Killing Israel's Democratic Future

Gaza protestorsIt’s remarkable that there has been little in the general press about the killing of another Palestinian protester, Ahmed Salem Deeb, by a sniper in the Gaza strip 3 days ago. It’s another case of a protester suffering from ‘overkill’ and the creation of a popular martyr. Btselem, the Israeli human rights organization, has now released video footage. There is also another blog post with video about the shooting of women protesters a few days earlier. This comes almost exactly a month after a Palestinian teenager was killed, and there are continuing injuries to Western protesters in Gaza. We mustn’t of course forget the case of Rachel Corrie and other protesters.
According to Palestinian sources, the most recent person killed he was “one of many activists and Gaza residents planting Palestinian flags near the wall in protest of the Israeli military’s use of Palestinian farm-land–extending more than 300 meters–as a buffer zone” (JMCC) or AFP.
Even, as I am sure it will be suggested, the protester was part of a rent-a-crowd, including people from the International Solidarity Movement whom I believe have pretty naive politics about the Israel-Palestine conflict, his death cannot be condoned. But political disagreements aside, the ISM should not be the target of military suppression. It is part of a brutal pattern of behaviour by the Israeli military and the security establishment, which inevitably, leads to a worsening cycle of violence and I am sure, deliberate provocation. The last thing the military or government want is a strong assertive non-violent Palestinian protest movement, because it will undermine justifications for the iron first policy. Thus suggests Bradley Burston in Haaretz.
In addition, on the same day, the Egyptians gassed some tunnels, leading to the deaths of people in them.
This is truly appalling: Gazans and foreign protesters are open targets for soldiers, and the Egyptians choose to gas some tunnels (and I suspect not others under their control).
It is all the more reason to argue that the siege of Gaza, linked to the occupation is a failure. But Israel, and Egypt complicit in the situation, have no alternative but to suppress political resistance, rather than biting the bullet (a bad analogy), and coming to terms with Hamas in Gaza. Like it or not, they appear to be the government, despite some contemptible practices–including their own kangaroo courts for alleged traitors.
We can’t expect much better from Egypt, because it is not a democracy, but Israel increasingly faces stark choices about its claims to be a democracy under challenge through this sort of behaviour on top of the many other ‘problems’ it has as an occupying power over another people.
The increased killing of protesters, and attacks on foreign protesters does nothing to engender international support for Israel. Instead, it further reinforces contempt for Israel. Tzvia Greenfield in Haaretz has now summed up the problem for Israel as: Make peace or disappear.
See also Ann Wright Gaza Death Zone. Ann Wright is a controversial former US soldier and diplomat. I am not comfortable with all what she says, but the article does review the history of violence against civilians.

Leave a Reply