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10
Apr
2018

The Events along the Border with Gaza


On March 30 and April 6, 2018, the world was witness to a series of Friday marches by thousands of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip toward the border fence with Israel.

Gaza

Perhaps the organizers of the marches hoped that these events would take place in a quiet and peaceful manner, and they indeed publicized them as a peaceful political demonstration.

However, despite the hopes of some of the organizers, these events were taken hostage by the Hamas terror organization governing the Gaza Strip, which sent its fighters to embed themselves among the demonstrators. They brutally turned the protest into a series of acts of violence, including lobbing incendiary devices against the Israeli soldiers guarding the border, placing explosive devices on the border fence, using firearms against the soldiers, and attempting to cut the fence to cross the border violently.

In addition to this violence, Hamas added ecological and environmental damage by organizing the collection and burning of thousands of tires along the border fence in an attempt to provide a smoke screen for activists seeking to breach the fence. The huge blazes caused a huge black cloud of carbon pollution that harmed all in the vicinity, including the Palestinian demonstrators themselves.

Blinded by the Political Smokescreen

The international community has difficulty in seeing the events as they really occurred.

Despite witnessing the violence organized by Hamas, the leaders of the international community appear to be “turning a blind eye” in the strange belief that what they saw was a peaceful demonstration – a haflah, picnic, celebration – that was forcefully frustrated and disturbed by the Israeli army that used excessive violence to harm peaceful and quiet demonstrators.

It seems that the usual, selective international hypocrisy is striking once again!

As occurs whenever Israel acts to counter acts of violence and terror and to prevent attempts to illegally and violently invade the border, the world witnesses the same international reaction and the same chorus of international leaders calling for an international inquiry.

These calls, from “leaders” such as the UN Secretary-General, the EU Foreign Affairs Head Federica Mogherini, and even the Pope, as well as by European leaders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) ostensibly involved in human rights, have become a routine and automatic phenomenon whenever Israel dares to defend itself.

The hypocrisy is all the more evident when these calls are directed only toward Israel, ignoring the violence being exercised against it, and in total ignorance of the genuinely shocking events taking place around the world in which thousands of people are butchered and which merit serious inquiry and censure.

But in today’s political realities, it is far easier to unite and condemn Israel, thereby moving international attention away from those issues on which the international community cannot come to a consensus because of competing economic interests.

So Israel is easy prey.

As with every instance in which Israel is obliged to defend itself forcefully, the Israeli army, acting according to its rules and orders, takes the necessary investigative and disciplinary measures to ensure that its soldiers operate in accordance with orders regarding the use of live fire. It also draws the appropriate and necessary conclusions.

New Condemnations and Court Cases

Regrettably, the various international political bodies that function on the basis of automatic, political majority voting, including those ostensibly engaged in human rights, will take advantage of this “golden opportunity.” They will adopt a new spate of condemnatory resolutions against Israel, calling for international inquiries and legal proceedings against Israeli leaders and soldiers.

The predictable, routine nature and open hypocrisy of such resolutions will work against any credibility or seriousness – both of the organizations that adopt them, as well as of the content of the resolutions themselves.

Finally, we will probably see the usual, highly publicized, and indignant march of Palestinian representatives to The Hague offices of the International Criminal Court (ICC), with a new set of complaints against Israeli leaders and soldiers, in the mistaken belief that the ICC is the Palestinians’ own “back-yard” tribunal for bashing Israel. But this is highly doubtful and even imaginary since the Palestinians will not be able to fulfill the ICC Statute requirement of gravity and seriousness as to merit the Court’s taking up these complaints.

Despite the obvious and transparent hypocrisy of the international community, Israel’s army routinely investigates every situation of the use of live fire, takes the appropriate action, and draws the necessary conclusions. One would assume that even the hypocrisy of the international community cannot ignore this factor.

Appendix

Gaza “Border” Arrangements according to the 1995 Oslo 2 Agreement

  • Following are the agreed provisions of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (Annex I – Security and Redeployment) regarding what is defined as the “Delimiting Line” (the border) with the Gaza Strip, and the Security Perimeter agreed upon on the Gaza side of the border.
  • Note that it was agreed that in this security perimeter there will be “special security measures aimed at preventing infiltrations across the Delimiting Line or the introduction into the Security Perimeter of any arms, ammunition or related equipment, except for the arms, ammunitions, or equipment of the Palestinian Police.”
  • Anyone claiming that the border is unilaterally imposed by Israel and that the security perimeter is unauthorized should be reminded of these agreed-upon provisions of the Oslo 2 agreement.
  • Clearly, this provision envisages the dangers inherent in attempts to approach the border and introduce arms and ammunition, etc.
A Hamas security officer uses a club to prevent protesters from reaching Erez Crossing

A Hamas security officer uses a club to prevent protesters from reaching Erez Crossing during a march heading towards the border with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip, 2011. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

ARTICLE VI

Security Arrangements in the Gaza Strip

  1. The Delimiting Line
  2. For the purpose of the present Agreement only, and without prejudice to the permanent status negotiations on borders, the line delimiting the northern and eastern edge of the Gaza Strip follows the fence on the ground, as delineated on attached map No. 2 by an unbroken green line (hereinafter “the Delimiting Line”) and shall have no other effect.
  3. The Parties reaffirm that, as long as this Agreement is in force, the security fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel shall remain in place, and that the line demarcated by the fence shall be authoritative only for the purpose of this Agreement.
  4. Security Perimeter
  5. There will be a security perimeter along the Delimiting Line inside the Gaza Strip as delineated on attached map No. 2 by a broken green line (hereinafter “the Security Perimeter”).
  6. In accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, the Palestinian Police will be responsible for security in the Security Perimeter.
  7. The Palestinian Police will enforce special security measures aimed at preventing infiltrations across the Delimiting Line or the introduction into the Security Perimeter of any arms, ammunition or related equipment, except for the arms, ammunitions, or equipment of the Palestinian Police, authorized through the relevant DCO.
  8. Activities of the Palestinian Police inside the Security Perimeter will be coordinated through the relevant DCO. Security activities in Israel in the vicinity of the Delimiting Line that directly affect the other side will be coordinated with the Palestinian Police through the relevant DCO.

About Amb. Alan Baker

Amb. Alan Baker is Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.
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