There is little media coverage of Gaza and the Palestinian West Bank these days. This lack of coverage might lead one to believe that nothing of interest is happening there. However, both areas are under a brutal Israeli occupation, and there are daily harassments and indignities inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli military and illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Gaza is still occupied and suffering from a cruel and illegal Israeli siege, abetted by Egypt and the U.S. This siege and the numerous Israeli attacks make life in Gaza a living hell and unlivable by 2020, according to the U.N.
The Palestinians in Gaza have been waging a mostly nonviolent campaign, the Great March of Return, that began March 30, 2018. This day was the 42nd anniversary of Palestinian Land Day, the day when Israeli security forces murdered six unarmed Israeli Palestinians, wounded about 100 and arrested several hundred more for nonviolently protesting the expropriation of Palestinian land. The purpose of this Great March was to remind the world of the Palestinian Right of Return to their homes, a right recognized by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948. Other purposes of the March were to protest the now 12-year-long illegal Israeli siege of Gaza and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
The media initially paid some attention to the march but has had little coverage since May 15, the date originally selected as the ending date. This date was chosen because it was the anniversary of the Nakba (the Catastrophe), during which about 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled or fled in terror from their homes due to fear of Jewish forces, including terrorist groups. From March 30 to May 15 last year, over 100 demonstrators, including medics and press, were killed and thousands were injured. Shamefully, Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected two petitions brought by human rights groups demanding Israel’s army stop using snipers and live ammunition against unarmed protesters. The Great March has continued, and Israel has now killed more than 180 unarmed protesters.
The U.S. media barely noted the recent U.N. Human Rights Council report stating they have grounds to believe Israel committed international war crimes against demonstrators during “large-scale civilian protests.” In addition, human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israeli B’tselem condemned the Israeli shooting of unarmed protesters. The U.S. played its usual role by blocking a Security Council draft resolution from Kuwait that called for an independent and transparent investigation into the Israeli killing of 17 unarmed Palestinians during the first day of the protests.
This lack of reporting by the media and the unwillingness of governments to stop Israeli crimes demonstrate the importance of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement ( bdsmovement.net). Unfortunately, due to Israeli pressure, 27 states have passed anti-BDS laws. The good news is they likely can be overturned on constitutional grounds. Please contact Congress and your state legislature, and encourage them to oppose any anti-BDS legislation.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.