[News] How many more Palestinians must die for the sake of Israel's 'security'?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 7 11:33:16 EDT 2021

many more Palestinians must die for the sake of Israel's 'security'?
Dr Ramzy Barou - September 7, 2021

A major Israeli army campaign is taking
social media by storm. The unstated aim of the "#Untie_Our_Hands"
initiative is the desire to kill, with no accountability, more Palestinian
protesters at the nominal border with the Gaza Strip. The campaign was
motivated by the killing
of an Israeli sniper, Barel Hadaria Shmueli, who was reportedly shot from
the Palestinian side of the fence on 21 August.

My immediate question is this: what more do Israeli soldiers want? They
have already killed
more than 300 unarmed Palestinian protesters and wounded and maimed
thousands more at the Gaza fence during what Palestinians referred to as
the "Great March of Return" protests between 2018 and 2020. And they have
done so with impunity. Nobody is "tying their hands".

This "march" is now being renewed
though it often takes place at night. Frustrated Palestinian youth gather
in their thousands, chanting anti-Israeli occupation slogans and, at times,
throwing rocks at Israeli snipers deployed nearly a mile away.

Months after the latest Israeli onslaught against Gaza — a relatively brief
but still deadly war
between 10 and 21 May — the stifling status quo in the besieged Strip has
not changed: the hermetic Israeli-led siege
<https://www.oxfam.org/en/timeline-humanitarian-impact-gaza-blockade>; the
snipers; the occasional night bombardment; the devastating unemployment
the closures; and the lack of everything, from clean water to cement and
even cancer medication
All are still a daily reality.

*READ: Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian in Ramallah

It should not be surprising, therefore, that Palestinians in Gaza,
especially the youth, are in desperate need of a platform to express their
justifiable rage at this ongoing misery. Hence, the renewed mass protests
at the fence.

Israeli politicians and media intentionally exaggerate the "threat" to
Israel's security posed by the Gaza protesters. They speak
of "incendiary balloons" as if they are 500-pound bombs dropped by fighter
jets. They are terrified at the prospect of Gaza kids "breaching the
border", a reference to the fences that Israel has established arbitrarily
around Gaza without respecting any UN-recognised ceasefire demarcation.

This fear-mongering is back with a vengeance. The deadly Israeli sniper's
killing provides an opportunity for politicians in Israel to present
themselves to the electorate as defenders of the army and the champions of
Israeli "security". A political witch hunt is ongoing against those who are
supposedly "cuffing the hands of our troops".

[image: Israeli snipers shoot at Palestinians and Press during protest -
Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]]

Israeli snipers shoot at Palestinians and Press during protest – Cartoon

This same assertion was made
by Naftali Bennett in 2019, long before he became Israel's prime minister.
"The High Court is cuffing the hands of [Israel Defence Forces] troops," he
claimed, before vowing to "free the IDF from the High Court."

A year earlier, Bennett offered more details on how he intends to end
Palestinian protests at the Gaza fence. Responding to a question
during an *Israeli
Army Radio* interview on what he would do if he were the country's defence
minister, he replied
"I would not allow terrorists to cross the border from Gaza every day… and
if they do, we should shoot to kill. Terrorists from Gaza should not enter
Israel… Just as in Lebanon, Syria or anywhere else we should shoot to kill."

The emphasis on "killing" in response to any form of Palestinian protests
seems to be the common denominator between Israeli officials, senior army
officers and ordinary soldiers. The latter, who are behind the social media
campaign, seem to be enjoying their time at the Gaza fence. According to
their own testimonies, snipers track the number of Palestinians they shoot,
try to break each other's records and cheer on video when they document a
"clean shot" against a protester. This illustrates the level of horrific
violence meted out against those largely young Palestinians, including

Israeli snipers work in pairs. A third person, known as the "locator",
helps them to identify their next target. Eden is an Israeli sniper who,
along with some others, gave
his testimony to the Israeli newspaper *Haaretz*, in March 2020. He is
particularly proud of a grizzly milestone that he and his team "achieved".

"On that day, our pair had the largest number of hits, 42 in all," he said.
"My locator wasn't supposed to shoot, but I gave him a break because we
were getting close to the end of our stint, and he didn't have knees. In
the end, you want to leave with the feeling that you did something, that
you weren't a sniper during exercises only. So, after I had a few hits, I
suggested to him that we switch. He got around 28 knees there, I'd say."

Such testimonies are further validated by occasional video footage of
Israeli snipers cheering after shooting Palestinian children at the fence.
In April 2018, a particular video of cheering soldiers, along with the kind
of dialogue that indicates that Israelis have no regard for Palestinian
lives whatsoever, was leaked to international media. Even *CNN* reported

This violence is not confined to Gaza. The debate on Israel's
"shoot-to-kill" policy in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories
has been raging for years. In 2017, Human Rights Watch linked the increased
number of Palestinians killed at the hands of trigger-happy soldiers to the
violent discourse emanating from the Israeli government itself.

*READ: Israel injured 14 peaceful Palestinian protesters in Gaza

"[HRW] has documented numerous statements since October 2015, by senior
Israeli politicians, including the police minister and defence minister,
calling on police and soldiers to shoot to kill suspected attackers,
irrespective of whether lethal force is actually strictly necessary to
protect life," said the organisation

The above issue was highlighted in the execution
of the already incapacitated Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif in the occupied city of
Al-Khalil — Hebron — in March 2016, and in the killing
<https://www.thenation.com/article/world/erekat-execution-israel/> of Ahmad
Erekat at a military checkpoint in the West Bank in July last year. Not
only did Erekat pose no immediate threat to the lives of the occupation
soldiers, but also, according to a statement
by 83 Palestinian and international NGOs, he "was then left to bleed to
death for an hour and a half, while the Israeli occupying forces denied him
access to medical care."

Given the disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties which, at
times, fill the mortuaries in Gaza, it is impossible to understand what the
soldiers, their generals and politicians actually want when they say "untie
our hands". Far more bewildering is the international community's apathy
while Israelis debate the number of Palestinians to be killed. How many
more must die for the sake of Israel's "security"?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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