Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Countering
Item 7

THE UNHRC'S STANDING AGENDA ITEM
TARGETING ISRAEL

Claims

Claim 7: The protesters at the Gaza border were peaceful

examples

Libya, 42nd Session

“In 2018, 307 Palestinians were killed, 96 were wounded and that during peaceful demonstrations.”

North Korea, 42nd Session

“Ruthless suppression of peaceful protesters, disproportionate use of force by Israel…”

Somalia, 40th Session

“We condemn the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces against peaceful Palestinian demonstrators at the Gaza fence…”

Our Response

UN Watch

Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahhar admitted to Al-Jazeera on May 13, 2018 that using the term “peaceful resistance” to describe the March of Return border confrontations amounted to “deceiving the public.”[1] While the majority of participants in the so-called demonstrations, which commenced in March 2018, were unarmed civilians, many were armed members of Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and other countries.

Hamas uses sophisticated military strategy and tactics, and is funded, armed and trained by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hamas’ strategy was deliberately to embed violent attackers within crowds of otherwise non-violent demonstrators. The violent actions of the Hamas attackers at the border had nothing in common with peaceful demonstrations, nor even with riots that take place in an urban context. Rather, these were military-organized border confrontations, amounting to an assault on Israel’s international border with Gaza.

The border confrontations were marked by violence, including throwing Molotov cocktails, catapulting flaming kites into Israeli territory in order to set fields on fire and cause harm, stone-throwing, attempts to cut through the border fence and infiltrate Israel, and firing at Israeli soldiers.[2] In less than six months, the arson kites had burned over 7,000 acres of land, causing millions of dollars of damage to Israeli agricultural land and nature reserves, and threatening the welfare of Israeli civilians, including children playing in kindergarten.[3]

On April 27, 2018, for example, the attackers succeeded in breaching the fence for a short time.[4] A number of Palestinians arrested after breaching the border fence with Israel were armed.[5] In the first two weeks of May 2018, attackers incited by Hamas burned down the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the main entry point for humanitarian aid into Gaza, causing extensive damage.[6] Just before the May 14, 2018 protests, Hamas leaders posted to social media maps of the quickest routes into Israeli towns and villages.[7] The maps were widely shared on social media by Gazans intent on invading those communities.[8] Hamas officials incited to the murder of Israelis and rallied the crowds to violence with slogans like: “We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies” (Yehya Sinwar),[9] and “Palestine and Jerusalem belong to us…We will break the walls of the blockade, remove the occupation entity and return to all of Palestine” (Ismail Haniyeh).[10] The weekly protests continued to be violent in 2019, with numerous examples of militant activity along the border fence and attempts to breach the fence. (See UN Watch’s Rebuttal to the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Gaza,[11] and Response to its press conference of February 2019.[12] See also UN Watch’s Rebuttal to the High Commissioner’s September 2019 update on the COI.[13])

[1] Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud al-Zahar on Gaza Protests: This Is Not Peaceful Resistance, It Is Supported By Our Weapons, MEMRI (May 13, 2018), https://www.memri.org/tv/senior-hamas-official-mahmoud-zahhar-on-gaza-protests-this-is-not-peaceful-resistance.

[2] Amb. Alan Baker, Did Israel Use “Disproportionate Force” to Protect the Gaza Fence? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (May 28, 2018), https://jcpa.org/article/did-israel-use-disproportionate-force-to-protect-the-gaza-fence/.

[3] Arson kite lands in West Bank settlement vineyard, causing fire but no damage, Times of Israel (August 6, 2018), https://www.timesofisrael.com/arson-kite-lands-in-west-bank-settlement-vineyard-causing-fire-but-no-damage/#gs.gcoabo.

[4] Noga Tarnopolsky, Palestinian protesters breach Israel-Gaza border fence; 3 killed, hundreds injured in clashes, LA Times (April 27, 2018), https://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-israel-gaza-friday-protests-20180427-story.html.

[5] In third separate incident, 2 armed Palestinians arrested after crossing Gaza border into Israel, Ynet (April 29, 2018), https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5245866,00.html.

[6] Judah Ari Gross, Israel reopens Gaza crossing, but Palestinians turn back some trucks, Times of Israel (May 15, 2018), https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-reopens-gaza-crossing-but-palestinians-turn-back-some-trucks/#gs.gcpck2.

[7] Israel drops leaflets on Gaza warning Palestinians to stay away from border fence ahead of US embassy move protests, Independent (May 14, 2018), https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/srael-gaza-us-embassy-protests-opening-jerusalem-border-fence-leaflets-a8350511.html.

[8] The ‘Great Return March’ Campaign: An Initiative Sponsored By Hamas, Whose Goal Was To Breach The Border Fence, Penetrate Israeli Territory, MEMRI (May 18, 2018), https://www.memri.org/reports/great-return-march-campaign-initiative-sponsored-hamas-whose-goal-was-breach-border-fence.

[9] @Ostrov_A, Twitter (May 15, 2018, 11:09 AM), https://twitter.com/Ostrov_A/status/996301534718844928.

[10] Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas vows Gaza protests to last until Palestinians ‘return to all of Palestine,’ Times of Israel (April 9, 2018), https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-vows-gaza-protests-to-continue-until-they-return-to-all-of-palestine/#gs.gcr3kn.

[11] Breaking: UN Watch rejects findings of today’s report by UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza violence, UN Watch (March 5, 2019), https://unwatch.org/breaking-un-watch-rejects-findings-todays-report-un-commission-inquiry-gaza-violence/.

[12] UN Watch response to press conference of UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza, UN Watch (March 2019), https://unwatch.org/un-watchs-response-press-conference-un-commission-inquiry-gaza/.

[13] UN Watch rebuttal to High Commissioner’s Gaza COI update, UN Watch (September 2019), https://unwatch.org/un-watchs-rebuttal-to-high-commissioners-gaza-coi-update/.

UN Watch

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