Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Israeli Army massacre of unarmed Palestinians on 16 May 2011 paves the way for a new kind of passive non violent resistance against Occupation

Something happened on 16 May 2011 in the Middle East that could profoundly change the Arab-Israeli, more specifically the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

Israeli massacre at Lebanon border
May 16, 2011 02:48 AM (Last updated: May 16, 2011 02:52 AM)
By Mohammed Zaatari
The Daily Star

MAROUN AL-RAS: Ten Palestinian protesters were shot dead and 112 others wounded Sunday by Israeli forces along Lebanon’s borders with Israel as thousands of unarmed Palestinians rallied to the frontier to mark the Nakba, the 63rd anniversary of the expulsion from their homeland.

Thousands of Palestinian men, women and children, some wrapped in kaffiyehs, flocked in buses from various Palestinian refugee camps across Lebanon to the borders, in a rally they called “the march to return to Palestine.” The buses carried the names of Palestinian villages whose residents were displaced in 1948.

Lebanese activists also took part in the march, which counted Hezbollah among its organizers.

Rather than gathering in assigned spots in the border village of Maroun al-Ras, some protesters made their way to the barbed wire along the borders after throwing stones at the heavily deployed Internal Security Forces and Lebanese Army units who tried to prevent their advance.

Israeli troops then opened fire on the demonstrators, who pelted the Israeli soldiers with stones and tried to climb the barbed wire and erect Palestinian flags and kaffiyehs on it. “We sacrifice our souls and blood for Palestine,” chanted the protesters.

Demonstrators carried a huge banner reading in Hebrew and in Arabic: “The people want to return to Palestine,” echoing slogans raised by Arab protesters who recently toppled autocratic rulers.

The Lebanese Army said in a statement that 10 protesters were shot dead and 112 wounded.

Lebanon filed a complaint against Israel before the U.N. Security Council through its permanent mission in New York to protest the killing and wounding of civilians in Maroun al-Ras.

Lebanon said that the aggression “constituted an act of hostility and stresses again the violation of the Lebanese sovereignty by Israel and its disregard of the U.N. resolutions,” the state-run National News Agency said.

Also, Lebanon called upon the U.N. Security Council to assume its responsibilities in preserving international peace and security and pressure Israel to refrain from its aggressive and provocative acts against Lebanon.

The army statement added that the wounded demonstrators, some of whom remain in a critical condition, were transferred to nearby hospitals.

“The march aimed at reminding the new generation that our parents and grandparents were displaced from their land which was taken over by the Jews,” one of the demonstrators told The Daily Star. “It is also a message to the West and specifically to the U.S., which calls for freedom and democracy, that we want to return [to our land] in line with [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 194,” he added. Tanks and patrols were seen on the Israeli side of the borders in the area of Maroun al-Ras, while the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon organized patrols along the Blue Line.

In the afternoon, Lebanese Army forces managed to disperse the protesters after opening fire in the air.

Deaths were also reported during similar protests which took place in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and in the Gaza Strip.

The NNA said that among the protesters killed were Imad Abu Shaqra, Mohammad Moussa, Mohammad Abu Shalha, Mohammad Saleh, Saleh Abu Rashid and Mohammad Fandi.

The Israeli assault prompted heavy criticism from top Lebanese officials. Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement that “on this day, we cannot but strongly condemn Israel’s continuous violation of human rights, and the fact that it faces peaceful movements of the Arab citizens in Lebanon, the Golan and Palestine with killing and murder.”

Also, Hariri stressed the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and Lebanon’s commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. “The right of our Palestinian brothers to return to their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital is one of the bases of the joint Arab action, which Lebanon, with all its political and national parties, abides by,” Hariri said, as he urged the international community to work on achieving peace in line with the Arab Peace Initiative launched in Beirut in 2002.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati said in a statement that Israel had deliberately challenged the world, the international community and the U.N. by opening fire on unarmed protesters who demanded the implementation of U.N. resolutions. Mikati said that Israel had delivered through Sunday’s acts a message to the world, saying that it is above accountability and condemnation.

“The excessive Israeli aggression on Lebanon stressed another time that this enemy cannot live and survive on the land of Palestine except through the acts of killing, displacement and threats to its surrounding,” the statement added.

Mikati said that Israel’s crimes should motivate the Palestinians to enhance their reconciliation in the face of the “conspiracy that targets the Palestinian cause.”

President Michel Sleiman slammed the “criminal Israeli acts against peaceful civilians in south Lebanon, Golan [Heights] and Palestine.”

Hezbollah saluted the souls of the “martyrs along with the wounded who fell on the road to Palestine and who sacrificed their dear souls to stress their right of return to their occupied land.” The party slammed the “Israeli barbarism,” and said that “the bloody and horrible crimes which were committed by the forces of occupation today against the Palestinian people calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility.”

Maj. Gen. Alberto Cuevas Asarta, the commander of the peacekeeping force in Lebanon, said that he contacted senior officials of various factions and urged them to exercise restraint in light of the “dangerous incidents” on the border.

Asarta stressed that UNIFIL would keep its forces on the ground to assist the Lebanese Army in line with Security Council Resolution 1701. Read in full here.

The brutality of the massacre of unarmed civilians by the Israeli Army is condemned by the world at large, tragic as it may seemed it paves the way for a new kind of resistance, one that India's Mahatma Gandhi is famous for and one that the Israeli feared the most....passive non violent resistance and the Zionists extremists would in time cannot call Palestinians as terrorists anymore:

Israel Prepares to Confront Historic Shifts
by Pierre Klochendler, May 18, 2011
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JERUSALEM—Back in August 2000, just weeks after the failed Camp David peace summit and weeks before the outbreak of the second Palestinian Intifada uprising, Marwan Barghouti, leader of the Fatah armed forces, laid out his alternative strategy for ending the Israeli occupation.

