Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 8: The Gaza protesters in the 2018 "March of Return" were civilians


Djibouti, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), 2019 Sessions

This accusation was also voiced in 2019 sessions in statements by Djibouti, the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), Iraq, Nigeria and North Korea.

Iraq, 42nd Session

“We condemn…the excessive use of force against civilians.”

Arab Group, 41st Session

“Mr. President, the civilian protesters who do not constitute any threat to life in Gaza continue to be subjected to lethal power by the occupying Power…”

China, 40th Session

“China opposes the use of force and condemns the violent acts against civilians.”

Our Response

UN Watch

Framing the Gaza border events as civilian “distorts reality,” said military law expert Lt. Col. Geoffrey Korn at the UN Human Rights Council, at a side event hosted by UN Watch in March 2019. “What happened at that border, I think most rational observers would agree, was not an overall civilian protest, but the use of a civilian protest as a tactic in an ongoing armed conflict between Israel and Hamas.”[1]

Indeed, classifying the border confrontations as a civilian protest ignores crucial evidence that the “March of Return” was in fact used as a cover for militant activities that were intended to harm Israeli soldiers and civilians. The voluminous evidence includes:

  • Statements by Hamas leaders inciting attackers to murder Israelis and rallying the crowds to violence. Hamas Gaza leader Yehya Sinwar, for example, said: “We would rather die as martyrs than die out of oppression and humiliation…We are ready to die, and tens of thousands will die with us.” (New York Times, May 10, 2018)[2]
  • Statement by Hamas Co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahhar admitting the protests are not “peaceful resistance.” (Al Jazeera, May 13, 2018)[3]
  • Hamas press release admitting that the marches are being conducted by “the organizations of jihad fighters,” and that they are managed and supervised by “combat organizations.” (May 14, 2018)[4]
  • The establishment of special military-style units at the border, each responsible for a different type of tactic against Israel.[5]
  • Instructions posted on the March of Return Facebook page for the May 14 border confrontations, directing attackers to bring weapons (knife, dagger, or handgun), in order to attempt a mass breach of the border.[6]
  • Numerous examples of violent and militant activities at the border fence, including shooting attacks, planting IEDs at the fence, cutting the fence, and throwing Molotov cocktails into Israel. See, e.g., Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center’s findings about the identities of Palestinians killed in the Gaza border confrontations[7]; Tweet by analyst Joe Truzman with photos of Molotov Cocktails being prepared[8]; Tweet by analyst Joe Truzman with video of machine gun attack on IDF jeep and homes in Sderot[9]; Tweet by Hamas (@PalinfoAr) with video of Gazans cutting the border fence with wire cutters.[10]
  • Statements by attackers of their intent to breach the fence, invade Israeli communities and kill or kidnap Israelis. One attacker posted this on Facebook: “Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, east of Rafah, is only 300 meters from the border. It has turkey pens, a football field and a pool, [although] it houses only 15 families. Pounce on them with knives.”[11]
  • Hamas politburo member Salah Bardawil‘s admission on May 14, 2018 that 50 out of the 62 people killed on that day were Hamas members, and that more than 50% of those killed since the start of the border confrontations were Hamas members.[12]

For more information on the Gaza border confrontation, see UN Watch’s December 2018 submission to the COI on Gaza[13]; Rebuttal to the COI on Gaza[14]; and Response to the Gaza COI February 2019 press conference.[15]

[1] Renowned Law of War expert Geoffrey Corn testifies against biased UN report, UN Watch (March 18, 2019),

[2] David Halbfinger and Iyad Abuheweila, As Gaza tears on precipice, a Hamas leader speaks out, New York Times (May 10, 2018),

[3] Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahar on Gaza Protests: This Is Not Peaceful Resistance, It Is Supported By Our Weapons, MEMRI (May 13, 2018),

[4] Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, Why Is Hamas So Interested in Palestinian Deaths? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (May 16, 2018),

[5] Members of Gaza “Fence Cutters’ Unit” Proclaims: Victory or Martyrdom! – Scenes from Gaza “Return March,” MEMRI (April 27, 2018),

[6] Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Bring a knife, dagger, or handgun,” kidnap Israeli civilians, and murder soldiers and settlers – Instructions on Facebook to Gazans for “March of Return,” Palestinian Media Watch (May 16, 2018),

[7] Findings of the ITIC’s examination of the identity of Palestinians killed in the events of the “Great Return March,” Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (May 28, 2018),

[8] @JTruzmah, Twitter (May 14, 2018, 10:27 AM),

[9] @JTruzmah, Twitter (May 19, 2018, 9:37 AM),

[10] @PalinfoAr, Twitter (May 16, 2018, 12:27 AM),

[11] 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),

[12] Hamas Political bureau Member Salah Al-Bardawil: 50 of the Martyrs Killed in Gaza were from Hamas, 12 Regular People, MEMRI (May 16, 2018),

[13] Submission to United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Established Pursuant to UNHRC Resolution S-28/1, UN Watch (December 9, 2018),

[14] Breaking: UN Watch rejects findings of today’s report by UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza violence, UN Watch (March 5, 2019),

[15] UN Watch response to press conference of UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza, UN Watch (March 2019),

UN Watch