Dozens killed in Gaza clashes as new em­bassy opens

The Week (US) - - 4 News -

What hap­pened

Is­raeli sol­diers killed at least 60 Pales­tini­ans near the border fence with Gaza this week, over­shad­ow­ing a cer­e­mony for­mally re­lo­cat­ing the U.S. Em­bassy in Is­rael from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. About 40,000 mostly un­armed Gazans had gath­ered along the border as part of a Ha­mas-backed protest that be­gan seven weeks ago but ex­panded be­cause of anger over the U.S. Em­bassy de­ci­sion. Egged on by or­ga­niz­ers, some pro­test­ers tried to breach the fence, while oth­ers used sling­shots to pro­pel rocks over the border and flew burn­ing kites into Is­raeli fields. When tear gas failed to dis­perse the crowds rush­ing the fence, Is­raeli snipers be­gan pick­ing peo­ple off. The Gazan health min­istry claimed 1,350 were in­jured by gun­fire; Is­rael, whose troops suf­fered no in­juries, ques­tioned those fig­ures, and noted that Ha­mas had ad­mit­ted that 50 of the dead were its own op­er­a­tives. The killings at­tracted wide­spread in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion, with the U.N. declar­ing that those re­spon­si­ble “must be held to ac­count.” But the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fully backed the Ne­tanyahu gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions. “Is­rael has the right to self-de­fense,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah. “Ha­mas is re­spon­si­ble for these tragic deaths.”

In Jerusalem, Is­raeli and U.S. of­fi­cials hailed Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to move the U.S. Em­bassy as a sym­bol­i­cally im­por­tant move. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said it was a “glo­ri­ous day.” Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, who along with his wife, Ivanka, led the U.S. del­e­ga­tion, said peace was “within reach.” The Gazan pro­test­ers, Kush­ner said, were “part of the prob­lem and not part of the so­lu­tion.”

What the edi­to­ri­als said

These weren’t protests, said The Weekly Stan­dard, they were “sui­cide ri­ots.” Knowing that Pales­tinian bod­ies elicit Western sym­pa­thy, Ha­mas en­cour­aged young men to “storm the fence” and kill Is­raelis—leav­ing the Is­raeli snipers with no choice but to “fire back” at the in­vaders. It’s disin­gen­u­ous to claim these protests were about the trans­fer of the U.S. Em­bassy, said The Wall Street Jour­nal. Ha­mas is ul­ti­mately driven by its “eter­nal war against the ex­is­tence of the Jewish state”—not by “where Amer­ica puts its diplo­mats.” “Is­rael has ev­ery right to de­fend its borders,” said The New York Times, and Gazans are “un­der­min­ing their own cause by re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence.” But given that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of pro­test­ers were un­armed, could Is­raeli sol­diers not have used tear gas, wa­ter can­non, and other non­lethal mea­sures rather than live am­mu­ni­tion? As for Trump’s de­ci­sion to trans­fer the U.S. Em­bassy, that puts an end to “70 years of Amer­i­can neu­tral­ity” on the Is­rael-Pales­tine is­sue. The U.S. has lost all cred­i­bil­ity as a fair bro­ker in any peace process.

What the colum­nists said

The Left’s dou­ble stan­dard on Is­rael re­ally is breath­tak­ing, said David French in Na­tion­alRe­ No mil­i­tary force in his­tory has been able to “con­trol hos­tile armed mobs with ex­clu­sively non­lethal means,” and hid­den among the crowds of Gazan pro­test­ers were Ha­mas ter­ror­ists hop­ing to breach the border and “shoot or stab Is­raeli civil­ians.” Is­rael had no choice but to de­fend its cit­i­zens.

But look at this from the Gaza side of the fence, said Nathan Feld­man in The Bal­ti­more Sun. Thanks in large part to Is­rael’s de facto oc­cu­pa­tion, Gaza has long been “un­liv­able,” with 60 per­cent youth un­em­ploy­ment, lim­ited wa­ter and elec­tric­ity, and wide­spread poverty and des­per­a­tion. Gazans have “noth­ing to lose and no way to leave.” No won­der they run into Is­raeli bul­lets. Given the si­mul­ta­ne­ous car­nage at the border, the happy mood at the cer­e­mony in Jerusalem was bizarre, said Kath­leen Parker in The Wash­ing­ton Post. And while “mov­ing the em­bassy may have been the right thing to do,” Trump did it for self-serv­ing po­lit­i­cal rea­sons—to so­lid­ify his sup­port from right-wing Jews and evan­gel­i­cals. He even in­vited two ex­trem­ist evan­gel­i­cal preach­ers who say Mus­lims, Catholics, Mor­mons, and Jews are all go­ing to hell.

By re­lo­cat­ing the em­bassy, Trump has stripped Amer­ica’s Is­raelPales­tinian pol­icy of “all nu­ance,” said Paul Wald­man in Wash­ing­ton­ He has made it clear “we care only about Is­rael’s in­ter­ests.” What this means is grimly ob­vi­ous: The U.S. is no longer work­ing to­ward “the even­tual cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state,” Ne­tanyahu can do what­ever he likes with­out fear of U.S. ob­jec­tion, and the Pales­tini­ans have no rea­son for hope.

Pales­tini­ans charg­ing the border fence

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