amongst the settlers occupying stolen land nearby.
“Thousands of Palestinians are marching and staging sit-ins at Israeli borders and checkpoints … in an unprecedented mass action campaign, demanding the right to return to homes that they lost when the Israeli state was established in 1948.
“‘We are tired of waiting, we are returning now. This will be a peaceful march from beginning to end. We shall carry no weapons, we shall shoot no bullets, and throw no stones,’ said organisers of the Great Return March (GRM).” (Thousands of Palestinians march for right to return, Voice of the Cape [South Africa], 20 March 2018)
Yet it is also at this time of year, just ahead of the Nakba’s 70th anniversary, that the US government chose to move its Israeli embassy into historic Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is internationally recognised as the shared capital of both Palestine and Israel, and as an international city, this was clearly intended to declare to the world that American imperialism recognises the continued right of the zionist occupation to swallow all of Palestine.
It was also meant to (and did) provoke Palestinian outrage, so that, first, the zionist hoodlums could carry on trying to implement their final solution of cleansing the country of its Palestinian population while painting themselves as the peaceful victims of aggression, and second, they could showcase their new drone technology to drum up sales.
Touting for business in ‘crowd control’ technology
Given its 70-year history of violent suppression of the local population, it is unsurprising that Israel has become a world-leader in all kinds of aggressive weaponry and in a plethora of population control technologies, from checkpoint and border control software to ‘anti-riot’ techniques and equipment.
It appears from witness statements that three types of drones have been used by the so-called Israel ‘Defence’ Force (IDF) to disperse gas onto protesters taking part in the Great March of Return:
1. The ‘Cyclone riot control drone system’ is an already known drone developed by the Israeli company ISPRA. This small drone with rotas carries a box containing nine light aluminium cartridges that burn up after they are released.
2. The second is a drone whose name and producer are presently unknown. It releases gas directly from the craft, like an aerosol, dispersing it in a cloud onto those below.
3. The third seems to be, potentially, a far more dangerous device. It is a larger helicopter-style drone that carries rubber bursting grenades with metal tops that disperse gas as they fall.
Every demonstration by the Palestinians over 14-15 May was attacked by these drones, and in many cases, such as along the Gaza ‘security fence’ area, they were backed up with snipers firing live rounds into the crowds.
On 14 May, as Donald Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood patting each other’s backs, the heavily-armed thugs of the IDF were butchering Palestinians in Gaza.
“Friends, what a glorious day, remember this day. This is history. Mr Trump, by recognising history, you made history,” was how Benjamin Netanyahu chose to describe the fact that the US and Israel had just ignored the UN and taken Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
“We stand with Israel because we both believe in human rights, democracy worth defending, and believe that we know that it is the right thing to do,” White House advisor Jared Kushner answered.
Murderous Israeli killing spree
And while they were grinning and celebrating their special brand of democracy, dozens of unarmed Palestinians were being beaten and arrested by Israeli security forces outside the embassy – cheered on by the Israeli demonstrators who came out to support the embassy’s opening. These Israeli citizens chanted over and over as the clubs fell on Palestinian heads and IDF boots slammed into Palestinian faces: “Burn them! Shoot them! Kill them!”
Sixty-two Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the course of those two days by Israel, and one of those was an eight-month-old baby girl who died of tear gas inhalation. This was the worst day of Palestinian deaths at the hands of the IDF since the IDF sent their troops into Gaza on a killing and destruction spree four years ago.
Members of the world’s media were documenting the massacre in Gaza as the first crowd was sent running in all directions by those drones discharging their payloads overhead. Before long, many demonstrators had fallen to IDF sniper bullets as they ran blinded by the gas. The area occupied by journalists, with vehicles prominently marked ‘Press’, was set apart from the demonstrators but was still targeted by tear gas attacks from the drones.
On 6 April, Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian journalist wearing body armour clearly marked with a ‘Press’ sign, was shot by Israeli snipers and later died from his injuries. At least five other Palestinian journalists were reportedly shot by Israeli troops during the protest.
There is also video footage showing a drone dropping gas on a communal tent full of women and children, many metres from the border and not threatening any danger to anyone.
According to the Gaza health ministry, 3,188 Palestinians suffered injuries from Israeli tear gas, rubber-tipped bullets and live fire, while the US defended its decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem and even blamed Iran for the “instability in the middle east” – which is surely standing the truth on its head!
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has forcefully criticised Israel and the US over the deadly attacks on the Gaza border. Erdoğan accused the Israelis of committing a “horrible massacre”. In response, Israel expelled the Turkish envoy, while Ankara kicked out the Israeli ambassador to Turkey over the massacre.
Since 30 March, 101 Palestinians have been killed during demonstrations in Gaza, and even the usually pro-imperialist Human Rights Watch (HRW) admitted: “The policy of Israeli authorities to fire irrespective of whether there is an immediate threat to life on Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, caged in for a decade and under occupation for half a century, has resulted in a bloodbath that anyone could have foreseen.”
Palestine’s ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, offered his condolences to slain protestors and stated Palestinian support for an independent UN investigation into the massacre. He then questioned the “regard for Palestinians” and asked the UN security council: “How many Palestinians must die before action is taken?”
He further chided the council, saying: “A power that hides kilometres from the inhabitants of Gaza;, targeting them with air strikes, rocket strikes, and other heinous acts. They target unarmed civilians. Would you accept that? … Did these children deserve to die?”
The murderous zionist government, lawmakers and military leaders must realise that they will not cow the Palestinian resistance with these massacres, as young Palestinians are growing into the boots of the old fighters and openly declare that there will be no peace without Jerusalem – that they will fight on and one day they will all return to their homes.
And it must be noted that, by their crazed brutality, the zionists are actually doing everything to bring about this longed-for day. We look forward to the time when zionism is universally reviled in the way that 1930-40s German fascism is today; when the land of Palestine is restored to its historic borders and people of all religions or none live in peace and equality as Palestinians.
Victory to the intifada; long live Palestine!