Behind the headlines: Gisha’s analysis of the situation in Gaza

Israeli politicians and officials depict recent events as a sudden threat on Israel’s borders, initiated by Hamas. By doing so, they obscure the broader context. The deterioration of living conditions is the calculated consequence of a deliberate policy

Thursday, April 12, 2018: Today Gisha published an analysis of the situation in the Gaza Strip – Behind the headlines. Its main points are:

The fatal shooting of protestors near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip over the last few weeks has rightfully elicited harsh reactions from around the globe. Israeli politicians and officials meanwhile depict recent events as a sudden threat on Israel’s borders, initiated by Hamas. By doing so, they willfully obscure the wider context of Israel’s enduring relationship with residents of the Gaza Strip: 50 years of control, culminating in a closure tightened more than a decade ago. The current wave of protest cannot be understood detached from this context or from the 70-plus year regional conflict and its many complexities, nor can it be solved using military force.

Regardless of the political affiliation of the protestors, who organized the protest, or the agenda they wish to promote, international law prohibits the use of lethal force against civilians unless they participate directly in acts of hostility or pose a concrete risk to life, and even then, only as a last resort and only to the extent necessary to alleviate the risk. Participation in a demonstration, even if the protest is not entirely “peaceful” and includes riots or disturbances, does not constitute an act of hostility or direct endangerment of life, in and of itself, that can be responded to with live fire. There is no doubt that the great number of injuries and loss of life near the fence could have been avoided had the rules of engagement been dictated by international law rather than a desire to quash protest.

The protests on the border are in part intended to call the world’s attention to this bleak reality, and compel a solution. Gisha’s position is that a comprehensive, sustainable solution to the situation can only be reached by ending the occupation, but in the meantime, there is no justification for the suffocating permit regime and arbitrary, sweeping restrictions on movement imposed on the Strip. Gaza’s predominantly young population is educated, ambitious, and brimming with potential. The demonization of the two million residents of the Strip as a whole, and their portrayal as terrorists is a maddening act of incitement, a desperate attempt to conceal the failure of Israel’s policy on Gaza, behind which there is no long-term strategy.

To view the analysis in full, click here.