By Sam, SJPJC intern.
On March 30th, at least 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces while protesting for rightful return to their land. 1,400+ have been injured by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shooters, making last Friday the bloodiest day Gaza has seen in years. The Israeli government has rejected requests for an investigation by the UN. The government and the media have made clear attempts to demonize the protesters, claiming that Israeli shooters were simply defending themselves rather than murdering the protesters who have been forced from their homes and treated as second class citizens. But why deny investigation if the shooters truly acted in self defense?
The murders occurred on Land Day, the annual recognition of a 1976 protest in which Israeli forces killed six unarmed Palestinians who were resisting increased settlement of their land. It was the first major collective demonstration against Israel since 1948. Each year, March 30 remains an important political date for Palestinians around the world as many see it as a time to mourn losses and dedicate themselves to the struggle for their land.
American media has, as usual, taken on an aggressively pro-Israel tone regarding the Land Day demonstrations. Sources fail to acknowledge the justified rage of the Palestinian people, painting them instead as instigators who simply left IDF shooters with no choice but to fire. The demands of their protest- that refugees be able to return to ancestral homes in what is now Israel- have already been washed away and forgotten. We cannot allow this hateful and reductive narrative to continue to take root in the US. These were not “clashes” between two equal powers. This was the massacre of the oppressed who spoke out for change and fought for their basic human rights. As long as the Israeli government (with US backing) continues to silence the voices of people fighting for equality, we have an undeniable responsibility to stand with Palestinians and ensure that their voices are heard, both within their land and abroad.
Gazans have set up border encampments as part of the “Great March of Return” and are planning to peacefully occupy the land for six weeks, culminating in a march towards Israel. The protest will peak on the anniversary of Israel’s 1948 independence and the resulting theft of Palestinian land and forced eviction of roughly 700,000 people. In 2018, this date falls only one day after the movement of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an overtly anti-Palestinian decision unjustly made by the current administration in an attempt to strengthen Israeli claims of stolen land. Despite widespread, international criticism, the US has stubbornly persistent in its support of the Israeli regime and the relentless attacks on Palestine.