Deadly Gaza Protest Spurs Debate in Israel Over Army’s Actions, Wall Street Journal
“The Israeli army’s decision to open fire on Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip last week has reignited a public debate about the use of military force ahead of another round of demonstrations Friday that are expected again to test the country’s soldiers….Israel’s government, its coalition parties and many political commentators defended the army’s response, saying it was justified in using gunfire, in addition to tear gas, to prevent a breach of the fence that they said could have threatened Israeli lives. Human-rights activists and opposition politicians, especially on the left, however, criticized what they said was an excessive reaction by the armed forces.”
Why Netanyahu’s flip-flopping endangers Israel, Al-Monitor
Ben Caspit writes, “While we may never know what prompted this collapse, we do know that there is a regular pattern to the prime minister’s behavior. He will zigzag until the last minute and after, and at the moment of truth, he will fall apart. All those who know Netanyahu also know that the last one to frighten him will succeed in convincing him. Netanyahu does not try to fight to correct this behavior, but stubbornly clings to it. He is unwilling to take any political risk and sacrifices all options for problematic issues, no matter how important, on the altar of his personal interests.”
Hold Your Fire, Haaretz
The editorial board writes, “The IDF is expected to learn the lessons from last Friday’s failure – 18 demonstrators killed and hundreds more wounded is definitely a failure – and take a different approach. Most of those standing across from the army on the other side of the fence are neither soldiers nor terrorists. They are civilians who decided to wage an essentially non-violent struggle for their freedom. It’s their right. The IDF must do its duty, but suppressing this protest is not part of it.”
The Israeli government released Wednesday 58 asylum seekers from prison who had been jailed for refusing to be deported to Rwanda. In a submission to the High Court of Justice, the state said these 58, who were held at Saharonim Prison, were offered a choice of deportation to Rwanda only and were jailed when they refused. They were not offered the choice of deportation to Uganda.
Israel’s consul general in Boston accused Jewish protesters of “lawlessness” after eight members of the activist group IfNotNow chained themselves to the doors of the building that contains the Israeli consulate on Tuesday morning. The protesters said that they had taken the action, on the fourth day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, to oppose Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza last week.
In a first-of-its kind event, Palestinian activists in Hebron played host to 100 Israelis and international visitors on Wednesday evening in what was billed as a “Freedom Seder.” The Passover celebration featured texts in English, Hebrew and Arabic that interwove the traditional Jewish tale of liberation from Egypt with messages opposing the occupation.
In thinly veiled criticism of Saudi Arabia, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said those who negotiate with Israel are engaging in an act of “betrayal” and an “unforgettable error.” The Iranian supreme leader also vowed to support Hamas in its fight against the Jewish state in a letter to the Gaza terrorist group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh.
A Palestinian driver was seriously injured near Jericho in the West Bank after police officers chasing him shot at his wheels, causing him to lose control of the vehicle. The police gave chase to the Palestinian as he was driving from the Dead Sea area north on Route 90 on Tuesday, suspecting the car was stolen.
Chemi Shalev writes, “The NIF is at the front lines of this battle. If it is beaten, Israeli democracy loses and Netanyahu wins. If it is ejected from the game, other human rights NGOs will follow. Once they’re neutralized, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that all political dissent will come under fire. Together with American Jews, whatever is left of liberal Israel – including those unhappy with the NIF’s modus operandi – must circle their wagons to face the far greater danger. They should stand up for their sister organization, up to and including a personal boycott of the prime minister. In the crucial final battle for Israeli democracy, far too many of its erstwhile defenders are AWOL. They have been cowed into silence and complicity. One can understand how and why their fear of Netanyahu and his foul campaigns of character assassination has paralyzed their willingness to stand up for the country they claim to love, but history is sure to judge them harshly.”
Lisa Goldman writes, “Smoking thousands of dollars in cigars gifted to him by wealthy foreign businessmen interested in obtaining favorable investment terms in Israel was at worst an understandable flaw in a great leader, it seems. But failing to kick the black, non-Jewish, African ‘infiltrators’ out of the Jewish homeland has proven to be the one thing that Netanyahu’s base will not stand. And without his base, Netanyahu is — if not nothing, then certainly vulnerable.”
Amos Harel observes, “On Wednesday the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran met for a three-way summit. Israeli circles can hardly ignore the possible correlation of these things. It felt like a committee to draw up areas of influence in Syria, with the tacit acceptance of the Trump regime.”