Killing civilians is not OK, Israel

Drew Taylor

Earlier this weekend, about 30,000 Palestinians were a part of a series of mass protests in the Gaza Strip. The reason? The right of return for Palestinian refugees. The protests took place on the anniversary of Land Day, a highly symbolic day in which six protesters were killed in Israel in 1976.

The protests did not end well, as 15 Palestinians were killed, with hundreds more injured by Israeli forces in response to the demonstrations. While Palestinians mourn those killed, Israeli leaders and supporters have defended the choice made by Israeli forces to respond with violence — claiming that the protesters started the violence by throwing stones and burning tires.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the soldiers saying that “Israel is acting determinedly and decisively to protect its sovereignty and the security of its citizens.”

The United Nations Security Council prepared a statement, proposed by Kuwait, demanding an independent investigation into the events. The statement also expressed concern over the situation as a whole, as well as concern for the right of peaceful protest. This statement, however, was blocked by the United States.

It’s alarming that American leaders have no interest in condemning the actions of the Israeli forces. It should not be controversial to be skeptical of citizens being killed by military forces.

Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken out saying that the Israeli forces “overreacted,” but other American leaders have been silent on the matter. Why?

Had the Russian army killed 15 protesters in Moscow or had Syrian forces shot at demonstrators in Damascus, the whole world would have rushed to denounce Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, as they should.

But instead of questioning Netanyahu and the response of the Israeli forces, American leaders are either ignoring the issue or defending the IDF, as U.S. representative to the U.N. Walter Miller claimed that “bad actors” were using the protests to incite violence.

The Israeli army released the names of those killed, including eight members of Hamas. This fact has been used to justify their actions. While this is not a defense of Hamas, simply killing people accused of terrorist actions is not the democratic way to deal with the issue.

American leaders are failing in their response to the actions by the Israeli army this past weekend. We cannot let human rights violations like this continue without denouncing the actions, otherwise we are just showing the rest of the world we are hypocrites with which violations we care about.

If we remain silent and accept that kind of behavior, it might one day catch up to us. Let’s not forget that here, at Kent State, four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard only a few decades ago. 

Drew Taylor is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]