Massacring Palestinians with Impunity

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Israeli forces have shot and killed at least three dozen unarmed Palestinians and wounded many hundreds more in the latest attack on Gaza protests:

Gaza’s Health Ministry says the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire amid mass protests near the Gaza border has reached 37, making it the deadliest day since a 2014 war with Israel.

The ministry says at least 448 Palestinians were shot and wounded Monday, while hundreds more suffered other types of injuries, including from tear gas.

The violence made it the deadliest day in Gaza since the devastating cross-border war between the territory’s Hamas rulers and Israel four years ago, and clouded the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces have been using excessive and illegal force against unarmed protesters for weeks, but this is the worst that it has been so far this year. There is no excuse for killing unarmed protesters, and there is no justification for wounding–and sometimes crippling–unarmed people with live ammunition. Gunning down dozens of people in a single day qualifies as a massacre no matter how much anyone wants to spin it as something else. The escalation of violence has been a one-sided affair as Israeli forces have been killing unarmed Palestinians with impunity for more than a month, and the predictable claims of “self-defense” ring more hollow than ever.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported last week on the severity of the injuries that their clinics have been treating:

Even though there is not a war in Gaza, the injuries sustained by our patients are terribly similar to what we see in conflict zones. We estimate that more than 39 percent of our 554 current trauma patients will require long-term rehabilitation, lasting at least until the end of the year. While the majority of our patients are young men around 20 years old, we have treated 98 children and adolescents under 18.

Ninety-one percent of our trauma patients were shot in the legs, many at close range. Several will be handicapped for life, putting tremendous pressure on the already beleaguered health system, impoverished families, and the whole society.

The injuries are similar to those seen in conflict zones because the protesters are being fired upon by Israeli soldiers using live ammunition.

The MSF report continues:

The severity of the injuries demonstrates that Israeli forces are resorting to disproportionate force to incapacitate the protesters. The result is unnecessary damage and suffering.

The report concluded by warning that “an entirely avoidable – potentially even deadlier – blood bath may be just days away.” The bloodbath that MSF feared is happening today. The death toll is likely to go higher than the 37 fatalities confirmed so far.

If it were almost any other government in the world doing this, our government would be condemning it in the strongest terms. Unfortunately, most of our political leaders will respond to the illegal and unwarranted use of lethal force against unarmed people by a US client with a shrug, and as usual the Israeli government will be shielded from the consequences of its outrageous actions.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.