By Middle East Affairs
Israelis demonstrated on the streets Tuesday to show their support of Palestinians and their disapproval of the use of the violence against their neighbors.
Signs held by Israelis were filled with slogans like “Stop the Live Fire”. Demonstrators chanted “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies,” as they walked in Tel Aviv, causing traffic jams along the way.
The demonstrators took to the streets after Monday turned to be the deadliest day for Palestinians since the war in 2014. Israeli military forces were responsible for the shooting of 62 Palestinians. Among the killed were six children, and several journalists. Almost 3000 Palestinians were injured either from live bullets, rubber bullets, tear gas bombs or sound bombs. Some are still in hospitals in critical condition.
In one of the most tragic moments of the week, eight-month infant Laila al-Ghandour died Tuesday morning from gas inhalations, it is likely that she inhaled the gas and smoke when she was in a tent, meant as a meeting point for Palestinians. Some used the tents to carry out their daily prayers. Israeli forces, however, sent drones full of gasoline and tear gas onto entire areas where Palestinians were gathered.
All the violence on Monday came after six weeks of repeated attacks and killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces. The death toll is estimated to be 116 since March.
Monday was significant for Palestinians because it marked the 70th anniversary of Nakba which in Arabic means disaster or catastrophe. The day that Israel gained statehood by an international accord is the same day that Palestinians were expelled from their homes and 700,000 of them became refugees, a status that is still valid today, as they do not have rights of sovereignty.
Leading up to the Nakba, Palestinians met every Friday for six weeks in a series of protests called the Great Return March to symbolize their will to return home to their ancestral homes which were taken from their grandparents 70 years ago. The protests were largely peaceful from the side of Palestine but were met with military forces with sniper rifles and live ammunition from Israel’s side.
Left-wing activist organizations organized the demonstrations in Tel Aviv on Tuesday meant to show that most of the Palestinians that were killed were young and unarmed, which differs from Israel’s claims that most protestors are Hamas supporters.
Tamar Selby, 72, a psychotherapist, has been protesting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian since 1968, the year after Israel took control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the Six Day War.
Selby said to Haaretz, “I can’t take the massacre that is happening in my name, I don’t want to be associated with it.”
As she said this two women walked by and said to her, “May your name be erased from the Earth,” reports Haaretz.
To that Selby replied that “We ( Israelis) have trouble seeing ourselves as anything but victims.”
Alon-Lee Green, a 30-year-old fellow demonstrator wore the purple shirt of his organization, Stand Together, written both in Hebrew and Arabic.
Green, speaking to Haaretz said “Instead of killing Palestinian protesters Israel has to see how desperate their need is for jobs, electricity and clean water under the siege,” in referencing Israel’s siege of Palestinian autonomy.
Palestinians must get permission, often denied just to travel in and out of the Gaza strip. Making longer journies even more difficult and international travel almost unimaginable for most Palestinians.
Israel cuts out power for most of the day in Gaza and enforces a strict limit of only 4 hours of daily use of electricity. They have poisoned more than 95% of the water, making it undrinkable due to many poisons and pollutants.
“Seeing the images yesterday on a split screen on Israeli television news was jarring – in Gaza there was death and then there was Ivanka Trump, actually drinking champagne (at the embassy opening). It was surreal and impossible to digest – the juxtaposition of celebration with the 60 people who lost their lives,” Green told Hareetz.
The demonstrators that Hareetz interviewed said that they could not imagine remaining silent while Israel continues their reign of terror. They also dismissed the sentiment that the Israel government tries to instill, that Palestinians themselves were to blame for their youth dying by sending them to Hamas.
A representative of think-tank Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives, Liel Magen, 32, told Hareetz, that “We need to ask how these people got to such a state of desperation. To say it’s just Hamas to blame is to close one’s eyes.”
He is aware that in Gaza jobs, food, medicine, water, and electricity are lacking. Magen confesses that the Gaza strip is on the verge of humanitarian collapse reports Hareetz.
Israel is responsible, at least partially, admits Magen. In 2005 Israel evacuated its settlements from Gaza, explaining that terror activities and rocket attacks from Hamas were unsafe for its people. Since then Israel has enforced an air and sea blockade, it also controls land crossings giving them power and control of Palestinian movement and restricting the supply of goods.
This has left millions of Palestinians without jobs, and in poor health, especially children who routinely suffer multiple diseases from lack of proper nutrition. Mentally, Palestinians are suffering from having to live through multiple wars and routine violent attacks and sieges from Israel.
The Israel-Palestine Timeline, a website that seeks to chronicle all those that have died from attacks from the other side in the last eighteen years, reports that as of April 19, 2018 – 9,600 Palestinians have died, 2,177 of which have been Palestinian children. Injured Palestinians are reported at 101,558.
This excludes the killings from the Great Return marches and Monday’s massacre.
On the other side, 1,251 Israelis have been killed, 134 of them have been Israeli children and 11,962 Israelis have been injured in conflicts between Israel and Palestine.