At Is­rael’s live-fire re­sponse to Gaza protests

The New Zealand Herald - - World - — Wash­ing­ton Post

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.”

Sfard is rep­re­sent­ing hu­man rights groups pe­ti­tion­ing Is­rael’s Supreme Court to chal­lenge the le­gal­ity of the mil­i­tary’s live fire rules dur­ing demon­stra­tions in Gaza ear­lier this month. He said the only le­gal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for us­ing live am­mu­ni­tion against civil­ians is if they are “pos­ing an im­mi­nent dan­ger to the lives of oth­ers”. In the state’s re­sponse, Is­rael has ar­gued that the protests can’t be clas­si­fied as civil­ian be­cause they are part of the “armed con­flict” be­tween Is­rael and Ha­mas, which con­trols the Gaza Strip. “The state op­poses the ap­ply­ing of hu­man rights law dur­ing an armed con­flict,” Is­rael’s re­sponse said.

The bor­der is de­fended, in gen­eral, by two lay­ers of fence topped with barbed wire, and Is­raeli snipers have been po­si­tioned within 100m of the bar­rier.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Jonathan Con­ri­cus, a spokesman for the Is­raeli mil­i­tary, said soldiers wouldn’t be shoot­ing to kill a fence-cut­ter like Khalil. He said it was a “hec­tic area with smoke and fires and lots of mov­ing peo­ple”. He added, “The com­mand that is is­sued to our troops is to shoot to­wards the legs.”

But mul­ti­ple videos have sur­faced ap­par­ently show­ing Is­raeli forces shoot­ing un­armed pro­test­ers. A video in April showed a Pales­tinian run­ning away from the bor­der fence with a tyre be­fore be­ing shot in the head.

Is­raeli mil­i­tary of­fi­cials say they have not changed their rules of en­gage­ment over nearly seven weeks of protests and warned be­fore they started that there were or­ders to use “a lot of force” and live am­mu­ni­tion if soldiers or in­fra­struc­ture came un­der threat. At least 111 Pales­tini­ans have been killed dur­ing the protests, Gaza health of­fi­cials say.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials have lav­ished praise on the ac­tions of its forces in pro­tect­ing the bor­der. Af­ter a meet­ing with se­cu­rity chiefs on Tues­day, Prime Min­is­ter Benjamin Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice re­leased a state­ment say­ing that the “de­ter­mined ac­tions” of the Is­raeli mil­iary had “pre­vented a breach of Is­rael’s bor­ders”.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary re­ported an at­tempt to plant ex­plo­sives along the fence and a shoot­ing at­tack by eight Ha­mas mil­i­tants in an ar­moured ve­hi­cle. In such cases, Is­raeli forces shoot to kill, Con­ri­cus said.

“The en­tire bor­der ri­ots are con­ducted un­der the slo­gan of the ‘march of re­turn’. What is the re­turn? To an­ni­hi­late Is­rael,” said Yossi Ku­per­wasser, a re­tired bri­gadier gen­eral in the Is­raeli mil­i­tary who also served as di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Min­istry of Strate­gic Af­fairs, voic­ing a com­mon Is­raeli view.

If the mil­i­tary didn’t pre­vent them from cross­ing, he said, “It would be a dis­as­ter for ev­ery­one.”

Hu­man rights groups say that fear doesn’t jus­tify the use of deadly force against un­armed pro­test­ers when they aren’t pos­ing an im­me­di­ate threat.

Photo / AP

of chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons was banned.

Photo / AP

Is­raeli soldiers were able to fire at pro­test­ers from watch­tow­ers on the other side of the bor­der fence.

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