Meretz MK Mossi Raz on recent events on the Gaza border

Below is an article written for JLM from Mossi Raz MK, a Member of the Knesset in Israel representing Meretz. Meretz are a member of Socialist International alongside Havoda (The Israeli Labour Party). JLM members hold a range of views and we welcome hearing from all progressive voices within Israel.

Israel’s response to the mass Palestinian demonstrations dubbed the March of Return, launched on 30 March and scheduled to continue until 15 May, exemplifies the paranoia of a government that paints every Palestinian protestor as a terrorist and every criticism of its policies as anti-Semitism. The IDF’s use of live fire against unarmed civilians came as no surprise and was not the result of a handful of soldiers feeling that their lives were in danger or that the border was about to breached by hordes of
armed combatants. The Netanyahu government had declared in advance that any demonstrator who dared so much as to approach the fence would be shot, and the army deployed sharpshooters to carry out its loose and illegitimate open-fire orders.

While Hamas itself, along with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, share in the responsibility for the dire straits of the millions of Gazans who are living under intolerable conditions, there is no question that Israel’s siege on the Strip, which has been in force for over a decade, along with its refusal to engage in meaningful negotiations to secure a political solution based on two states are the primary source of the despair that has seized the Gaza population and motivated tens of thousands to participate in the nonviolent protests.

Despite the heavy toll in human life already taken by the IDF’s lax rules of engagement, Israeli Defense Minister Liberman has stated that Israel has no intention of changing its open-fire policy and warned that anyone who approaches the fence will be considered a legitimate target.The Palestinians’ right to protest is unassailable, and the use of live fire against unarmed civilians cannot be tolerated.

Following our call, lead by MK Tamar Zandberg, head of Meretz, the Israeli authorities must desist from shooting at protestors who constitute no threat to Israeli civilians or military personnel, and the government must immediately launch an independent inquiry into last Friday’s events in order to avoid further loss of life.