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Gaza unrest: Israel’s use of brute force must be condemned

The association of the Hamas with the protests could be a reason for this inaction, but, there’s no excuse for Israel’s use of live ammunition on a largely unarmed group of Palestinian protesters

editorials Updated: May 17, 2018 18:23 IST
Hindustan Times
Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, who was killed during a protest against US embassy move to Jerusalem at the Israel-Gaza border, during his funeral in the central Gaza Strip, May 15, 2018(REUTERS)

While the United States and Israel were celebrating the inauguration of the new US embassy at Jerusalem, about 100 kilometres to the south, in Gaza, hundreds of people were attending the funerals of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces while protesting at the Israel-Gaza border. By Tuesday, about 60 Palestinians, including an eight-month-old baby, were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded after Israeli forces used live ammunition on what it called “Hamas terrorists”.

Tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have flared up in the past, but what’s disturbing is how Israel’s brutal actions have received little attention from the international community. The US, Israel’s traditional ally, has backed its actions, while many European nations have expressed “shock”. The association of the Hamas with the protests could be a reason for this inaction, but, there’s no excuse for Israel’s disproportionate violence and use of live ammunition on a largely unarmed group of Palestinian protesters.

One of the triggers for this wave of protests is the US’s ill-advised decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and thereby recognise the ancient city as Israel’s capital. It is a cruel irony that US President Donald Trump’s statement congratulating the embassy move was followed by an assurance that the US “remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement”.

Mr Trump’s decision goes against the United Nations’s stand on the status of Jerusalem, especially against UNSC resolutions 476 and 478. Israel considers the whole of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, which it has been illegally occupying since the 1967 six-day war, as its capital. Palestinians envisage East Jerusalem as the future capital of the State of Palestine, which includes the West Bank and Gaza. Due to the ambiguity over Jerusalem’s status, most countries have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv, Israel’s “administrative capital”.

By moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, Mr Trump has fulfilled his campaign promise. By using brute force and squarely blaming the Palestinians for the death and violence, Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu has domestically reiterated his image of a strong leader. And by expressing token protests, the Arab leaders have ignored the rights of the Palestinians. In the process, chances of Israel-Palestine peace has become bleak.

First Published: May 17, 2018 18:20 IST