Israel’s premeditated massacre

April 9, 2018

When Israeli forces opened fire on the Great Return March on March 30, they knew they were committing a massacre. When the bullets stopped flying, at least 17 Palestinians were dead, and more than 1,000 were wounded. But as the international outcry over the incident grew, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared "all our soldiers deserve a medal."

One week later, on April 6, Israeli snipers shot and killed Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year-old Palestinian journalist covering the protests--he ws one of 11 Palesinians killed by Israeli forces that same day. Murtaja was wearing a vest and helmet clearly marked with the word "press." Five other journalists were also injured April 6. Human rights groups are condemning Israel for its policy of targeting Palestinian media personnel.

In a statement published on April 4, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return condemn the massacre and call for an end to the U.S. government's policy of arming Israeli apartheid.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963

ON APRIL 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. courageously condemned the Vietnam War, declaring, "For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."

On this, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, we follow his example by condemning Israel's premeditated massacre of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza on March 30, 2018, which left at least 17 dead and 1,400 wounded--some of them shot in the back by snipers while fleeing.

They were among 30,000 participants in the Great Return March, demanding their right, enshrined in UN Resolution 194, to return to homes from which they were expelled during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) that created the Israeli settler-colonial state.

"I will not whitewash colonial violence by describing it with benign terminology," says Palestinian-American scholar Steven Salaita about the massacre. "It is cruel, depraved, gratuitous, racist and genocidal."

Tear gas canisters rain down on Palestinian protesters during Land Day demonstrations
Tear gas canisters rain down on Palestinian protesters during Land Day demonstrations (Yasser Fathi Qudih)

The massacre took place on Land Day, which commemorates Israel's 1976 killing of six Palestinians during mass protests against land theft, and is part of Israel's crippling 12-year siege on Gaza, including the military assault in 2014 that murdered 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.

By weaponizing Israel to the tune of $3.8 billion a year, the U.S. government--with virtually unanimous bipartisan support--shares full responsibility for all these crimes.

Evoking memories of racist violence at Sharpesville, South Africa, in 1960 and Selma, Alabama, in 1965, this latest massacre exposes the innate inhumanity of the entire Zionist project, while only strengthening refugees' resolve.

"Being a Palestinian and standing up for our rights has meant sacrifice since our first displacement in 1948," explains Rana Shubair. "My family and I will not back down."

More than ever, in solidarity with this popular resistance, we call on all people of conscience to support the full boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) platform, which demands an end to Israeli occupation and apartheid, full equality for Palestinians, and--what BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti describes as "absolutely the most significant right in the BDS call"--refugees' right to return to their homes and lands.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

First published at change.org.

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