Haranguing a crowd of frustrated Palestinians, he declared: “We shall march with our people to the Israeli checkpoints and settlement gates and proclaim from there that we’re defending our borders with our bodies.” By “our borders,” Barghouti meant the ceasefire lines that prevailed between the end of the 1948 Israeli-Arab war and the 1967 war.

Barghouti’s “borders” are yet to materialize. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has embarked on a diplomatic campaign that will reach its climax in September with a plausible U.N.-endorsed recognition of statehood. And though Barghouti himself languishes in an Israeli jail, serving a life sentence for his alleged role in the Intifada, his strategy might have been adopted after all.

On Sunday, two Palestinian civilians were killed and scores were wounded as demonstrators from refugee camps in Syria managed to breach the “border” fence and marched into the Druze village of Majd e-Shams on the Israeli-occupied side of the Syrian Golan Heights, a “first” since the 1974 Separation of Forces agreement signed in the wake of the 1973 war.

Near the Lebanese village of Maroun a-Ras near the (internationally recognized) border with Israel, other Palestinians refugees were killed in similar waves of protests. The Israeli military alleged that Lebanese soldiers killed three demonstrators on their side of the fence, whereas the Lebanese army retorted that 10 were gunned down by Israeli troops.

Sixty-three years ago on May 15, following a double-barrelled U.N. endorsement of statehood, the British Mandate gave way to the attempt at creating a Jewish state and an Arab state. The 1948 war broke out between the nascent Israel and its Arab neighbors, who refused the partition of Mandatory Palestine. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled out of fear or were driven out.

The fate of the refugees and their descendants, now several million people, is a core issue of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Those who remained on the land transformed from a majority to a minority in the land.

Israel had prepared for rallies marking the Palestinian Nakba, or “catastrophe,” that followed its independence war. Such rallies are customarily held each year within Israeli-Palestinian towns and villages, in refugee camps across the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem, and throughout the Arab world, but never on the gates of the Syrian and Lebanese fronts. And they never spilled over.

All of a sudden, the contingency plans turned into an unexpected nightmare scenario. Refugees from the Palestinian Diaspora trying, albeit symbolically, to exercise their “Right of Return” to their pre-1948 land (now Israel proper) seemed tangible.

Border breaches are just the beginning, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned. “Israel will possibly have to face far more complex challenges in the future,” he said.

In a hasty statement, Benjamin Netanyahu raised the specter of Israel’s destruction. “This is not a struggle over the 1967 borders,” the prime minister asserted, “but a challenge to the very existence of the state of Israel.” But the “sovereign borders” Netanyahu referred to are the post-1967 lines of occupation.

Across the parts of the West Bank under PA control, thousands took to the streets, waving flags and holding old keys, symbols of their aspiration to return to lost homes. But, in line with the PA strategy of a peaceful demand for international recognition of statehood, the rallies were kept from reaching Israeli-held areas. In East Jerusalem, a teenager was killed by a security guard posted near a settlement building.

“The people’s will is stronger than the power of the oppressive occupiers,” declared Abbas, much in the vein of Barghouti’s prescient pronouncement.

Along another (pre-1967) “border,” Palestinian refugees from the Gaza Strip clashed with Israeli soldiers. One activist was killed by sniper fire while attempting, according to Israeli military sources, to plant an explosive device on the fence.

At other (legitimate and peaceful) border crossings, Jordanian and Egyptian police dispersed refugees who tried to reach the Israel-controlled sides of the West Bank and Gaza.

When he travels to Washington this week for a scheduled meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and a much-anticipated policy speech before Congress, Netanyahu will try to leverage Sunday’s events in order to justify the legitimacy of his ingrained abhorrence—of at last agreeing to define the borders of a two-state solution along the pre-1967 lines.

Most Israeli political pundits concur that Netanyahu has three months, till August, to present an acceptable initiative. In a sign that a U.S. challenge to his current policy is not for now, U.S. special envoy to the Mideast Sen. George Mitchell resigned Friday after over two years of fruitless attempts at launching meaningful peace negotiations.

The departure of the presidential mediator confirms the assumption that while Obama will throw his support behind Arab peoples fighting for freedom and democracy in his own upcoming speech, he won’t yet be presenting a fresh U.S. peace strategy.

Another sign that the moment of truth for the Israeli leader is not for now lies in the White House announcement that Obama will address the U.S. pro-Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). The president couldn’t possibly appear before staunch Netanyahu supporters had he wanted to knock Israel’s occupation and its settlement enterprise.

But if by August, a month before Palestine is recognized, Netanyahu still hasn’t declared his willingness, even if reluctantly, to withdraw to the pre-1967 line, Israel might well be heading for another prescient pronouncement, that of his own right-hand man Barak, of a “diplomatic tsunami.”

If Netanyahu sticks to his policy of stagnation, Sunday’s rallies of Palestinian refugee civilians might be but the prelude to something much, much bigger. Caught off-guard in what looks increasingly like a rearguard battle for the persistence of its occupation of Palestinian lands, Israel may have finally started to grapple with the Barghouti challenge. Read more here.

Additional Read:
Here comes your non-violent resistance

After clashes during Palestinian protests, Israeli army ponders tactics

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