Gaza Protesters in Anaheim via Wikimedia Commons
On Monday, May 14, thousands of Palestinians took the streets to protest the United States’ embassy in Jerusalem, which was originally located in the city of Tel Aviv. This protest was in addition to the series of protests that have been taking place since March of 2018, called the March of Return, challenging 70 years of occupation by Israel. Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed, including many young people, six children, and a baby. Over 2,700 others were injured as a result of the attacks from the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
The IDF has gone on to publicly claim that protestors were sent in as weapons by Hamas. Hamas is a resistance group that has many goals, none of which include endangering Palestinian people who protest peacefully. Hamas has attempted to end the conflict between Palestine and Israel through compromise and requests to allow Palestinians to return home. Hamas has been critiqued in the past for their use of violence as a tactic of resistance, although the IDF has been allowed to get away with many acts of violence against Palestinian people without any formal critique from the U.S. or Western powers.
Circumstances of the protest indicate that this was a senseless murder of Palestinian people. Not a single Israeli soldier was harmed during the protest, yet over 2,700 Palestinian people were injured, many of which were critical injuries. The IDF described the protestors as rioters who were “throwing rocks.” IDF claimed disabled folks and children were a danger to them and reason enough to unleash tear gas and fire into a crowd. It is hard to imagine that heavily armed soldiers perceive Palestinian youth with slingshots as threats and a justified reason to take their lives.
This event has been declared one of the ‘bloodiest day[s]’ in Gaza since 2014 due to the high death rate. Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups have recently critiqued the hyper-militarization of Israeli soldiers and the killings of Palestinian people. The U.S. government, on the other hand, has yet to condemn the act of violence. Some, such as Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, went as far as absolving Israel of the blame entirely and blaming Hamas for the death of the protestors.
The IDF, and Israel overall, is excessively militarized and is authorized to have weapons for which other countries are sanctioned. Israel occupies space in many territories that once belonged to Palestinians. Efforts by Palestinians to reclaim space have been met with unwarranted, violent force by the IDF, and the deaths resulting from this violence should be recognized as genocide.
The U.S. and many of its allies are hesitant to criticize Israel and its acts of violence because Western powers are invested in maintaining Israel as a power in the Middle East. The U.S. is so notably invested that Ivanka Trump was present for the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem. Zionist media outlets have worked hard to tie the Israeli identity to the Jewish identity, despite the fact that Jewish people have existed far before Israel was created. The United States is more interested in protecting the colonial powers of Israel because it stands to benefit from Israel’s presence in Palestine. Many U.S. media outlets have continually tied anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism in an effort to portray any criticism against Israel’s abuse of power as anti-Semitic.
To be clear, to be against Zionism, the occupation of Palestinian land, does not equate to anti-Semitism. Recognizing that the Israeli Defense Force is a violent group created to oppress Palestinian people does not equate to hating Jewish people. Palestinian people are dying at higher rates than any other group of people in Palestine. There is decreased access to water and other resources in territories that Palestinians currently reside in. Palestinian youth are being incarcerated at higher rates.
There are human rights violations taking place everyday against Palestinian people, and there is little being done about it because of the United States’ desire to preserve colonialism in Israel. It is important to recognize that these are acts of genocide because such an admission would make it easier for Palestinians to receive aid and support from other countries. Countries like Japan have recognized the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people, and have increased aid to Palestinian refugees. It is imperative for other countries to follow suit before it’s too late.
To donate to those in need in Gaza and other areas in Palestine right now, please follow this link to help provide aid.